Peace Day activists fined for protesting without permission

Two activists who organised a demonstration on International Peace Day calling for peace in Kachin state have been fined by two township courts in western Rangoon for holding a rally without permission from local authorities.

May Sabe Phyu and Maran Jaw Gun on Tuesday were ordered by Sanchaung and Dagon township courts to each pay fines of 10,000 kyat (US$10) to both courts or risk serving concurrent terms of one month in prison.

The two were facing six counts of charges under Article 18 of the penal code – the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law – at courts in the six townships (including the two that passed sentences on Tuesday) that they marched through on 21 September 2012.

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May Sabe Phyu told DVB by phone that she and her co-defendant chose to pay the fine, as recommended by their lawyers, but maintained that this did not mean they were admitting any wrongdoing.

“In my opinion, Article 18 is a clause within the law that should not exist,” she said. “Also, I do not appreciate the judge stating in the verdict that ‘mercy’ was granted because we were marching for peace. We were given light sentences because of a legal loophole but it has nothing to do with being merciful.

“Honestly, I am completely disaffected with this verdict.”

While the pair must pay fines of 10,000 kyat each to Sanchaung and Dagon township courts, they still await verdicts by four other courts: in Botahtaung, Mingalar Taungnyunt, Pazundaung and Tamwe townships.

Last week six activists who protested against the brutal crackdown on Buddhist monks and activists in Latpadaung last year were sentenced to one month each in prison under the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law.

 

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