Myanmar’s Military Regime Hands Down Prison Sentences to Striking Civil Servants

By The Irrawaddy 16 March 2021

Myanmar’s military regime has sentenced ten civil servants to prison terms for joining the civil disobedience movement (CDM). The ten include two police officers and eight staff from the Cooperative Department. They are the first civil servants to be sent to jail for their participation in the CDM.

Deputy Police Sergeant Ko Tara Linn and Policeman Ko Thurein Linn, from Ayeyarwady Region’s Kyangin town were given one year sentences under the Myanmar Police Force Maintenance of Discipline Law. The two brothers were arrested on Feb. 3 for posting on Facebook that they opposed the military regime, but their sentences were only made public on Monday.

Ko THurein Linn livestreamed on Facebook before his arrest saying, “Down with the dictatorship” in a video.

Local news outlet the Ayeyarwaddy Times quoted the father of the two men as saying, “I am proud of my two sons as they were imprisoned for opposing the military dictatorship.”

Deputy Police Sergeant Ko Tara Linn and Policeman Ko Thurein Linn, from Ayeyarwady Region’s Kyangin town were given one year sentences. (Photo: CJ)

Seven women and a man from Naypyitaw’s Lewe Township Cooperative Department who took part in the CDM were also sentenced last week to three months imprisonment each under the Penal Code’s Article 188(b) for “defying orders”.

A lawyer from Naypyitaw said the court sentenced the defendants in a rush without hearing from all of the defense team’s witnesses.

The legal action against the civil servants on strike comes at a time when the military government mechanism has been paralyzed by the CDM for over a month. Since the Feb. 1 coup, doctors have left hospitals, bank tellers stayed home and trains rarely left their stations as staff refuse to work under the men in uniform.

Furious at the collective resistance, the junta has threatened strikers with arrests and evictions from government housing.

Railway staff in Yangon joined the CDM. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

As the CDM continues to spread nationwide, the junta started to arrest around 50 civil servants who have gone on strike in protest at the military’s Feb.1 coup. Doctors, engineers, teachers, railway staff, directors and managers of governmental departments and administrative staff are among those who have been detained. A person who gave shelter to CDM staff and another who cooked for CDM staff were also arrested.

Several civil servants and doctors who face arrest have gone into hiding to evade detention.

The junta has also dismissed or suspended many striking civil servants from their jobs across the country. Others have been forced to move from government housing. Among the recent suspensions are 73 senior officers, including deputy directors and assistant directors, who were suspended from their jobs on March 11.

Around 1,000 workers and their families living at the staff quarters at Myanma Railways’ Mahlwagone locomotive shed in Yangon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township fled their homes last week after security forces raided their neighborhood. The railway workers there have joined the CDM in protest at the military regime.

Medical Professionals staged a protest against the military regime in Yangon’s South Okkalapa Township on Saturday./ The Irrawaddy

On Sunday, staff at the Sao San Htun Hospital in Shan State’s capital Taunggyi who have joined the CDM were threatened with being evicted from the staff housing unless they return to work by March 15.

Around 70 doctors and health workers from the hospital moved from the staff housing rather than return to work under the military regime. A number of doctors from the Sao San Htun Hospital went into hiding last month to avoid arrest.

One doctor who went into hiding told the BBC in a recent interview that they will continue their strike until the junta falls.

In Chin State, health workers from the Kanpetlet Township hospital were forced to move from the staff quarters after soldiers and police established a base at the hospital, according to local news outlet Chin World.

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