Remaining Karenni Youth Activists Released From Prison

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Five Karenni youth activists imprisoned for statements made in relation to their protest of a Gen Aung San statue erected in the state capital of Loikaw were released on Friday morning.

The youth were convicted of violating Article 10 of Burma’s Law Protecting the Privacy and Security of Citizens and sentenced to six months in prison.

“I am so happy for their release,” the activists’ lawyer Saw Khu Talay told NMG.

The activists include Khun Thomas, Pyar Lay, Dee De, Khu Reh Du and Myo Hlaing Win. One activist, Khu Kyu Hpae Kay—also known as Guugu—was released on November 25, as he had been arrested earlier than the others.

Karenni State parliamentarian Thae Reh said that he welcomes the release of the youth, but insisted that the state government needed to provide an explanation as to why they prosecuted and imprisoned the activists.

“The government needs to explain who this article is for,” Thae Reh told NMG, referring to Article 10 in the privacy and security law. “I thought this article was to protect the people. In practice, this article is used to oppress people. I think this article is unfair,” the representative from Hpruso Township Constituency 1 said.

The charges against the youth date back to March 25, when they released a statement accusing Karenni State chief minister L Phoung Sho, finance minister Maw Maw, and other officials involved in the erecting of the statue of Gen Aung San of betraying Karenni history and sowing disunity among ethnic peoples. The activists were charged with violating the Law Protecting the Privacy and Security of Citizens because their actions allegedly had a negative effect on the reputation of the state officials.

A Loikaw Township court accepted the case against the youth on August 26 and sentenced them to six months in prison on November 7, with credit given for time already served.