Relatives of Deceased Protester Charged by Military

By Nang Seng Nom 2 June 2015

RANGOON — The military’s Eastern Command has leveled charges against two nieces of farmer Myint Aung, who last month set himself on fire on the outskirts of Taunggyi to protest land seizures, over allegations that the pair trespassed and “acted against state interests”.

Maw Maw Oo, told The Irrawaddy that she and her sister San Myint had been named in a complaint made at Nyaung Shwe Police Station by Capt. Win Tun Oo, the manager of the military-operated Kyaukni Farm.

The pair were charged for working at the farm without permission. Maw Maw Oo said that other villagers work on the farm without formal permission and they were targeted because of their relation to Myint Aung.

“The head of Nyaung Shwe Police Station and a police officer came to my house yesterday evening for us. I was outside and did not meet them,” she told The Irrawaddy by phone on Monday, adding that they had not returned home on Monday evening for fear of arrest.

The duty officer at Nyaung Shwe Police Station confirmed that Capt. Win Tun Aung had filed the complaint.

Tin Maung Toe, the chairman of the Taunggyi branch of the National League for Democracy, said the complaint was filed with the police station on May 21, the same day that Myint Aung self-immolated. He told The Irrawaddy that he believed Maw Maw Oo and her sister were specifically targeted because of their uncle’s actions.

“Many people grow there, but only two people have been charged,” he said.

Myint Aung and his family owned about 14 acres of land in Ye Pu Village on the outskirts of Taunggyi that was seized by the Eastern Command in 2004. He and others were allowed to continue cultivating their fields for a small fee until last year, until a state government edict put a stop to the tenancy payments.

Myint Aung, 63, succumbed to his injuries at Sao San Tun Hospital in Taunggyi on May 22. His funeral the following day was attended by nearly 600 people, most of them nearby villagers who had been subjected to similar land confiscations.