Youth Protesters Charged With Multiple Offenses
By Network Media Group
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Five youths arrested in Putao in Kachin State were charged with a number of offenses after participating in protests against the military government.
A local helping them told NMG that lawyers were denied access to the youths on several occasions while they were detained at the Putao prison. He heard they’re now out on bail and will go to trial on March 5.
The youths are Lazum Awng Dee, Sinwah, Malaungpe Nawng Awng, Zang Traim Seing and Hpong Rok Hpe Nan.
Zang Traim Seing is charged with Article 17/1 for unlawful association. Everyone is charged with Article 505/b for committing an offense against the state and Article 144 for unlawful assembly.
“They didn’t commit any crimes and they weren’t violent. Yet they were unfairly arrested and charged under various unjust laws. We must try to secure their freedom,” said a young person who didn’t want their name used.
“They’re trying to threaten them so they don’t join protests again. But after their arrests many people participated in the demonstrations against the military government.” There’s only 50,000 people in Putao but almost 10,000 have joined the two hour long protests, which are happening everyday, the source told NMG.
Protests in the small, remote town in northern Burma started on February 8.
An open letter demanding their release was sent to the Kachin State Administrative Council, created by the military government after it staged a coup on February 1.
“We already know that demonstrating in Putao won’t change the situation in Burma but we want to show our solidarity with protesters in Yangon and Mandalay. If the protests end in Yangon and Mandalay, our demonstration will also end here. If they arrest and charge protesters in Putao it will only make the situation worse,” the youth told NMG.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma, there have been 696 arrested, charged or sentenced since February 1. There are 646 who are still in detention or have warrants issued for their arrest. At least 4 were already sentenced and 47 have been released.