Nationalist Monk Again Denied Bail for 2016 US Embassy Protest

By Nyein Nyein 22 December 2017

YANGON — Yangon’s Kamayut Township court again denied bail for nationalist monk U Parmaukkha for the charge of Section 505 (b) of Myanmar’s Penal Code on Friday.

U Parmaukkha served a one-month prison term on Nov. 21 for violating the Peaceful Assembly Act for staging an unauthorized protest in front of the US embassy last year.

The judge rejected the request for the bail, although the defendant’s lawyer requested bail given that the monk was an elder and he had completed his prison term this week.

Violations of Section 505 (b), which covers offenses that are “likely to cause fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public, whereby any person may be induced to commit an offense against the State or against the public tranquility” are punishable by a maximum of two years in prison, a fine, or both.

The township court will hear the testimonies of three of six witnesses from the plaintiff’s side in regards to the 505 (b) charge next Thursday, Dec. 28.

U Parmaukkha told the public before and after the court hearing “there was nothing in my words that could be charged under 505 [b].”

He said the court continued the trial based on the signature of plaintiff U Than Tun Aung, which he alleges was forged. The judge rejected a request to dismiss the case on Friday.

Daw Khin Mar Oo, the sister of the abbot, told The Irrawaddy that her brother should be released, as he is a good man. “They [the authorities] still will not release him although he is innocent.”

In August last year, Yangon authorities granted permission to a nationalist group to hold a protest at the Bo Sein Hman grounds, but they rallied in front of the US Embassy instead and staged a protest over the embassy’s use of the term ‘Rohingya.’

U Parmaukkha was one of three Buddhist monks who were charged alongside four nationalists in August last year under Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code and Section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law.

Four nationalists – Win Ko Ko Latt, Naung Taw Lay, Thet Myo Oo and Nay Win Aung – were arrested a few weeks after the protest and sentenced to seven-month prison terms for both charges by the same court on September 28 this year.

U Parmaukkha was detained on Nov. 12 when he went to North Dagon police station to seek permission to stage a protest over the alleged confiscation and sale of a land plot by the Yangon municipality to a third party.

The monk came to prominence as a supporter of pro-democracy activists under the military regime. Since 2013, however, he has increasingly been identified with nationalist groups, including the former Ma Ba Tha.