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Local sources say a group of around 20 protestors were set upon and beaten by police on Wednesday in Thegone village tract, Pegu Divison. The attack followed a protest held by a group of farmers demanding return of land and marking the three-month anniversary of a police crackdown on a previous protest.
Pegu police were unresponsive to DVB’s request for confirmation and comment.
In February, more than 100 farmers from Aungon, in Thegone village tract, occupied a vacant plot of land for four days, calling for the return of 1,100 acres of land they say was confiscated by the Burmese military in 1997. On 14 February, some 60 uniformed policemen — accompanied by more than 100 other people not in uniform — beat the farmers before forcibly removing them from the site.
Four of the farmers were charged under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act — which requires permission to protest — in relation to the February sit-in.
On Wednesday, two people were seriously injured as 30 policemen assaulted a smaller group of the same farmers, according to Myint Aye, a lawyer. Credible images of the demonstrators and damages allegedly caused to their bodies have since been circulated on social media.
“The farmers, when they arrived at Tat village on the way back to Aungon, were attacked by some 30 policemen. A young man named Kaung Htet Kyaw, a farmers’ rights activist, was beaten senseless and handcuffed by the police,”said Myint Aye.
“Another villager named Daw Nyo was also beaten up and arrested – she was seen being taken into a lockup truck – and a man named Ko Win was also arrested,” Myint Aye said. Kaung Htet Kyaw avoided arrest after the local abbot in Tat village pleaded with police to let him free.
He said the attack took place after media reporters covering the event had left.
Last week, a court hearing led to five of the Thegone campaigners being charged with defamation of the state, Article 505(b) of Burma’s penal code. Thant Zin Htet, Pauk Sa, Daw Nyo, Daw Mone and Kyaw Thu were found to have breached the law in their evocation of a curse against the Burmese government, performed in retaliation to February’s arrests and beatings.
On 6 May, Pauk Sa was refused bail on the state defamation charge. He was taken to Paungde Prison. There more violence ensued as protesters convened outside the prison gates immediately after Pauk Sa’s arrival at the prison.
The Aungon protestors have vowed to continue their struggle until their lands are returned.