Myanmar Junta Jails Celebrity for Anti-Coup Protests

By The Irrawaddy 28 December 2021

A well-known Myanmar actor and model who is also famous in neighboring Thailand was jailed for three years with hard labor on Monday for supporting and participating in anti-regime protests, his lawyer said.

Paing Takhon, 25, who has appeared in TV shows and commercials, took part in the mass protests in Yangon that following the February 1 coup. He was arrested in April after appearing on the junta’s list of celebrities wanted for anti-regime activities.

The verdict in his case was not supposed to be delivered on Monday, as the court was due to hear from a prosecution witness. But the witness failed to appear in court citing health grounds.

Instead of rescheduling the hearing, the judge skipped steps in standard court procedure and delivered the verdict after asking Paing Takhon if he had participated in anti-regime protests and the model answered yes.

“According to court procedures, it is not yet time to deliver the verdict. The court hadn’t finished hearing the prosecution case. And judges can’t force plaintiffs to confess. I’d say it is against the law,” said Paing Takhon’s lawyer U Khin Maung Myint.

Paing Takhon was arrested at his home in Yangon’s North Dagon Township on April 8 and charged with incitement. His case was brought to court on May 8, with the trial originally scheduled to be completed within three months.

His family members have yet to comment on the verdict. “He is in good health. He doesn’t seem to be upset by the ruling. All the detained celebrities expected to be jailed. So he doesn’t feel so sad,” said lawyer U Khin Maung Myint.

Paing Takhon is just one of many Myanmar celebrities who have been arrested or who are wanted for anti-regime activities. Film director Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, comedian Zarganar and blogger Win Min Than have also been charged with incitement and are being held in Yangon’s Insein Prison, where a number of actors and singers are also detained.

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