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Monks and student activists in Mandalay have called for the release of four protesters who were arrested and hit with charges after participating in demonstrations last week.
The activists, three of whom were members of the All-Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), were arrested on the evening of 13 December after joining monk-led protests earlier in the day.
The demonstrators at the rally on 13 December called on government officials to apologise for the excessive use of force during the violent police-lead assault on rally sites at the Latpadaung Copper Mining Project in late Novemenber.
The four activists were charge for violating Article-18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for protesting without permission from authorities.
On 16 December, the ABFSU and Buddhist monks held a joint press conference at Dhammi Karama Monastery in Mandalay, calling for the release of the four activists.
“We call for the unconditional release of the ABFSU members as well as activists from other groups,” said Moe Htet Nay, deputy-chairperson of the ABFSU’s Central Work Committee.
“Also we demand an amendment to Article-18 [of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law].”
According to the article, the township’s police commander is vested with the legal authority to decide who qualifies for the permits needed to hold a demonstration.
“During the protests to show support for the President, they were giving away these permits abundantly, but they never give permission to [protests] concerning important matters,” said Moe Htet Nay. “It doesn’t really support freedom of expression.”
Last Saturday, the government issued a formal apology to the monks who were injured in November’s crackdown.