Detained Student Union Member Released on Bail

By Zarni Mann 16 August 2017

MANDALAY — A court in Taungoo Township, Bago Region, released a detained student union member on bail on Tuesday.

Ko Aung Htet, a former member of the Student Union of Taungoo, was detained at Taungoo Prison in early August and faces trial under Article 505(b) of Burma’s Penal Code.

“My lawyers asked the court for bail, as I need proper medical treatment. They stated that my life would be at risk if I had to wait for my trial inside a prison,” said Ko Aung Htet. “The court released me on bail. Everyone was surprised. I have to thank the court for considering my health.

While in prison, Ko Aung Htet was attacked by an inmate a few days into his detention and suffered an injury to his head.

Ko Aung Htet believes that he was attacked because the other inmate wanted to be transferred to another facility. He will seek treatment at Yangon General Hospital now that he has been released on bail.

The inmate who attacked Ko Aung Htet was charged under prison law and is currently detained in an isolation cell.

Ko Aung Htet, along with another former Student Union member Ko Victor, was sued by a local lieutenant colonel of the Myanmar Army’s Southern Command for traditional Thangyat songs, which they composed and sang during Thingyan Water festival in Taungoo in April. The songs advocated for the amendment of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution.

The two men are facing a lawsuit for incitement under Article 505(b), which is punishable by a maximum of two years imprisonment, a fine, or both. The article generally does not allow the accused persons to be released on bail.

“It is because we used a graphic picture of the Constitution in flames on our parade car and our shirts,” said Ko Aung Htet.

“Accusing us under 505(b) shows that the army is still afraid of the abolishment or the amendment of the Constitution. We will take any risk to push for its amendment,” he added.

The next court hearing for Ko Aung Htet is set for August 29. Ko Victor is still on an arrest warrant.