Burma: Eight Chin activists convicted; fined

Burma: Eight Chin activists convicted; fined

Friday 25 July 2014
INFORMATION RELEASE: for immediate release
Burma: Eight Chin activists convicted; fined

[Chiang Mai, Thailand] On Wednesday 23 July eight Chin activists – charged under article 18 of “The Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act” with protesting without permission – were convicted in Matupi township court under presiding Judge Aung Mya, and ordered to pay fines of 30,000 kyats each the same day.

Ngun Chin Par, Sui Sui Kyi, Kaw Htwe, and Khin Khin Zi from the Zotung Women’s Organization appeared in court in Matupi on 22 July, and were ordered to appear again on 23 July. On the same day, Thang Zing (F) and Khin Thluai Par (F) of the Matupi Women’s Organization, and Maung Han (M) and Tei Mang (M) of the Matupi Youth Association also appeared in court.

One of the activists on trial reported to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), “The judge said we cannot avoid being charged under Article 18 and that the law has to be followed. He asked us to choose between paying the fines and going to prison. So, we chose to pay the fine.” Judge Aung Mya set the prison term at one month each, and the fine at 30,000 Kyat per person, the maximum financial penalty set out under Article 18. All eight activists unanimously chose to pay the fine rather than go to prison.

CHRO will release more detailed information when it becomes available.

Background
On 10 June, a 55 year-old woman from Rezua sub-township in the Matupi township area of Chin State was brutally beaten during an attempted rape by Burma Army soldier Private Myo Thura Kyaw from Light Infantry Battalion No. 269. It is unclear what action if any is being taken against the perpetrator.

On 15 June, activists from the Zotung Women’s Organization (ZWO) in Rezua sub-township applied to the Rezua police station for permission to hold a demonstration in protest at the incident. They then faced threats and intimidation from local officials. Although the activists from ZWO were not granted permission to hold the demonstration, they went ahead with it on 23 June. In Matupi town, activists from the Matupi Women’s Organization (MWO) also applied for official permission to hold a demonstration from their local police station, but were refused. They went ahead with their demonstration as planned on 24 June.

Shortly afterwards, the four activists from Rezua and the four from Matupi were summoned to their local police stations and charged under Article 18 of “The Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act” with demonstrating without permission, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison. The order to file the charges reportedly came from Chin State Chief Minister Hung Ngai, a former Brigadier-General from the Burma Army.

Including this recent case in Rezua, CHRO has documented five sexual violence cases since President Thein Sein’s government took power in March 2011, three of which have been committed since the initial ceasefire agreement was signed between the government and ethnic armed resistance group the Chin National Front in May 2012. All but one of the incidents were perpetrated by Burma Army soldiers. Burma signed the United Nations Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict earlier in June, but no concrete action has been taken.

-ENDS-

Media interviews:
Rachel Fleming, CHRO Advocacy Director (English): +66862110732
Mai Thin Yu Mon, CHRO Program Officer (Burmese, Lai & English): +959420045830

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