Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sit-in protesters sued under section 505(b)

Five laymen and eight monks, who led a sit-in protest camp in Mandalay, have been charged under Section 505 of the Penal Code for conducing public mischief, Mandalay Region authorities said.

Sit-in protesters against the government shout back at people who oppose them, near Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon on August 5. Aung Myin Ye Zaw/The Myanmar TimesSit-in protesters against the government shout back at people who oppose them, near Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon on August 5. Aung Myin Ye Zaw/The Myanmar Times

Police dismantled the protest camp before dawn on August 5 and Mandalay officials held a press conference to explain about the arrest and prosecution of the protest leaders.

“We took advice from Union Government and Sangha Maha Nayaka and we held meetings several times before taking this action,” Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Maung said at the news conference.

“We have done in accordance with the law. We can boldly guarantee that there was no violence in removing the camp,” he added

The protest, which started on August 2, wanted to take down the government based on groundless facts and as it is assumed that the protest was disturbing the peace and tranquility, it has been cleared, the minister said.

In clearing the camp, 11 monks and 2 women were arrested and the rest were released as there were no pending warrants against them, according to regional police chief Colonel Aung Soe Win.

Police are still looking for two more monks and five laymen, he added.

“If the public inform us, we will be able to arrest them in no time. We have issued arrest warrants and we will continue with arrest procedures.” he said.

Nationalist activists, monks and some people opened a protest camp at Sasana 2500 Building in the west of Maha Myat Muni pagoda, Chan Mya Tharzi township and called for stepping down of the government.

Authorities have negotiated with the protesters several times and they were requested by Sangha Maha Nayaka to end their mass action by 10:00 pm on Aug 4.

Penal code secton 505(b) states that whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report, with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility; shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

In Yangon, where a simultaneous protest was held on August 2, police were searching for monks and individuals involved in the mass action near the Shwedagon Pagoda, according to No. 2 Bahan regional parliamentarian U Thaung Htut on August 6.

U Thet Naung, deputy administrator from Bahan township administration department has filed lawsuit against the individuals and monks with section 505 (b) of Penal Code, according U Thaung Htut.

Police are still looking for two monks, including U Panya Wuntha from Bangladesh monastery, six men and two women, he said.

“They have issued arrest warrant. They are altogether 10. The Sangha authority will arrest the two monks. When Bangladesh monastery was searched, the monks were not there anymore,” said the U Thaung Htut said.

While attending a conference of all religions on August 5, Minister of Religion and Culture Thura U Aung Ko said the protesters in Mandalay and Yangon are just trying to create inter-communal unrest using religion.

“We cannot regard it protests if it just includes some monks and monk’s bowl overturned. There are criteria if monks protest and strong reasons… but these protesters’ demands are groundless,” the minister said.

In combating extremist religious organizations, not only religious teachings but also legal actions would be taken, he added.