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Four activists who organised a protest against sexual violence in the town of Matupi in Chin State have been charged for staging a rally without permission – Chapter Three of Burma’s controversial Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act.
Women’s rights activists Thang Zin and Khin Lwe Parh, and Chin Youth Organisation members Mong Han and Tate Manh, were summoned to the Matupi police station around noon on Wednesday after they had led some 200 local demonstrators through the streets the two previous days.
“The women were interrogated by police who informed them of the charges and instructed them to wait for the court summons,” said Mai Alli of the Chin Women’s Association. “The local police chief apparently told them not to be worried – as they might be let off with just a fine.”
The two Chin Youth activists, Khin Lwe Parh and Thang Zin, were released on bail at around 5pm on Wednesday.
Khin Lwe Parh later told DVB that she led the protest to raise awareness and call for an end to rampant abuses in the region, including domestic violence, and said she would face any charge for doing what she believes in – promoting female empowerment.
“I will go to prison and take whatever punishment they give me for doing what I can for women’s rights,” she said.
Thang Zin said she will continue to educate women so they know their rights, and to protect and defend them in cases of sexual and domestic violence.
“There is a tradition in Burma that women are not allowed to talk back to their husbands, and due to a lack of rule of law, they are reluctant to make an issue of the domestic violence they suffer, which encourages the perpetrators even more,” she said.
“We staged the protest to raise awareness, and encourage women not to be afraid to speak out.”
Another group of female activists who held a similar protest in nearby Rezua sub-township concurrently with the rally in Matupi have also been summoned by police.
The organisers of the two protests requested permission from local authorities and police prior to the events in accordance with the law, but their applications were rejected.