RANGOON — Police raided a land rights protest camp near Sule Pagoda in downtown Rangoon in the early hours of Thursday morning and charged 14 protestors under Burma’s controversial Peaceful Assembly Law and a municipal ordinance.
They have been released on bail and will stand trial on March 11, on charges related to their protest of a land seizure by the military in the 1990s.
According to the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), the city’s municipal body, the protestors were ordered on Wednesday to disperse because maintenance of the drainage system near their camp site was scheduled, but the protestors refused to leave.
Around 3:30 am on Thursday, the protestors were forcibly removed from the camp and charged under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act and Article 68 of the Yangon City Development Act, which relates to following authorities’ orders in relation to city development.
Violation of both laws is punishable by up to one year in prison, fines or both.
The protest camp was established last year, and Thursday’s raid ended a more than 300-day sit-in, in which participants were demanding that their land—confiscated by the former military regime in Michaungkan village of Rangoon’s Thingangyun Township—be returned, or compensation paid out.
A court last week sentenced 14 other Michaungkan protestors to six months in prison on charges of unlawful assembly and wrongful restraint, after they moved their protest camp from Maha Bandoola Park, where the protestors arrested Thursday were stationed, to the entrance of City Hall.