Three Fined for Demanding Release of Jailed Kachin Antiwar Activists

By Chit Min Tun 19 December 2018

YANGON—A court in Myitkyina, Kachin State has fined three activists who led a rally calling for the release of three imprisoned anti-war protesters.

On Dec. 11, Sut Seng Htoi, Brang Mai and Seng Hkum Awng led a demonstration against the imprisonment of three activists who were convicted earlier this month of defaming the Army after leading an antiwar protest in April. Around 5,000 local residents took part in the Dec. 11 demonstration. Myitkyina Township police charged the three under Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law.

“Sut Seng Htoi was fined 100,000 kyats, and the other two were fined 300,000 kyats each,” Maran Seng Htwal, a member of the protest’s organizing committee, told The Irrawaddy.

According to township police, demonstrators used the Kachin State flag without permission and held up placards reading “Failed democracy?” and “Failed law”, as well as pictures of the three imprisoned anti-war demonstrators.

They were protesting the Dec. 7 sentencing by Myitkyina Township Court of Lum Zawng, Nang Pu and Zau Jat to six months in prison and fines of 500,000 kyats each for defaming the Myanmar Army during the anti-war protests in April. The plaintiff in that case, a military officer of the Myanmar Army’s Northern Command, took the three to court over the protests, which called for the rescue of 2,000 locals displaced and trapped by fighting between the Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) near the village of Awng Lawt in Tanai Township.

Activists said they would continue their campaign, including lodging an appeal for the release of the anti-war demonstrators.

“We will also seek their unconditional release [through activities] outside the court,” Maran Seng Htwal said.

“Demonstrations calling for the rescue of innocent civilians are not defamatory. They were simply calling on the parties involved to rescue innocent civilians,” Maran Seng Htwal, who is also the manager of the Yangon branch of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners told The Irrawaddy.

June 9 marked the seventh anniversary of renewed clashes between the Myanmar Army, or Tatmadaw, and the KIA after a 17-year truce between the Tatmadaw and the KIA collapsed in 2011. More than 100,000 locals have been forced from their homes into camps across Kachin State since then.