The Irrawaddy

Interfaith Activists Sentenced To Two More Years In Prison

Interfaith activists Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt are pictured in a court compound in Mandalay on Friday after being sentenced to two additional years in prison, with labor, for associating with “unlawful organizations.” (Photos: Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

MANDALAY – Amid news of charges being cleared against political detainees, in a court in Mandalay’s Chanayethazan Township, two Muslim interfaith activists were sentenced to two more years in prison—with labor—on Friday for allegedly associating with unlawful organizations.

Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt were arrested for photos shared on social media which depicted a visit to across the Indo-Burma border to Mizoram State in 2014 and a charity trip to a war torn area of Kachin State.

In a picture, Zaw Zaw Latt posed with a M16 rifle as he met with some members of the Kachin Independance Army (KIA) during his visit to displaced people’s camps in the region in 2013.

“Although some courts that have dropped the charges against student activists, we believe there are some processes still working between the government and the court. We believe in Aunty Suu’s government that we will be finally free on New Year,” said Zaw Zaw Latt after the court appearance, referring to State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s announcement that the National League for Democracy (NLD) government would work to release political prisoners during the upcoming period of the Thingyan water festival.

After speaking to the press, Zaw Zaw Latt was sent back to prison.

The 28-year-old from Mandalay has been detained by local police since July 2015.

Zaw Zaw Latt, Pwint Phyu Latt and another colleague, Zaw Win Bo had already been sentenced to two years imprisonment under Burma’s immigration act in February.

Both Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt once worked with the NLD. Zaw Zaw Latt was an information officer for a youth department within the organization.

“We are not going to submit an appeal. We believe the unlawful association acts is no longer useful as the country is moving forward with the peace process and the government will soon abolish this act,” said Pwint Phyu Latt.