Court To Decide If Karenni Activists Broke The Law
By Network Media Group (NMG)
Thursday, October 31, 2019
A Kayah State court will determine whether or not to convict Karenni youths imprisoned since last Spring. Police charged six youth for opposing a controversial statue of Gen Aung San statue erected in a park in Loikaw that led to numerous protests and dozens of arrests.
Khu Kyu Hpae Kay, one of the defendants, said they didn’t break the law, calling their arrests politically motivated.
The accused made their final arguments at their 17th court appearance on October 29.
“They arrested us after negotiations (over wide-spread opposition against the statue) weren’t successful. They’ve prosecuted us without evidence…everybody knows it’s unfair,” Khu Kyu Hpae Kay (aka Guu Gu) told NMG.
The court will enter a verdict on November 7, said Khu Kyu Hpae Kay, and then everyone will witness whether or not the government is willing to manipulate the justice system for its benefit.
Ko Deede, Myo Hlaing Win, Pyar Lay, Khu Ree Du, Khu Kyu Hpae Kay and Khun Thomas were arrested on March 25 after releasing a statement criticizing the Kayah State chief prime minister and finance minister for destroying Karenni history and creating discord among constituents.
L Paung Sho, Kayah State chief prime minister, and Maw Maw, finance minister, sought legal action, claiming the statement tarnished their reputation and insulted their dignity.
Police charged the defendants for violating article 10 of the state protection law on August 26.
Myo Hlaing Win, one of the defendants, said L Paung Sho and Maw Maw failed to attend their August hearing to present their accusations and it should be thrown out of court according to the law. Additionally, using a law intended to protect the people to criminalize them is absurb.
“The weakness of this law is that it doesn’t protect its people but those with power,” defense lawyer, Saw Khu Talay, told NMG.
If convicted, the defendants face a sentence from 6-months to 3-years and a fine from 300,000k (US$197) to 1,500,000k (US$985).