Police Officer Who Charged IDP Protesters Appears in Court

The police officer who charged two Kachin youths with violating Section 19 of Burma’s Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Act appeared in the Myitkyina Township Court on Wednesday for a hearing into the case.

Police officer Min Thant Zaw charged the two youths, Pawlu and Seng Nu Pan, for their role in organizing a pair of street performances held on June 9 to mark the eighth anniversary of the war in Kachin State.

The performances, which took place at Sein Mya Aya Park and Public Square-2 in Myitkyina, aimed to raise awareness of the plight of the thousands of people forced to flee their homes and live in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The pair were charged under Section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Act because they “gathered people without permission,” according to police records.

Reporters who went to the courthouse to seek comment from Min Thant Zaw were unable to do so.

“The plaintiff [Min Thant Zaw] told the court that we didn’t have an official permit [for the protests], so he charged us with breaking Section 4 of the Peaceful Assembly Law. He said he didn’t know anything else [about the case],” Pawlu told KNG.

The two Kachin youths pleaded innocent to all charges against them at a hearing on June 12.

“This was not a protest against the government. We were just showing how IDPs are suffering. I don’t think there is any need to charge us. We already discussed our plans with police officers before we held the street performances,” said co-defendant Seng Nu Pan.

The next hearing is scheduled to take place on June 26, when the court will hear testimony from witnesses for the prosecution.

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