Arrest Warrant Issued for Former Myanmar Military Officer

By Htun Htun 8 August 2019

YANGON—An arrest warrant has been issued for U Hla Swe, former lieutenant-colonel with the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw), for sedition under Article 124(a) of the Penal Code, Yangon Western District Court press officer U Min Thant confirmed to The Irrawaddy.

Kyauktada Township deputy administrator U Myo Myint filed a complaint against U Hla Swe on Wednesday, Aug. 7, with the township court for allegedly condemning state leaders while speaking at a rally against the US’ imposition of sanctions on Myanmar military leaders in front of Yangon City Hall on Aug. 3.

“He filed a complaint, saying that U Hla Swe indirectly blamed and condemned the state leaders when denouncing the US’ actions,” U Min Thant said.

“Sanctions were imposed against Tatmadaw [leaders]. Doesn’t the country have a president? Doesn’t the country have someone who is higher than the president?” U Hla Swe said at the rally, apparently calling out President U Win Myint and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for not taking actions against the US sanctions.

He also accused them of providing inside information to the US that contributed to the imposition of the sanctions. The court accepted the case and issued an arrest warrant for him.

U Hla Swe represented the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party in the country’s Upper House under the U Thein Sein administration.

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach him for comment.

A Muslim spiritual leader has also filed a lawsuit with Kyauktada Township against U Hla Swe for using anti-Muslim hate speech during the rally.

The Kyauktada Township court will decide on Aug. 21 whether or not to accept the lawsuit, filed under Article 295(a) of the Penal Code, which criminalizes deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the feelings of any group by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

Article 123(a) violations are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Article 295(a) violations are punishable by two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine.

According to the Penal Code, bail is not granted for either charge.

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