Myanmar: two students targeted by night raid, charged and threatenedEvent
- Initial Date
- Sep 12, 2020
- Event Description
The Myanmar authorities should cease responding to criticism of the government and military with arrests and prosecutions of students protesting human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. They should immediately drop charges against the students and unconditionally release those in custody.
At least 20 students around the country have been charged or are facing arrest under various laws after joining protests or sticker campaigns critical of the government or military, including criticizing the mobile internet shutdown in Rakhine and Chin States, according to the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU).
“The Myanmar government deserves a failing grade for intimidating and harassing students peacefully expressing their views,” said Linda Lakhdhir, Asia legal adviser. “Neither criticizing the government nor peacefully protesting should be a crime, and the authorities should stop treating them as such.”
On September 10, 2020, members of the student federation conducted a “sticker” campaign in solidarity with Rakhine students who had been arrested the previous day for protesting internet restrictions. The ABFSU members distributed fliers and stickers demanding that 3G and 4G data services be turned back on across eight townships in Rakhine and Chin States. The slogans included: “No bloody government. No murder army” and “Oppose murder and fascism and stand together with the Rakhine people.”
On September 12, the Special Branch unit of the police conducted a nighttime raid on the home of Paing Min Khant, a student in North Okkala, Yangon. “When the police knocked on our door, they told us that they were coming into our home to take temperature checks as part of neighborhood health checks for Covid-19,” Paing Min Khant told Human Rights Watch. “But then they came in and told us they had filed complaints against us under section 19 of the Peaceful Procession and Peaceful Assembly Law in Mayangone and Kyauktada townships [in Yangon].”
Police took him and another student, Wai Yan Phyo Moe, to the Mayangone township police station, where they were told they would face charges under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for failing to notify police when distributing anti-war fliers and stickers in downtown Yangon.
Myanmar’s Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law requires organizers to give notice to the authorities 48 hours before holding a protest or assembly. The law carries a maximum penalty of three months in jail and a fine. Treating the distribution of stickers and flyers as an “assembly” requiring notice is a new and overly broad reading of that law, Human Rights Watch said.
The authorities also threatened Paing Yin Khant and Wai Yan Phyo Moe with possible additional charges under section 505(b) of the Penal Code, which carries a penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine.
The pair said police later took them to the Kyauktada township police station and questioned them about the whereabouts of other students before finally releasing the two around midnight. The students said the police did not immediately file charges against them but said they were conducting the investigations as part of an “open” case.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Other (e.g. undefined, organisation, community)
- Enactment of repressive legislation and policies
- Intimidation and Threats
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to liberty and security
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 12 September 2020, Paing Yin Khant and Wai Yan Phyo Moe, students, were apprehended by the police in a night raid, charged under a repressive law and threatened with further charges for a solidarity campaign held the day before in Yangon, Myanmar.