Detained Protest Leader Wai Moe Naing Defends Himself Against Myanmar Junta Charges

By The Irrawaddy 29 July 2022

Detained anti-regime protest leader Ko Wai Moe Naing has mounted his own legal defense against Myanmar junta charges after both of his lawyers were unable to attend his trial.

One lawyer was detained and the other has been in hiding for over a month after the junta issued a warrant, according to a family member.

The 27-year-old was beaten and arrested in April last year for leading anti-regime protests in Monywa, Sagaing Region, following the Feb. 1, 2021 coup. He was beaten and dragged away by junta forces after his motorcycle was rammed during an anti-regime rally. He faces 10 charges, including alleged murder, wrongful confinement, abduction with intent to murder, sedition, unlawful assembly and armed robbery charges.

On Wednesday, a junta court inside Monywa Prison, where the protest leader has been held for more than a year, heard the cases of sedition.

His mother Daw Moe Sandar Kyu, who had not been allowed to meet him since his arrest, was a witness and got a chance to see her son.

Daw Moe Sandar Kyu said her son told her not to worry and that he was in good health.

“I’m worried for him as no one is safe in prison,” she said.

The six sedition charges are for leading rallies, encouraging public anti-regime cooperation, condemning civil servants working for the regime and for forming a public administration after the coup.

Ko Wai Moe Naing previously decided that he would not cooperate with the court fully as he did not recognize the junta’s legitimacy.

However, he changed his mind as he wanted to record that he did nothing wrong, knowing it would not affect the court’s decision.

His mother shared his determination to join the revolution and bear the responsibility on his shoulders.

Fears have grown for detainees after the junta executed four pro-democracy activists under terrorism charges, the first executions of political prisoners in nearly four decades.

Since the coup, the junta has arrested more than 14,900 people, including elected leaders, lawmakers, activists, students, peaceful protesters and striking civil servants. Around 11,815 remain behind bars.