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.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NYAN LYNN AUNG YI YWAL MYINT news­room@mm­times.com

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.

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