Bridegroom Arrested for Throwing Wedding Party Amid Ban on Public Gatherings in Myanmar

By Htun Htun 30 March 2020

YANGON—A bridegroom in Sagaing Region has ended up in a police cell after he held his wedding reception in defiance of the regional government’s ban on public gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bridegroom, Htein Lin Shein, organized his wedding reception at his village Khun Mun Newn in Sagaing’s Tamu Township on Saturday. Myanmar had already confirmed 10 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday evening, including one in Chin State, which borders with Sagaing Region.

Local authorities made both verbal and written requests to the bridegroom to postpone the reception, but after he proceeded with the wedding anyway, they sought the approval of Social Affairs Minister Dr. Zaw Win to file a lawsuit against the bridegroom. Dr. Zaw Win told The Irrawaddy that he gave approval for the suit.

Deputy Administrator of the Tamu Township General Administration Department U Kyaw Kyaw Lin filed the lawsuit with the township police station against Htein Lin Shein under the 2013 Natural Disaster Management Law.

The bridegroom has US citizenship and arrived back in Tamu on March 20, according to Sagaing Region lawmaker U Myint Naing Oo.

“The health department and authorities have banned public gatherings. But he violated this and a lawsuit was therefore filed against him. I heard he is being detained in a police cell,” U Myint Naing Oo told The Irrawaddy on Sunday.

The bridegroom faces a lawsuit under Section 30 (a) of the Natural Disaster Management Law for failing to comply with “the directives of the relevant department, organization or person assigned by the law to perform any of the natural disaster management” [sic]. The statute carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a fine or both.

Local authorities in Tamu also imposed a bylaw on Thursday banning travel into and out of the town between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m..

A total of 10 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Myanmar in Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyitaw and Chin State.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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