Court Date Postponed for Defendants in Anti-Government Protest Case

By Zarni Mann 9 August 2017

MANDALAY — A court in Chanmyathazi Township postponed a hearing for detained nationalists on Wednesday after police requested more time to apprehend the remaining suspects on arrest warrants.

“Police presented the detainees and requested to extend the warrant for those at large and reappoint the hearing date, so it was postponed until August 23,” said U Zin Lin Thant, a spokesperson of the Chanmyathazi Township Court.

Seven detained nationalists—six Buddhist monks and one layperson—were arrested after a crackdown on an anti-government protest camp in Mandalay. The monks were arrested during a raid on the camp. U Kyaw Myo Shwe, the plaintiff in lawsuit against a journalist with the publication Myanmar Now, was arrested when he appeared at trial for the suit in Maha Aung Myay Township. The seven defendants appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday. There is still an arrest warrant out for two monks from Mandalay’s Patheingyi Township and four other laymen.

The Mandalay District Buddhist Monks authority filed the lawsuit against the eight protesting monks for incitement under Article 505(b) of Burma’s Penal Code. The charge does not allow for bail to be set and the detainees face up to two years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.

For the five laymen, including U Kyaw Myo Shwe, the administration officer of Chanmyathazi Township opened a lawsuit under the same charge.

The four detained Buddhist monks have been defrocked since their detention and they appeared at court on Wednesday in plainclothes.

“We will keep fighting to protect our nationality, race and religion, and the truth, until we die. You all, who are outside of the prison, also carry on with the mission,” shouted the detained Buddhist monks before they entered the courtroom.

“If the government wants to be democratic, it also needs to listen the voice of the minority. The crackdown is not democratic, it is like a dictatorship,” said U Agga Daza, one of the detained Buddhist Monks.

More than 30 Buddhist monks and dozens of laymen and supporters greeted the defendants at the court with flowers and food.

“The detainees requested an immediate sentencing but I told them that I had to follow court procedure according to the law. They apparently do not wish to be in detention,” said Daw Myat Myat Lwin, the judge in the case.

After receiving the next court date, the detainees were sent back to Obo prison.