Military to Prosecute Protesters in Kyaukme

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Tatmadaw’s True News Information Team has reported that the Burma Army will prosecute three organizers of a protest in Kyaukme, northern Shan State.

Locals in Kyaukme held a demonstration on Friday—attended by thousands—demanding that legal action be brought against perpetrators of military violence and justice served in cases of civilian deaths after clashes between the Burma Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State from June 25-29.

Kyaukme Township parliamentarian Sai Tun Win said that no notice has been issued from the court, although, according to the True News Information Team, the organizers of the protest will be charged with violating of Article 19 of the peaceful demonstration act and Article 18 of the anti-contagious disease law.

“We saw this news reported by media outlets. Regarding this, local people haven’t got any notice letter from court,” he told NMG

After the protest, Tatmadaw’s True News Information Team reported that army would prosecute against Sai Than Maung, Zawtika, and Ahriya, who led the demonstration.

“They mainly demanded that the Burma Army investigate these cases. They demanded that respective officials investigate these cases because soldiers shot a civilian dead,” parliamentarian Sai Tun Win told NMG of the protesters.

Sai Yawd Leun, who is working with the Shan Human Rights Foundation described the legal action against demonstrators as another failure by the Tatmadaw to take responsibility for its violence.

“The Tatmadaw needs to take responsibility for the victims, but the Tatmadaw has failed to do this again. The Tatmadaw has yet to see that it is guilty,” he explained. “They are trying to blame the people… I think it is intentional, they are threatening people. They are creating fear in people,” he said, adding that the prosecution represented yet another human rights abuse.

MP Sai Tun Win did not want to comment on the charges, and pointed out that organizers had launched the protest before they had received official permission to demonstrate.

On July 9, organizers reported to the Shan State government that they were planning to protest in Kyaukme because of recent military violence in the township.

“Soldiers have arrested civilians and made them work as guides. Sometimes the local people could not answer their questions because they could not speak Burmese, so soldiers beat these people. That’s why the demonstration is targeting the army,” Sai Kuu, who is working with the Kyaukme-based Nam Khong Social Volunteer Team, told NMG.

Lung Su, from Pan Kyin village, was killed by shrapnel in the clashes between the Burma Army and the RCSS in late June. Local woman Nang Aye Seng suffered gunshot injuries, and another man, Lung Aung, was reportedly beaten unconscious by government soldiers. Some 600 people were displaced by the fighting.

“Many abuses cases were ignored in the past. People think that the recent murder case has been ignored too. That’s why they demonstrated against it. Lung Su was shot dead by soldiers. Lung Aung and Nang Seng got injuries. The army didn’t take any responsibility. Local people are afraid that this kind of abuse will occur again in the future,” Sai Kuu told NMG.

According to parliamentarian Sai Tun Win, civilians are at risk of death and injury in Kyaukme due to clashes and frequent shootings directed at cattle trucks.

Four Kyaukme parliamentarians including Sai Tun Win reported the most recent death, of Lung Su, to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission. He said that the commission responded that they would take action.