Myanmar Military Sues Charity for Supporting Civil Servants on Strike

By The Irrawaddy 8 March 2021

In their attempt to stop the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), which has shown a growing defiance of the military regime, the military has sued the leaders of the Yangon-based Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS), for allegedly supporting the movement.

The well-known social welfare organization has been assisting wounded anti-coup protesters and providing funerals for those killed in the security forces’ crackdowns. Since the Feb. 1 coup, more than 50 people have died from police and soldiers shooting at peaceful protesters across the country.

U Kyaw Thu, the chairman of the FFSS, was sued for incitement under Article 505 (a) of the Penal Code on March 4, hours after his FFSS office in Yangon’s North Dagon Township was raided by security forces.

At 12 a.m. Thursday, during a raid on the office of the FFSS, volunteers and staff present at the office were beaten and the organization’s computers and electronic devices were confiscated.

The office of the Free Funeral Service Society (FFSS) in North Dagon Township, Yangon, after it was raided at 12 a.m. on Thursday. / Ye Kyaw Thu

Daw Myint Myint Khin Pe, the finance officer of the FFSS and the wife of U Kyaw Thu, was sued under the same charge at the Mayangone Township police station on Feb. 25. The charge carries up to three years’ imprisonment, according to the regime’s amendment to the provision made last month.

They are now in hiding. The military is hunting them and accusing them of misusing donations for free funeral services.

The regime’s mouthpiece Myanmar News agency said that during the raid, they seized the documents, as they did not find the finance officer. It said the FFSS accepted donations of more than 613 million kyats and US$20,670 from nearly 500 individuals and companies from Feb. 10 to March 3, to support civil servants taking part in the CDM.

Of those, the FFSS supported 2,008 people who are in the CDM with 100,000 to 200,000 kyats each and provided cash assistance to container truck drivers and railway workers to join the CDM, the paper said.

Initiated by the medical professional on Feb. 3, the CDM movement is joined by the education, energy, construction, and media workers under the Ministry of Information and hundreds of police in support of the democratically elected government. They support the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), which was formed by lawmakers elected in last year’s vote.

The military also intensified its threat against the civil servants who are taking part in the CDM, while urging them to come work for them. Meanwhile the Myanmar security forces stepped up crackdowns and nighttime raids on the weekend.

Following the military’s killings of protesters, the FFSS recently announced it wouldn’t provide family members of police or military personnel with funerals and health care.

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