16 ar­rested in Yan­gon af­ter mid­night in­spec­tion

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - Aungkyawmin@mm­times.com AUNG KYAW MIN

Com­plaints to the po­lice by lo­cal na­tion­al­ists led to the de­ten­tion of 16 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a num­ber of Mus­lims study­ing the Ko­ran, in Thin­gangyun town­ship.

SIXTEEN peo­ple, in­clud­ing a num­ber of Mus­lims study­ing the Ko­ran, were de­tained in Thin­gangyun town­ship, Yan­gon Re­gion, af­ter com­plaints to the po­lice by lo­cal na­tion­al­ists. The po­lice were act­ing un­der a “mid­night in­spec­tions” law now un­der re­view in par­lia­ment be­cause of its use by the for­mer mil­i­tary regime to sup­press dis­sent.

The case came be­fore Thin­gangyun Town­ship Court on Au­gust 8, when the 16 ap­peared on charges un­der the 1949 Res­i­dents of Burma Reg­is­tra­tion Act. The court al­lowed them bail only af­ter a lo­cal MP warned that de­tain­ing them fur­ther could lead to un­rest.

The ar­rests fol­lowed com­plaints from the na­tion­al­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion Myan­mar Na­tional Net­work, said its rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ko Win Ko Ko Latt. The MMN had in­sisted that po­lice take ac­tion un­der the con­tro­ver­sial law, which car­ries penal­ties of up to two years’ im­pris­on­ment, with hard labour.

The vis­i­tors were de­tected by three lo­cal of­fi­cials – town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cer U San Myint, im­mi­gra­tion and na­tional reg­is­tra­tion de­part­ment of­fi­cer U Nann Myint and Po­lice Ma­jor Thet Naing Tun – who found Aung Myint Cho and nine oth­ers in his house dur­ing a check of the ward.

U Nann Myint ap­plied to the court un­der sec­tions 6(2) and 6(3) of the law.

A sub­se­quent in­spec­tion dis­cov­ered San San Win and five oth­ers per­sons, who were ac­cused of the same of­fence. In each case, some of the overnight vis­i­tors were Mus­lims.

At their ini­tial court hear­ing on Au­gust 8 the de­fen­dants were de­nied bail be­cause they could not pro­duce the nec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion.

Lo­cal MP U Maung Maung Oo (NLD; Thin­gangyun 2) told The Myan­mar Times, “The vis­i­tors are Mus­lim students from the lo­cal re­li­gious school, as well as some from nearby town­ships. About half the de­fen­dants ap­pear to be Mus­lims.

“A group of peo­ple gath­ered out­side the court to protest against the re­fusal to grant bail. I told the judge there would be un­rest if the de­fen­dants were not freed. The judge granted bail af­ter I un­der­took to en­sure that the nec­es­sary doc­u­ments would be pro­duced.”

The de­fen­dants have to reap­pear in court on Au­gust 17.

Myan­mar Na­tional Net­work spokesper­son Ko Win Ko Ko Latt said his or­gan­i­sa­tion dis­cov­ered the 16 when they were fol­low­ing up a war­rant in an un­re­lated mur­der case. Po­lice took ac­tion un­der the 1949 law only af­ter his sup­port­ers gath­ered out­side the lo­cal po­lice sta­tion.

Thin­gangyun town­ship’s other Yan­gon Re­gion MP, Nay Phone Latt (NLD; Thin­gangyun 1), took to so­cial me­dia to warn res­i­dents not to be swayed by the views of hard­lin­ers. “We want to get this sorted out. The vis­i­tors were just per­sonal friends, but the na­tion­al­ists whipped this up on­line as a racial and re­li­gious case to try to cause trou­ble.”

Town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tors brought in se­nior monks in the Sangha Nayaka re­li­gious af­fairs com­mit­tee in an ef­fort to re­store calm af­ter na­tion­al­ist monks be­came in­volved in the af­fair.

“They car­ried the se­nior monks to the town­ship to control the other monks. The se­nior monks in­ter­ceded with the po­lice to help re­solve the sit­u­a­tion,” said Myan­mar Na­tional Net­work rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ko Naung Taw Lay.

He added, “We took ac­tion to make sure there would be no trou­ble. It’s not true we were car­ry­ing sticks and knives. We only got in­volved be­cause the au­thor­i­ties were tak­ing no ac­tion. Now that the de­fen­dants have ap­peared in court we don’t have to go any fur­ther.”

Photo: Kaung Htet

Po­lice con­duct a late-night drill in Yan­gon.

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