Court Refuses Bail for Elderly Trio Detained Over Land Protest

By Zarni Mann 26 September 2018

MANDALAY — The Mandalay District Court on Wednesday denied bail to three residents of Patheingyi Township who were detained after protesting against the construction of a new cement factory in their area.

“The court said the case is still in the witness-questioning stage, so it cannot allow the trio to be bailed out,” said U Sithu, their lawyer.

Daw Mya, Daw Mya Mya and U Than Paing of Aung Thabyay village were arrested in July after they refused to give up their land to make way for the expansion of a road in preparation for the building of the cement factory. A lawsuit was opened against them under regional road and transportation laws.

They staged a protest against the project after being told that they would not be compensated for the land.

A fourth detainee, Daw Aye, who was seriously ill at the time of her arrest in July, was earlier granted bail.

The Patheingyi Township Court rejected an initial appeal for bail submitted by the three detainees’ families at the time of their arrest. In August, the lawyer submitted another bail appeal to the Mandalay District Court.

“It is a bailable offense and we don’t understand why the court did not grant it. There is no danger that these three people will run away. They are old and too weak to stay in prison. The court should think about their health, too. We will submit another appeal to the divisional court,” the lawyer said.

According to their families, Daw Mya and Daw Mya Mya are not in good health. They are suffering from depression due to their stay in prison and the constant fear of losing their land.

The trio is detained at Obo prison. Under the lawsuit opened against them at Patheingyi Township Court they face six months to three years’ imprisonment.

Four other villagers are also the subjects of lawsuits under Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Act at the same court for participating in the protests in July. Like the detainees, they were protesting the construction of the cement factory and the road-expansion project after being told they would not be compensated for their land.

Chinese-owned Myint Investment Company is constructing a coal-powered cement factory on over 600 acres of land in the Aung Thabyay village area, about 37 km north of Mandalay.