Trial of na­tion­al­ist pro­test­ers be­gins

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - AUNG KYAW MIN aungkyawmin@mm­

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.

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