Myanmar Celebrities who Protested Coup Appear in Court

By The Irrawaddy 28 May 2021

A celebrity couple and an actress charged with incitement after participating in anti-regime protests appeared at a special court inside Insein Prison in Yangon on Thursday.

Couple Eaindra Kyaw Zin and Pyay Ti Oo, reputedly the highest-paid actors in Myanmar, were arrested in early April and charged under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code. They are being held at Insein Prison along with actress May Toe Khaing, who was arrested in the second week of April and charged under the same law.

Soon after the junta’s coup in February, the military regime amended the Penal Code to protect the coup leaders.

Under the revised provision, any attempt to “hinder, disturb, damage the motivation, discipline, health and conduct” of military personnel and government employees and cause their hatred, disobedience or disloyalty toward the military and the government is punishable by up to three years in prison.

The junta has issued arrest warrants for hundreds of artists, including actors, directors and singers, who have publicly supported the anti-coup movement.

Actor-director Lu Min was arrested in February, making him one of the first artists to be arrested for supporting the anti-coup movement. Most recently, singer Athen Cho Swe was detained at her house in Yangon after she emerged from hiding to visit her daughter.

Zarganar, Myanmar’s most famous comedian, was arrested in April. He was previously arrested in 2008 by the former junta, before being freed in 2011. Singer Po Po was also arrested at her home in April.

Another big name to have been detained is Paing Takhon, a 24-year-old internationally renowned model and actor who has spoken out against the coup. He was also arrested in April and his case was brought to court on May 4, with the court saying that their ruling will be delivered within 180 days.

“We have had a meeting on case management with the prosecutor and the judge. We view the case as simple and a decision was reached that the case will be heard within 180 days from May,” said lawyer U Khin Maung Myint, who is acting for Paing Takhon.

The case will be heard at Yangon’s North Dagon Township court and the hearing is scheduled to begin on June 9, starting with the appearance of the plaintiff, police captain Myo Myint Aung, said the lawyer.

Famous actor Ye Tike was also arrested in April and charged with incitement under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code, as well as with drug possession. His cases will be heard separately at courts in Yangon’s Latha and Mayangone townships on June 1 and June 3.

The actors are being held in separate cells and are in good health, said their lawyers.

“Some people are posting rumors about them on Facebook. We have been able to meet them at the court every week or so. Their condition is the opposite of what is being said on social media. They are all physically well and mentally good,” said U Khin Maung Myint.

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