Election candidate held for peaceful protest


Protestors gather outside the Chinese Embassy in December 2014, Photo: Mizzima

Protestors gather outside the Chinese Embassy in December 2014. Photo: Mizzima

A candidate standing for election to Myanmar’s Lower House of Parliament has been detained and charged for participating in a peaceful protest that took place 10 months ago against the shooting to death of a protester. She is a prisoner of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said in a statement on 20 October.

Myat Nu Khaing, a medical doctor and independent election candidate in Phyu Township, Bago Region was arrested by the Phyu Police Chief on 17 October at a restaurant as she was taking a lunch break from her campaigning activities. She was arrested for participating in a peaceful protest which took place in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, on 29 December 2014, during which protesters were calling on the Myanmar authorities to investigate the death of Khin Win.

Khin Win was shot dead on 22 December 2014 when police opened fire on protesters demonstrating against land being taken over for the Letpadaung copper mine project in Sagaing Region, central Myanmar. Local communities and activists have been opposing the development of this copper mine because of concerns about environmental damage, risk of forced evictions and the negative impact on the communities' rights including to housing, food, and work. The Myanmar authorities have responded to such opposition by using excessive force against peaceful protesters on several occasions and by resorting to arbitrary arrest and detention, the statement said.

Following her arrest, Myat Nu Khaing was taken to the Dagon Township police station in Yangon. On 19 October, the Dagon Township Court charged her with a series of offences under the Penal Code including: inciting the public to commit offences “against the State or the public tranquillity” (Article 505(b)); “assaulting or preventing a public servant from the discharge of his duty” (Article 353); performing “obscene acts and songs” in public (Article 294); “assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot” (Article 152); and “rioting” (Article 147). Myat Nu Khaing was also charged with participating in an unauthorised assembly under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law.

She faces up to nine years and nine months in prison. She was denied bail at the court hearing and is currently detained in Insein prison in Yangon.

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