ALP supporters turn up at hearing defiant of threats
Despite warnings of arrest if they came to court yesterday without obtaining prior permission, supporters of a detained Arakan Liberation Party communications officer nevertheless peacefully attended the hearing.
SUPPORTERS of detained Arakan Liberation Party communications officer U Khine Myo Tun defied threats of police action by attending his hearing yesterday without obtaining prior official approval.
Last week, in an attempt to preemptively stave off protests at the hearing, Rakhine State officials warned U Khine Myo Tun’s supporters that they would be charged under the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law if they did not seek permission to protest the latest hearing.
According to a Sittwe official, more than 100 of the defendant’s supporters attended yesterday’s court session, none of whom had sought permission.
Supporters of the arrested ALP member stated that they had not broken the law as they were not protesting. They had simply come to the court to support the defendant, they said.
The supporters did not bring any signs or banners with them as they have done previously.
“Of course we attended the court hearing,” said one of the defendant’s supporters, monk Ashin Dama Thira. “But we did so peacefully with prayers. Therefore we did not break the law and we thought we did not need to apply for permission.”
The monk added that U Khine Myo Tun’s supporters don’t ever intend to apply for permission to attend the man’s court hearings.
Despite the Rakhine government’s stern warning last week, a police official in Sittwe, who did not wish to be named, said that there has been no direction from the government to charge the supporters and that it is possible that no action would be taken as they acted peacefully during the hearing.
“We have no plans to charge them,” the police official said.
U Khine Myo Tun was arrested on July 25 for alleged incitement and defamation under sections 505(b) and (c) of the penal code.
The case relates to a feud from early this year, when the ALP produced a report accusing the Tatmadaw of violating the Geneva Convention and forcing Rakhine civilians to act as porters and human shields. Several rights groups have accused the Tatmadaw of trying to strong-arm the ALP into withdrawing the report and issuing a retraction.
The Tatmadaw’s request has gone unmet.
Though the case is still in its early stages, the defence counsel for the ALP officer, U Myo Myat Hein, said he was hopeful.
“Not much has been said in the case so far. We will do our best in defending against the charges.” he said.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for October 10.