Rights Activist in Myanmar Sentenced for Giving Judge Broken Scales of Justice

By Zarni Mann 6 September 2019

MANDALAY— A Kachin rights activist found guilty of violating the Peaceful Assembly Law received an additional sentence of three months in prison on Friday for giving a set of broken scales to a judge in Myitkyina Township Court.

Ko Paul was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment on Sept. 2 for violating Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Law. When the sentence was handed down, he gave Judge U Than Tun a set of broken scales to show his dissatisfaction with the sentence.

The judge responded by filing a lawsuit against Ko Paul for disturbing the duties of a civil servant and for insulting and disrespecting the court.

“I gave him broken scales to represent the collapse of the judiciary in this country. The scales of justice in this country are broken. For that, I’ve been sentenced to three months imprisonment. This shows Kachin State, the country and the world that there is no justice,” Ko Paul said after leaving the court and before he was escorted to Myitkyina Prison.

Ko Paul and fellow Kachin activist Ma Seng Nu Pan were sentenced to 15 days imprisonment by the same court on Sept. 2 for organizing a street performance on June 9 to mark the eighth anniversary of the renewal of armed conflict in Kachin State.

Ko Paul’s lawyer U Mar Kha said his client did not interrupt or insult the judge.

“Insulting the judge means swearing. Paul did not do any brutal acts against the court, such as hitting something, kicking or beating the judge. The sentence is unjust. Ko Paul simply criticized the weakness and collapse of the judiciary, he did not insult it,” said U Mar Kha. “If we can’t have the chance to criticize or tell the truth, there will be no rights and we can’t achieve democracy.”

Demands for freedom of assembly and fair trails and complaints about the government’s prosecution and imprisonment of anti-war demonstrators have been mounting in Kachin State. Hundreds of protesters gathered in the state capital on Thursday and called for fair trails for Ko Paul and Ma Seng Nu Pan. They continued the protest on Friday and have plans for one more day of protest.

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