SITTWE—Eight Arakanese youths detained in connection with a protest in Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U in January were released on bail on Tuesday.
On Sept. 24, the eight were pronounced guilty by Sittwe Township Court for breaching Article 6 (1) of the Penal Code for allegedly destroying government property and public assets, and were sentenced to eight months in prison. They were later released as their detention period was deducted from their prison term.
However, later the same day they were re-arrested by police under Section 16 of the Union Flag Law which carries a maximum of three year’s imprisonment and/or a fine of no more than 300,000 kyats ($195).
The eight were remanded in custody and at a trial on Oct. 9, the Mrauk-U Township Court ruled that they should not be tried under Section 16 of the Union Flag Law.
However, they were only released on bail by the police who said that there are other charges filed against them, defense lawyer U Tun Aung Kyaw told The Irrawaddy.
“The police have also charged them under Sections 332 and 333 [of the Penal Code] so bail was granted according to police procedures and they were released,” explained U Tun Aung Kyaw.
Section 332 of the colonial-era Penal Code describes the offense of causing harm to a public servant on duty, while Section 333 describes causing grievous harm to a public servant on duty.
“Police have released them on bail so that they can detain them again anytime,” U Aye Maung Thein, father of one of the detainees, told The Irrawaddy.
A legal support team from the Arakan National Party is acting on behalf of the eight Arakanese youths, said U Tun Aung Kyaw.
Lawyer U Tha Zan said that it is not in line with the law to arrest and charge the eight again after they were released.
Thousands of Mrauk-U residents staged a protest on Jan. 16 after officials canceled a memorial event to mark the 233rd anniversary of the end of the Arakan Dynasty. Local police opened fire on the crowd, killing seven and wounding 12.
The eight youths released on bail today sustained serious injuries during the police crackdown and were transferred to Sittwe Hospital before being charged under Article 6 (1) in February.