MANDALAY — Two men who participated in protests in Mandalay calling for the government to immediately rescue villagers in Kachin State who have been trapped due to violence between the Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) were arrested on Tuesday.
Ko Aung Hmine San and Ko Soe Moe were listed in a lawsuit filed by police against protesters under Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law.
The two protesters were at a teashop in Mandalay when police showed up to arrest them. They requested that they be allowed to return home to collect some personal belongings.
Ko Aung Hmine San’s wife Ma Lei Lei New said her husband did return home. Police then arrested him under Article 19 and took him to the No. 8 police station.
Article 19 is a bailable offense, however, the two men refused to leave on bail and instead decided to face trial and remain in detention.
The two protesters appeared in court on Wednesday, where the police received the court’s permission to detain them and send them to Obo Prison.
Demonstrations urging authorities to rescue trapped locals in Kachin State and calling for an end to the clashes have risen in the past week, primarily in Yangon and Mandalay, following an initial protest camp in Myitkyina, Kachin State. Thousands of locals have been displaced by recent fighting between the Myanmar Army and the KIA.
Since Monday, police in Mandalay and Yangon have filed lawsuits against nine protesters under Article 19.
On Tuesday, protesters held a candlelight vigil at the southern side of the old palace wall in Mandalay to show solidarity with the Kachin people.
“We are doing this for the people suffering due to armed conflicts. We do this for peace. We have to ask why the authorities oppress us in this way. Don’t they want peace?” asked Ko Than Htike, who participated in the vigil.
“We were saddened by the actions of the authorities. We want the immediate release of the arrested protesters and we will continue protesting until the trapped villagers of Kachin State are safe,” he added.