Trial of nationalist protesters begins
The activists are being charged for protesting in front of the United States embassy in April over the use of the word “Rohingya”.
THE prosecution of seven nationalist protesters began on August 16 and continued yesterday in Yangon’s Kamaryut Township Court.
They are being charged under the 2012 Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for protesting in front of the United States embassy in April over the use of the word “Rohingya”, which the nationalists oppose.
The embassy had used the term in a statement to describe the Muslim minority living in northern Rakhine State, whom the former government had officially called “Bengalis”.
“We are just expressing the public’s wishes for how the government should take action and tackle issues,” said Magwe Sayadaw U Parmaukkha, one of the defendants. “So why are they silent on the Bengali-Rohingya statement? … We are protesting and responding according to the basic 2008 constitution’s section 364 that gives rights to every citizen.”
Two of the seven – Myanmar National Network chair Ko Win Ko Ko Latt, and the network’s secretary Ko Naung Taw Lay – are also being charged in Yangon’s Bahan township for alleged defamation of the government during a July 10 protest against the government’s decision that the Rohingya should be referred to as “the Muslim community in Rakhine State”.
“The government said this is a democratic state and government, but we cannot understand why they are still using the dictatorship section [of the penal code],” Ko Win Ko Ko Latt said.
The Kamaryut township charges can bring up to three months in prison and a K10,000 fine. For the Bahan township charges, the defendants face up to two years in prison.