Solitary protestor hit with charges

Solitary protestor hit with charges

The lawyer, who staged a one-man demonstration in Prome on 18 October, along with two youths who police claim assisted the attorney have been charged for protesting without permits.

Myint Aye was protesting against a controversial scheme that has increased the price of court stamps, which are necessary to file lawsuits. The lawyer held his demonstration the day after 200 fellow attorneys staged a peaceful protest in Rangoon. Ex-political prisoner Than Htaik Aung and Yei Kheh were also charged for allegedly assisting the lone attorney.

According to article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, demonstrators must file for permission five days in advance of their planned event and applications can be rejected at the authorities’ discretion.

Police questioned the three on 24 October before they were sent to Pyay township for a hearing, where their court date was set for 5 November.

“This is the people’s desire, expressed by me alone. It was not a procession. If you do that you need 15-20 people,” said Myint Aye.

According to Than Htaik Aung, he provided Myint Aye with transportation but was not taking part in the demonstration.

“Myint Aye already declared he was staging a solo protest,” said Than Htaik Aung. “It was very hot and I ferried him on my motorcycle as we use motorcycles a lot in our area. And they accused me of helping him and charged me.”

If found guilty by the court, the suspects could be sentenced up to one year in prison or fined 30,000 Kyat (US$ 35).

The three were released after paying 1 million kyat (US$ 1,173) in bail.

Earlier this month, activists who joined the widespread protests calling for sufficient electricity supplies in Mandalay in May were hit with similar charges. The move comes after authorities in Rangoon charged protestors for demonstrating without permission during the International Day of Peace rally in September.

While activists are being charged under existing laws, observers have pointed out that demonstrators who back the ruling party’s policies have been allowed to rally without permits and have not been charged.

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