Human Rights Activist Denied Bail Again in Arakan State

By Saw Yan Naing 17 January 2017

Sittwe Township Court in Arakan State’s capital denied bail for the second time to human rights activist Khine Myo Htun on Friday despite bad health, according to his lawyers.

The activist has been detained since July last year and will appear in court for his next hearing on Jan. 27.

U Oo Kyaw Thein, one of Khine Myo Htun’s lawyers, told The Irrawaddy that he applied for bail on Dec. 30 last year. The defendant is taking medicine for weak nerves and has collapsed three times in the prison, his lawyer said.

U Oo Kyaw Thein has said he plans to appeal the bail decision to Sittwe district court. By law, he said, a defendant should be granted bail if they are in ill health and can guarantee that they will not flee the authorities.

Earth Rights International (ERI), an environmental group that Khine Myo Htun has worked for, criticized the court’s decision and called for charges to be dropped in a statement released Monday.

“We are deeply disappointed by the decision, because of which Khine Myo Htun’s health will continue to deteriorate,” executive director of ERI Ka Hsaw Wa said in the statement.

A letter from Khine Myo Htun’s doctor showing evidence of his health problems was also submitted to the judge, he said.

Khine Myo Htun, deputy-spokesperson for the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), was arrested on July 25 in Sittwe on charges of sedition and incitement under sections 505(b) and 505(c) of Burma’s Penal Code.

In April, the ALP incited controversy when it accused the Burma Army of violating the Geneva Conventions by targeting civilians for forced portering and torture.

The charges against Khine Myo Htun were filed by Lt-Col Tin Naing Tun from the Sittwe-based Regional Operations Command of the Burma Army on May 5.

The Arakan Liberation Army, the military wing of the ALP, was one of eight non-state ethnic armed groups that signed the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) last October with the former government.

ERI maintains that charges against Khine Myo Htun are politically motivated due to his work in human rights and environmental activism.

“This is yet another attempt to silence human rights advocacy and deter activists from exposing ongoing violations in Myanmar. We cannot revert back to the tactics used when our country was under military rule, now that the National League for Democracy controls the government,” said Ka Hsaw Wa.

ERI has reviewed the evidence supporting the ALP’s allegations against the Burma Army and has deemed them credible.

Additional reporting by San Yamin Aung.