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Nay Myo Zin, who carries the dubious honour of having been the first political prisoner detained under Thein Sein’s reformist government, will face court on 4 March on fresh charges.
The former military captain, now coordinator of Myanmar Social Development Network, was arrested and charged on 18 January after leading a protest of hundreds of farmers from more than 30 townships across Burma, who gathered in front of Rangoon City Hall the previous day. The group called for the release of jailed activists, constitutional reform, and the establishment of a farmers’ union.
The charge comes under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law.
Fellow activist Win Cho was arrested alongside Nay Myo Zin and will too face court on 4 March, under the same charge. Their application for a right to protest had been rejected.
Nay Myo Zin spent nine months in jail in 2011 after police found articles on his laptop allegedly defaming the Burmese military. The former military man turned charity-worker received a ten-year sentence and reportedly suffered a broken pelvis while in Insein Prison. Nay Myo Zin’s wife told DVB that he would have to be stretchered over to see her when she visited the infamous prison.
Nay Myo Zin was released January 2012 via a presidential amnesty. Since then he has faced multiple charges, including the possession of an Aung San Suu Kyi T-shirt and matching key ring.
Myanmar Social Life Development Network, which had previously received government funding, says it works to improve the lives of people in rural Burma through infrastructure and training programs. The organisation, as of last year, had installed six drilled wells, 58 water pumping machines and 28 libraries in remote villages, according to its website.