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Mandalay activist handed maximum sentence under Article 18

Thein Aung Myint was sentenced to six months imprisonment under Article 18 (Photo: DVB)

An activist accused of leading a demonstration in Mandalay last year, demanding justice after the killing in military custody of journalist Par Gyi, was sentenced to six months in prison with labour on Thursday.

Thein Aung Myint, a member of the Myanmar Democratic Current Force (MDCF), was given the maximum sentence by a judge at Mandalay’s Aungmyay Tharzan township court under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for organising a public protest without official permission.

“The verdict was passed [on Thursday], handing my client the maximum punishment of six months in prison with labour under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law,” defense lawyer Ywat Nu Aung told DVB by phone.

She said Thein Aung Myint wanted to appeal against the verdict.

“I had a short time to speak to my client after the verdict was announced. He said he planned to appeal as he considered certain words used by the judge to be harmful to his dignity as a political activist.”

Another Mandalay-based political activist, Aye Thein, insisted his colleague Thein Aung Myint did not take part in the protest in question, which took place on 27 October last year, and said that he was falsely accused.

“Ko Thein Myint Aung previously went to the police station in Aungmyay Tharzan to submit an application for permission to hold a rally. He was taken in for questioning at around 6pm on 27 October. But we went ahead with the protest at 6:30pm, so he could not have taken part,” said Aye Thein. “The charges against him indicate a lack of rule of law, and the fact that my colleague was given the maximum sentence shows that the law does not protect the people.”

On 23 March, Thein Aung Myint and his wife were also sentenced to six months in prison under the same charges for staging a separate protest against increasing electricity prices.