Protesters Seek to Halt Multiple Court Cases

By Lawi Weng 12 October 2012

A court in Rangoon’s Dagon Township said yesterday that it would decide on Oct. 24 whether to accept a request from the leaders of an unauthorized protest held last month to have their case tried in a single court.

A lawyer for two Kachin activists who led a march through six townships on International Peace Day on Sept. 21 made the request on the grounds that it wasn’t necessary for his clients to face the same charges at different courts in each township.

“All the charges are the same. There’s no need to repeat the process six times. Under our judicial system, they should only have to be tried once in a single court,” Zaw Zaw Aung, the lawyer for the two peace activists, told The Irrawaddy on Friday.

Maran Jaw Gun and May Sabe Phyu are facing charges of violating laws against unlawful gatherings and holding a protest without permission for their march opposing the ongoing war in northern Burma’s Kachin State.

The march went through Dagon, Sanchaung, Tamwe, Mingalar Taung Nyunt, Botataung and Pazun Taung townships.

The two activists will have to appear at a court in Sanchaung Township on Oct. 15 and at another court in Botataung Township the following day. The next hearing in Dagon Township will take place on Oct. 24.

“This is a strategy to pressure us physically and mentally and to warn Kachin people not to take part in protests,” said May Sabe Phyu, noting that others who had violated the same laws weren’t treated the same way.

“The government says we are all equal before the law, but I don’t really believe it,” said the mother of three, adding that she and her co-defendant would continue to consult with the Myanmar Lawyers’ Network in their legal battle for their rights.

“If our government really wanted to have democracy, something like this would never happen. This just shows the world that our country is still far from democratic.”