Monks Get Jail, Hard Labor for Anti-govt Protest

By Zarni Mann 27 December 2017

MANDALAY — A court in Chanmyathazi Township, Mandalay Region, on Wednesday sentenced six nationalist monks to a year and a half in prison with hard labor for taking part in an anti-government protest.

The Buddhist monks were all arrested during a police raid on their protest camp in early August and later charged with incitement under Article 505 (b) of the Penal Code. They had been calling on the government to step down for failing to protect national interests.

“One year and six months in prison is too harsh. We will submit an appeal to the higher courts,” said U Aung Ye Soe, the monks’ lawyer.

U Kyaw Myo Shwe, a layman also facing an incitement charge for taking part in the same protest, is still on trial and has requested bail for health reasons. He was arrested two days after the monks when he showed up at court for his lawsuit against a Myanmar Now reporter.

U Kyaw Myo Shwe’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 3.

There are still arrest warrants out for two monks and four laymen related to the protest.

“We are not afraid of the harsh sentence. Down with the NLD government!” the monks yelled before being sent back to Obo Prison — where they will serve their jail terms — after Wednesday’s sentencing.

More than 50 monks and dozens of other supporters greeted the defendants at the court with flowers and food and panned the government for arresting and suing them.