Myanmar Junta Sentences Veteran Activist on his Birthday

By The Irrawaddy 10 March 2022

A Myanmar junta court sentenced prominent democracy activist Ko Mya Aye to two years’ imprisonment under hate speech charges on Thursday.

The sentence was handed down to the activist, who has been under detention for more than one year since last year’s coup, on his 56th birthday in Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison.

A court source told The Irrawaddy that the democracy activist, who was twice jailed by former military juntas for his political activism after the 1988 uprising, mocked Thursday’s sentence as an unusual birthday gift.

Ko Mya Aye, the former 88 Generation student leader and now a Federal Democratic Force leader, was among the first people whose homes were surrounded and detained at gunpoint on Feb. 1, 2021, during the coup.

The junta filed the case against the Muslim activist under Article 505(c) of the Penal Code based on a 2014 email about his work with ethnic armed organizations, Burman ethno-nationalism and the importance of working together for federal democracy. The email was found on his seized phone.

Article 505(c) prohibits statements which could incite anyone to commit an offense and carries up to two years’ imprisonment.

U Mya Aye allegedly told the court that he was arrested without any reason and condemned the unfair trials.

“As family members, we prepared for any news but today I felt anger and sadness,” his daughter Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, a human rights activist based in London, posted on Facebook on Thursday.

She said she wished her father could have a meal cooked by her mother with his family on his birthday, adding that he particularly likes her cooking.

He is not receiving proper medical treatment for the cellulitis in his leg, she added.

“Happy birthday, Daddy. Wishing you a speedy return home,” Wai Hnin Pwint Thon wrote.

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