Independent candidate arrested for sedition

Independent candidate arrested for sedition

An independent candidate in Phyu has been arrested and charged for her alleged involvement in a protest last year.

Myat Nu Khine, who is contesting a Lower House seat in the Pegu constituency, was arrested on Saturday on charges that she participated in a rally in front of the Chinese embassy in Rangoon in December last year. The protest had been organised by activists to condemn the fatal shooting by riot police of a local villager, Khin Win, during an altercation with local residents opposing the Letpadaung copper mine site in Monywa.

Myat Nu Khine was brought before Dagon township court in Rangoon on Monday and arraigned on charges including sedition (under Article 505(b) of the Penal Code), and protesting without permission (Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, commonly referred to as Article 18).

Speaking to DVB by phone on Monday, Myat Nu Khine denied that she had been involved in the Rangoon protest, insisting she was merely an interpreter.

“I acted as a translator at a rally in front of the Chinese embassy on 14 December. It may have appeared to authorities that I was joining in the protest,” she said. “I have been charged on the customary articles 18 and 505(b), and for ‘disturbing an official on duty’ as well.

“They [officials] came to my house on 29 January but missed me as I was out, attending to other business. I didn’t realised I was facing so many charges, and I didn’t take it too seriously as they never came back nor had my name been published in the newspapers. I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong, but now I’m accused of being a fugitive.”

She told DVB she was arrested in Phyu while having lunch with one of her campaign organisers, and taken to Rangoon in an unmarked vehicle.

Myat Nu Khine was taken into custody in Insein Prison following her court hearing on Monday. She said her election campaign will continue despite the arrest.

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Seven other candidates are competing against her for a seat in the People’s Parliament representing Phyu, most notably Shwe Mann of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann contested the 2010 election in the Naypyidaw constituency of Zayarthiri, where he won easily.

The National League for Democracy, which did not contest the general election in 2010, will field candidate Than Nyunt in the race for Phyu this time round.

In 2010, the USDP’s Nyunt Hlaing won the Lower House seat for Phyu with nearly a 50,000-vote majority over his nearest rival, Than Htay of the National Unity Party.

Read more election coverage here.

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