Land Rights Activists Sued for Protesting Without Permission

By Land Rights, Zarni Mann 8 May 2013

Two leading land rights activists have been charged with organizing unsanctioned protests to demand back their expropriated lands in Thingangyun Township, Rangoon Division.

About 200 hectares of farmland was confiscated by the Burmese army in 1991, leaving more than 1,000 families displaced. The pair, Kyaw Lin and Sein Than, were arrested on Tuesday under a recently passed law that prohibits protests without official permission. They had led a series of protests in the area since January.

“My father refused to take bail, so the authorities took him to Insein prison and detained him there,” said May Nwae Than, the daughter of Sein Than. Kyaw Lin took bail because he is unwell.

According to the protesters, the confiscated lands are currently rented out to farmers and livestock breeders. Family members said they were also sued for protests in January and March, when the authorities accused them of not asking permission.

“My father said to protest is our right and he does not believe in the anti-protest law,” May Nwae Than said. “They will be sentenced to one year in prison or a 30,000 kyat [US $34] or both. But my father let them bring whatever charges they want against him and will not hire a lawyer to defend himself,” she added.

During Burma’s water festival in April, six Buddhist monks who had taken part in the protests were detained by the military and questioned for three days.