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The four gold miners who were assaulted and arrested during a march to Naypyidaw last month have been hit with additional charges for protesting without permission.
The miners were arrested on 23 November during a march on Naypyidaw in protest of the Mining Ministry’s decision to suspend mining operations at Moehti Moemi gold mine to make way for a private company that had been awarded a tender to manage operations in the area.
According to article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, demonstrators must file for permission five days in advance of the event and applications can be rejected at the authorities’ discretion.
The four protestors were also charged with sedition on 30 November.
Ei Mon Kyaw, a wife of one of the detained miners, said her husband and his three colleagues appeared at a hearing in Yedashe township’s court in Pegu division and were denied bail.
“They requested bail at today’s court hearing and got rejected because they live in different locations from one another and granting them bail would cause delays for court appointments in the future,” said Ei Mon Kyaw.
The four miners are set to appear in separate court hearings for each charge. The next round of hearings for the sedition charge are set to begin on 6 December, while the courts will hear the case regarding the miners’ violation of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law on 7 December.
The state’s decision to prosecute the miner comes at a tenuous time for Thein Sein’s government as it attempts to maintain its image as a democratizing force in region while also protecting the investments of cronies with deep ties to the military.
Last week, the government ordered a major crackdown on protestors at Latpaduang Copper Mine where several monks were burned by incendiary devices and chemical agents. The assault was reminiscent of the brutal crackdowns by the former military junta.
Experts following the events claim the crackdowns on protests across the country serve as a cruel reminder that the government remains committed to protecting the military’s assets and foreign investments in the country at the cost of brutally repressing its own population.