Rakhine Politician Loses Appeal to Drop Defamation, High Treason Charges

By Min Aung Khine 14 January 2019

SITTWE—The Rakhine State High Court has rejected the appeal to withdraw charges against a prominent Arakanese politician and an author who have been detained since their arrest in January last year over their remarks at an event commemorating the 233rd anniversary of the fall of the Arakan Kingdom to the Burmese in 1785 held in Rathedaung Township, northern Rakhine.

At the event, politician U Aye Maung and author Wai Hin Aung reportedly expressed support for the Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic armed group recently denounced as an insurgent group by the Myanmar government after it launched attacks on four border police outposts in Buthidaung Township, northern Rakhine on Jan. 4.

The two men were facing charges for high treason, defamation of the State and unlawful association.

In September 2018, Sittwe District Court dismissed the unlawful association charges.

They then lodged an appeal to the Rakhine State High Court to withdraw the charges. The court however denied the appeal, said defense lawyer U Kyaw Nyunt Maung.

“That our appeal was dismissed means the verdict of the Sittwe District Court is affirmed,” said defense lawyer for Wai Hin Aung told reporters.

The two will face their trial at the Sittwe District Court. It is not yet clear if they will appeal to the Supreme Court of the Union.

If found guilty, the two face death sentences or life imprisonment for high treason, while the defamation of the State charge carries a maximum two years in prison and/or a fine.