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The activists who organised the International Day of Peace rallies in Rangoon and several other towns last Friday have been charged for protesting without a permit.
Generation Wave’s Moe Thway said about 15 activists from different civil society groups who led the rallies on 21 September calling for an end to the war in Kachin state were charged under article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for demonstrating without official permission.
“Of the Generation Wave members: Kyaw Kyaw Bo, Phway Yu Mon, Khin Sandar Nyunt and me are being charged. We are also coordinators in Kachin Peace Network whose members Kyaw Gon, former [military] captain Nay Myo Zin and May Sabei Phyu are also being charged as well as Wei Lu of [Rangoon] Civil Assistance Network and farmers’ activist Win Cho,” said Moe Thway.
Several of the activists initially planned to travel to Naypyidaw early Friday morning to call for an end to the country’s civil wars but were prevented from leaving the city by authorities. The demonstrators then join other activists and marched across Rangoon.
Outside of Burma’s commercial hub, Bo Bo Han in Shan state’s Aungban township was hit with similar charges along with Aung Thu and Nay Myo in Taunggyi. A monk in Pegu division’s Prome will also face charges for protesting without a permit.
According to Moe Thway, the rallies aimed to call for peace in the country and were not intended to incite unrest.
Nay Myo Zin, former army captain and charity worker who was released from prison during the amnesty in January, said he was questioned by police from six different townships in Rangoon.
“We’ve been sued by [police] in the townships we went past under article 18. We did seek official permission to practice our right to express ourselves but were denied without being given a specific reason,” said Nay Myo Zin.
Several of the group’s leaders complained that authorities rejected their applications after they presented the necessary documents required to secure a permit
“The rally was peaceful and there was no violence. I would like the [authorities] to weigh whether this in anyway was a threat to our people’s safety,” said Nay Myo Zin.
“Now the police are taking us in and questioning us after things went well and it’s making [Burma] a laughingstock in the international community’s eye.”
Rangoon division’s Police Department officially announced at a press conference on Friday that it would prosecute the organisers behind the demonstrations.
“The [activists] wanted to rally for peace and it was turned down and they didn’t have enough time to apply for the permission so they went without it,” said said Rangoon trial lawyer Ko Ni.
“It’s counter-productive to sue them for doing that.”