Latpadaung activist Thaw Zin sentenced to 15 months

Latpadaung activist Thaw Zin sentenced to 15 months

Activist Thaw Zin was handed a 15-month prison sentence at a court in Monywa on Monday for his role in helping local villagers protest against land seizures at the Latpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Division.

According to Thaw Zin’s father, Thein Dan, the former political prisoner was convicted to three months for criminal trespassing, and given concurrent sentences of six months for the crimes of “disturbing public tranquility” and “disobedience duly promulgated by a public servant”.

Speaking to DVB, Thein Dan said he initially believed the rule of law would prevail, but he was wrong.

“I am sad, but what can I do?” he said.

Local residents in the villages around Latpadaung, which is situated near Monywa in central Burma, rallied around, saying the verdict was unfair.

“I am not satisfied with the verdict against Thaw Zin. The court was not impartial,” said local supporter Than Myint.

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Thaw Zin was arrested by plain-clothed police on the morning of 11 February as he walked between Tonywa and Shwehle villages in Salingyi Township where the controversial copper mine is located. Htay Yi, an activist who was with Thaw Zin at the time of his arrest, said she was assaulted in the incident.

Police rejected her allegation on the grounds that it did not qualify as an assault by law, “as it was not premeditated”.

Less than a week later, four Latpadaung villagers were charged by police for holding a demonstration to demand the release of Thaw Zin.

The controversial copper mine project is a joint venture between Chinese company Wanbao and the Burmese military-backed Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings.

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