Embassy protesters jailed
FOUR accused people, including Win Ko Ko Latt, who led a protest in front of the US Embassy in Yangon over the United States’ use of the word “Rohingya,” were sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment on Thursday by Kamayut township court.
“In making protests, because the protesters shouted that US government was a 420 government (which refers to section 420 of the penal code on cheating), it affected bilateral goodwill and peace and tranquillity. Moreover it frightened the public and they were convicted of committing a crime,” said Kamayut Judge Daw Soe Soe Moe.
The four accused, including Win Ko Ko Latt, were convicted and sentenced by Judge Daw Soe Soe Moe to six months’ imprisonment under penal code 505(b) and one month imprisonment under section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, with days in custody deducted.
“To tell you the truth, we didn’t get legal protection. We were put in jail because we said there were no Rohingya in Myanmar. I don’t blame the judge. But there are insane people above the law,” one of the four, Naing Win Tun, told the media outside the court.
“President U Thein Sein said [there is no Rohingya.] So did the Commander-in-chief. So did U Nyan Win of the National League for Democracy. Even then, he was convicted,” said Ma Yi Nwe Aung, wife of Win Ko Ko Latt.
Win Ko Ko Latt, Magwe monastery monk U Par Mauk Kha, U Nyarna Dhamma, U Thu Seikta, Naing Win Tun, Nay Win Aung and Thet Myo Oo, who led the protest against the US for using the word “Rohingya” at the US Embassy, were prosecuted by Kamayut Police Captain Thein Han.
Then Kamayut General Administrator U Than Tun Aung also filed a suit against them under penal code section 505(b). Out of those seven, only four were sentenced. No mention was made of the three monks U Par Mauk Kha, U Nyarna Dhamma and U Thu Seikta.
MALAYSIA’S decision last week to dissociate itself from ASEAN’S united stand on the conflict in Rakhine State should not surprise anyone. Those who have followed this country’s foreign policy will immediately see through the ulterior motives of Malaysian leader Najib Razak. He has become a beleaguered ever since corruption allegations involving a public financial scheme began to surface at the end of 2014, when he was about to embark as ASEAN chair.
Malaysia has a long history of acting alone, trying to display its confidence as well as self-presumed morale high-ground. During the Cambodian conflict, Malaysia played the group’s devil’s advocate. When Thailand tried to mobilise ASEAN against Vietnam’s incursion into Cambodia in 1980, Malaysia wanted to do it differently and recognised its intervention. When ASEAN foreign ministers met with their Chinese counterpart in Kunming in June last year, Kuala Lumpur leaked a joint ASEAN statement with strong words against Beijing, which had not been approved by consensus.
Truth be told, Malaysia has promoted itself as a moderate, democratic and It-oriented country in recent years. The Najib government has been working hard to promote the Global Moderate Movement, which was adopted as an ASEAN agenda in 2015. ASEAN supported it because it would help Malaysia to promote the inter-faith dialogue and boost the group’s ties with the Muslim community around the world, especially members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. In fact, ASEAN could have