Organisers of pro-student prayer protest charged

Organisers of pro-student prayer protest charged

Three activists in Mandalay Division’s Meikhtila who organised a prayer protest in March calling for non-violence to be shown towards education activists have been charged by local police.

Khin May Si, an information officer of opposition party the National League for Democracy (NLD), Myint Myint Aye of the Social Assistance Network, and May Thet Oo of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society face charges under the Constitution’s Chapter 354 – the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act – for organising a protest without official permission.

Myint Myint Aye told DVB the three were charged on 4 May and released on two million kyat (US$2,000) bail each.

“We had a court appointment yesterday. We signed affidavits and were released on two million kyat bail – our trial day has been set weekly for Fridays, starting this week, on 8 May,” said Myint Myint Aye.

If convicted, the activists face imprisonment of three years, a fine of US$30, or both, under Article 18 of the act.

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At the event on 4 March, Meikhtila residents assembled at a pagoda in the town bearing placards and held a symbolic prayer protests, calling for no violence to be used against education activists who were protesting against the National Education Law. ‘Columns’ of students had been marching towards Rangoon from all over the country to protest the widely unpopular law.

“We held candles, flowers and placards, and rallied with members of the NLD, 88 Generation and All Burma Federation of Student Unions, forming a group of about 70 people. We then went to the pagoda, praying for non-violence and gave speeches, imploring the president U Thein Sein not to use violence against the students,” said Myint Myint Aye.

The students’ education protest was in fact met with a heavy-handed police crackdown on 10 March in the town of Letpadan in Pegu Division. Seventy protesters have been detained at Tharawddy prison since their arrests during the crackdown, and are currently standing trial on charges including unlawful assembly, rioting and disturbing the peace.

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