Courts Drop Charges Against Student Activists

By The Irrawaddy 8 April 2016

RANGOON— Students, human rights activists and their supporters, who had been on trial for their involvement in national education reform protests, had their charges dropped on Friday.

The dismissal of these cases came just one day after Aung San Suu Kyi said she would work for the immediate release of political prisoners and student activists.

Most of the activists had been on trial for a year, after being handed several charges, including violating the Peaceful Assembly Law. Some faced charges from various townships where the education reform protests occurred. These activists will only be released once all the courts they face charges in drop them.

There was no release of political prisoners currently serving sentences on Friday, only those who were still on trial. But Suu Kyi’s State Counselor Office announced that they were working for their swift release.

“Today’s dismissal was for those who face court hearings today. For others [without hearings today], their dismissal will be after the new year’s holiday, when the courts resume their work,” the statement said. The holiday ends on April 20, and the courts will resume then.

On Friday, Tharawaddy court in Pegu Division dismissed the cases of 69 student activists and their supporters, who had been on trial since the police crackdown on student protestors last year. But three student leaders, Phyo Phyo Aung, Min Thway Thit and Nanda Sitt Aung, have not been released despite Tharawaddy court’s dismissal of their charges. They await dismissals from other courts in Rangoon, where they face charges for the same protest.

“We [the three student leaders] have ongoing cases in a different township in Rangoon,” Nanda Sitt Aung told The Irrawaddy after receiving the dismissal of charges from Tharawaddy court. “Prison called us back.”

Nanda Sitt Aung and others were sent back to prison despite the dismissal of their charges.

Student activist Tin Tin Khaing, who was charged in Rangoon’s Thanlyin Township for organizing education reform protests, said that some township courts in Rangoon had dismissed cases against student protestors including Kyaw Ko Ko and James (Phyo Phyo Aung’s husband), who were detained at Insein prison. But the two have been sent back to Insein, as their cases in Kamayut Township court had yet to be resolved.

Human rights activists Nay Myo Zin, Naw Ohn Hla and Mee Mee have also had charges dropped from some Rangoon courts but await dismissals from others.