Two jailed members of the Movement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF), including its founder, were back in court again yesterday, this time for distributing leaflets claiming National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and members of ethnic political parties had formed an interim government.
The group’s founder, Htin Kyaw, and member Naung Naung were charged with violating Section 505 (B) of the Penal Code, which makes it illegal to publish and disseminate information that can, among other things, alarm the public.
The trial was held at the Kyauktatar Township Court. Both men have been sentenced, and face other charges, at numerous townships in Yangon for violating a host of laws rights groups have described as tools for controlling dissent. Though small, the MDCF is a very vocal protest group. Its members have in the past advocated on behalf of farmers involved in land disputes and against specific pieces of legislation that limits public protests, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.
On July 7, about 30 of its members demonstrated in Kyauktatar Township to show they had no confidence in the government President Thein Sein. “We did not apply for the permission to protest, but we told authorities [we would],” a member of MDCF said.
Protest leader Naung Naung was arrested the next day, interrogated for 14 days and then sent to Insein Prison, MDCF members said.
Naung Naung said all the protesters had been rounded up by police after their protest, but officers at the township police station said there were too many to process so it sent them home. He said that he was arrested at 1am the following day.
The trial against Naung Naung and Htin Kyaw for allegedly violating Section 505 (B) will resume on August 18.
UPDATE 5.08.2014 Yangon-Thingangyun court sentenced activist Htin Kyaw, the leader of the Movement for Democracy Current Force, who staged anti-government movement, to one year and hard labour for insulting the State on August 5.
The activist on April 20 staged a protest about the anti-government at Sanpya Market in Thingangyun Township, saying only the people are the master and he is against the current government. Moreover, he distributed anti-government leaflets to the people. For that reason, he was charged for insulting the State, an offence under Section 505 (b) of Penal Code.
“The authorities arrested Htin Kyaw in South Okkalapa which was the eleventh township he staged protests. He was found guilty of the same charge. His lawyer will try for him to be sentenced altogether for the same charges,” a member of the MDCF said.
Thingangyun court made him to stand a trial seven times and he was sentenced to one year and hard labour for insulting the State of the Section 505 (b) of Penal Code on August 5.
Htin Kyaw was sentenced to six months and hard labour by South Okkalapa court, one year and hard labour by Dagon Myothit (North) court, one year and hard labour by Dagon Myothit (East) court, one year and hard labour by Dagon Myothit (South) and one year and hard labour by Thingangyun court. The sentence to Htin Kyaw has totaled four and half years under Section 505 (b) so far.
Moreover, he received three months’ sentence by Kyauktada court under Section 18 as he protested against the eviction of Thameekalay village by the authorities. Similarly, Bahan court sentenced him to three months as he led the protesters who asked for getting back the lands from Migyaunkan grabbed by authorities staging the protest in front of Aung San Suu Kyi’s house. He has received six months’ sentence under Section 18.
The leader of the MDCF has got five years’ sentence under Section 505 (b) and Section 18. Although he received prison terms, he would face further trials regarding the same charges from another six townships under Section 505 (b).
Ko Htin Kyaw, the leader of Movement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF), tried for distributing anti-government pamphlets in public has been sentenced to one year in jail with hard labour by South Dagon Myothit Township Court yesterday.
Back in April 26, Htin Kyaw had declared his lack of confidence in union government saying that only the public is the rightful ruler and handed pamphlets in Ward-71 of South Dagon Myothit Township. Then, the township police force had filed a lawsuit against him.
During the trial in court, police reportedly had to put the defendant under control as he showed his protest by lying down on the floor.
“Immediately after Htin Kyaw got out from the car that took him to the court, he started lie down on the floor and yelling his wishes; rebelling the court. The police nearby grabbed him in his limbs and put him in custody. We felt sorry to see him in such condition. The police explained that they just did that way to prevent further misbehaviour. But it should have be done more tenderly,” said Nay Myo Zin from Social Development Network, who witnessed the scene.
The court condemned Htin Kyaw under Section 505 (b) of Penal Code for defaming the State on his ninth court hearing.
“As we insisted the police stop detaining him by force, the situation got a little tense. But everything returned to normal before long,” said a member of MCDF on condition of anonymity.
Moreover, he has already been sentenced to one year each in prison under the Section 505 (b) by the courts of Eastern and Northern Dagon Myothit Townships on July 21.