Burma

Students Face Prosecution for Protest Against Rakhine Govt, Myanmar Military in Sittwe

By Khaing Yoe La 21 October 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine State—Police have opened a case against four students under the Sedition Law for staging a protest against the Rakhine State government and the Myanmar military in the state capital, Sittwe, on Monday.

“They were charged under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code. As bail is not granted for this charge, they were remanded in custody and sent to Sittwe Prison,” said lawyer U Kyaw Nyunt Maung, who is acting for the four students.

Two of the detained students are from the Rakhine State Students Union, one is from Kyaukphyu Education College, and the fourth is from a Rakhine students union in Yangon.

Dozens of students joined Monday’s protest, shouting slogans including “Burmese Government Get Out”, and “Burmese Army Get Out”.

Police Major Zaw Naing of Sittwe Police Station filed a complaint against the four on Tuesday and they are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 3, according to U Kyaw Nyunt Maung.

Section 505(b) of the Penal Code states that whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumor or report with intent to cause, or which is 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 shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years, or a fine, or both.

Students stage a protest in Sittwe on Oct. 19, 2020. / Khaing Yoe La / The Irrawaddy

Sittwe University Students Union chairman Ko Toe Toe Aung said a democratic government should not prosecute students for bringing attention to people’s suffering.

“We are just reflecting people’s suffering. People have the right to criticize the government. Every free democracy guarantees this right. The leader of the current elected government also said that [people have the right to criticize the government]. Government leaders should reconsider.”

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach Police Major Zaw Naing for comment.

Earlier this month, two students from the All Burma Federation of Student Unions were sentenced to two years in prison under the Sedition Law for staging a protest in Mandalay calling for an end to armed clashes in Rakhine State.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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