Myanmar Junta Scraps Charges Against Pro-Military, Ultranationalist Party Bosses

By The Irrawaddy 20 May 2021

Myanmar’s State Administrative Council (SAC), the military regime’s governing body, has released two pro-military ultranationalists who were arrested under the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) administration for sedition in late January, just before the coup.

Michael Kyaw Myint, the general secretary of the ultranationalist Yeomanry Development Party (YDP), and Daw Moe Moe Khaing, a central executive committee member of the YDP, said on Facebook that charges against them were withdrawn at the instruction of the SAC on Tuesday.

“I am truly grateful to the SAC government. I won’t forget that I owe gratitude. In this new year, new era and under the new government, let’s all engage in unity based on nationalism in politics in which there will never be the NLD,” Michael Kyaw Myint posted on Facebook.

Before his arrest in January, Michael Kyaw Myint was preparing to erect an obelisk in support of the Tatmadaw or Myanmar’s military while claiming the Nov. 8 general election, which brought a landslide victory for the NLD, was marred by fraud. He was charged for exciting disaffection with the government.

In October last year, he was charged with defamation under Article 505(b) of the Penal Code while campaigning in Sagaing’s Khin-U Township, for slamming State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

He was also charged in Yangon under Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law for staging an unauthorized protest. The ultranationalist has also served a one-year sentence for leading an anti-Muslim mob that harassed residents of Yangon’s South Dagon Township in May 2019.

Daw Moe Moe Khaing was also charged under Article 20 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law for staging a demonstration in Yangon in support of Myanmar’s military while calling for an investigation into alleged fraud in the November election. She was also charged under Article 33 of the Electronic Transactions Law for incitement on social media concerning the obelisk.

Daw Moe Moe Khaing said the Electronic Transaction Law charge has not been dropped.

Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing met 34 political parties in August ahead of the November election. Present at the meeting were the military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party, the People’s Pioneer Party led by Daw Thet Thet Khaing, a former NLD lawmaker who is now social welfare minister in the military regime, and the National Democratic Force led by U Khin Maung Swe who is now on the SAC, and nationalist parties, including the National Unity Party and YDP.

At the meeting, Michael Kyaw Myint asked the military chief to intervene if the election was unfair. The military has justified its February coup by alleging massive voter fraud. However, the Asian Network for Free Elections said the outcome of the vote was “by and large, representative of the will of the people of Myanmar”.

At a press conference five days before the coup, military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun denied allegations that the military sponsored the obelisk by the YDP and said supporting the Tatmadaw is not a crime.

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