Trespassing and vandalism charges have been brought against two nieces of a Shan State farmer who died last month after setting himself alight in protest of military confiscation of his family’s land.
The charges were filed against Maw Maw Oo and San San Myint on 21 May, the same day that 63-year-old Myint Aung doused himself in gasoline and self-immolated in the village of Yepu in Taungyyi District, according to local National League for Democracy (NLD) party member Tin Maung Toe.
Before setting himself alight, Myint Aung had been told by the Burmese army’s Eastern Regional Military Command (RMC) that he would no longer be able to work the land that had been confiscated from him two decades ago.
He was taken to hospital but later died from his injuries.
Speaking to DVB on Monday, Maw Maw Oo said that she had been made aware of the lawsuit but had yet to receive any official notice from the police.
“We haven’t yet received a formal notice. We were told that charges were filed against us at the police station but we don’t even know what the charges are,” said Maw Maw Oo.
“We hope that the truth will prevail,” she said.
NLD member Tin Maung Toe told DVB: “An official of the RMC Capt. Win Tun Aung filed charges against the two nieces under Penal Code articles 427 and 447 for vandalism and trespassing.
“The Shwenyaung Township police on 31 May went to their house to look for them but they weren’t home,” he said.
The NLD have pledged to provide legal assistance to the two women, Tin Maung Toe added.
Local police chief Tun Myat Kyaw confirmed that the two are facing a trespassing charge under Article 447 but could not confirm the vandalism charge.
“I know that they were facing one charge under Article 447 but I don’t know about the other one as charges were filed by a Tatmadaw [Burmese army] official,” said Tun Myat Kyaw.
The RMC in 1994 confiscated over 5,000 acres of farmland in villages in the area but had allowed original owners to work the land as tenant farmers. On 21 May, Myint Aung was among the farmers told that a housing project was planned for the land that they cultivated.