Thousands Protest Sentencing of Kachin Youth Leaders in Myitkyina

‘There is no justice and a lack of rule of law,’ said one protester.
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Thousands of people protested in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina on Monday in opposition to a court decision sentencing three anti-war activists to six months in prison and a 500,000 kyat fine (US$320).

Those at the demonstration called for the release of Nang Pu, Lum Zawng and Zau Jat, who were convicted on December 7 of defaming the military in their calls for the protection of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kachin State’s conflict zone last May.

“Our three leaders tried to save the lives of Kachin IDPs who were caught in the clashes between the Burma Army and KIA [Kachin Independence Army] forces,” protest committee member Naw Awng told NMG, describing the court’s decision as “unfair.”

“We are calling for immediate release of our leaders and to find justice,” he added, a call that was echoed by other protesters, who described the move as an attempt to intimidate human rights defenders.

Chants at the protest included condemnation of the Myitkyina Township court, calls for a “free and fair” justice system, and for action to be taken against those who abuse others’ rights.

Protest leaders said that this action (sentenced to prison) may be a barrier in peace process as well as affect on public belief on their government during the democratization period and peace building period.

“The judge made a decision after listening to one side. It’s unfair. We can clearly see that there is no justice and there is a lack of rule of law,” one protester told NMG.

Charges were initially brought against Nang Pu, Lum Zawng and Zau Jat by Lt-Col Myo Min Oo of the Burma Army’s Northern Command. They were convicted of violating the Defmation Act’s Article 500 in their photos and statement released on May 1.