Two Anti-war Demonstrators Jailed for 2 Months Over Yangon Protest

By Zarni Mann 22 May 2018

MANDALAY — A court in Mandalay’s Chanayethazan Township sentenced two anti-war demonstrators to two months’ imprisonment on Tuesday for violating the Peaceful Assembly Act.

Ko Aung Hmine San and Ko Soe Moe were arrested on May 8 and sued under Article 19 of the act.

Article 19 is a bailable offense, but the two protesters refused to post bail and stood trial while in detention.

At Tuesday’s court session, the judge said the two protesters were found to have violated the act by failing to seek permission from local authorities before staging a May 6 protest.

“Using the Peaceful Assembly Act to suppress freedom of expression is unjust. We demonstrated nonviolently in support of peace and to urge the responsible armed groups to stop fighting,” Ko Aung Hmine San said after the court session.

“We believe in the [National League for Democracy-led] government and its struggle for peace. However, we don’t believe that other institutions want to join hands with the NLD government,” he said.

Since early May, numerous protests have been staged in Yangon and Mandalay calling on the government to take action to help local residents trapped by fighting in Kachin State, and calling for an end to the conflict there. The demonstrations spread to Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin, where a protest camp was set up.

Thousands of villagers have been displaced by the recent spike in fighting in Kachin State.

Police in Yangon have arrested 19 protesters at a series of rallies. Most were released on bail and are being sued under Article 20 of the Peaceful Assembly Act.

In Mandalay and other cities, two protesters have been arrested while at least six others are on a list of protesters being sued by local police for violating Article 19.

On May 9, the same court in Chanayethazan Township sentenced Ko Kalint to two months’ imprisonment under the same law for participating in the peace protest in Mandalay.

“Our situation shows that people who do not want peace are threatening others who want peace,” Ko Soe Moe said after the court session on Tuesday.