Eleven members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS) who staged a rally in Magwe in June calling for a revision of Article 436 of the Constitution have now been charged with trespassing by local police.
The 11 were summoned on Thursday morning to Magwe central police station where they were questioned about their involvement in the demonstration on 9 June and then informed that they were being charged with trespassing. They were formally charged in court later that afternoon.
Tin Aung Tun, the NLD’s legal assistance committee member in Magwe, is among those being charged in the central Burmese town.
“Local prosecutor U Thaung Shwe charged us under Article 447 [of the Penal Code],” he said. “The police originally summoned us on 4 July and told us they were liaising with the judiciary to decide which charges should be brought against us.”
Two NLD officials and an 88GPOS member were formally charged in July for using a loudspeaker at the same rally under a local administrative law.
The 11– identified as the NLD’s Nay Myo Kyaw, Than Aung, Than Naing, Chit Htwe, Ye Tint and Soe Moe; and the 88GPOS’ Hla San, Maung Maung Soe, Than Tun Aung, Nyo Aye and Tun Khine Oo – were sued by Magwe Division’s Religious Affairs Department administrator Thaung Shwe for organising the public rally on the grounds of Aye Zedi Pagoda in the town on 9 June.
“Regarding the rally, we negotiated in advance with the pagoda’s trustee committee as well as local ward authorities, township police and administrators – we have all the evidence to prove this is true,” said NLD Magwe Secretary Nay Myo Kyaw.
“We have truth on our side and are prepared to face the charges peacefully and in accordance with the law – we did not do anything wrong.”
88GPOS’s Hla San said, “The event took place four months ago – it ended successfully and in a disciplined manner – and I believe that they are taking action against us just because they want to. We will stand together to fight this.”
The object of the June protest, Article 436, states that 75 percent of parliament must approve any constitutional amendments. As the military controls 25 percent of all seats in both houses, critics say this clause effectively gives the military veto power over all constitutional reform.