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Arakan politician faces sedition charges in court

Khaing Myo Htun waves from a vehicle as he leaves Sittwe township court on 27 July 2016. (PHOTO: DVB)

The former deputy chairman of the Arakan Liberation Party, Khaing Myo Htun, appeared at Sittwe township court for the first time today since he was arrested for allegedly accusing the Burmese army of committing war crimes in western Burma.

Khaing Myo Htun is facing a charge of sedition under Penal Code articles 505(b) and (c). It is alleged that in April, via an ALP statement, he accused the Tatmadaw (armed forces) of extrajudicial killings of captured enemy combatants, as well as forcing civilians to serve as porters during frontline clashes against rebel group the Arakan Army.

The ALP dismissed Khaing Myo Htun from his executive position in mid-May. He had been wanted for not showing up at court summons after the army pressed charges against him, and was detained by police on 25 July.

Dozens of observers crowded around the courthouse in state capital Sittwe for Khaing Myo Htun’s appearance. The next hearing will be on 5 August.

The ALP is the political wing of the Arakan Liberation Army (ALA), a militia with an estimated strength of just 60 to 100 fighters. The ALA signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese government in 2012.