The Burma Army should take legal action against perpetrators of violence against civilians rather than prosecuting organizers of a protest against this violence, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) has said.
The Burma Army’s True News Information Team reported on July 10 that the military would be charging organizers of a peaceful protest in Kyaukme, northern Shan State, with violating Article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law and Article 18 of the Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases Law.
The protest had been held on the same day and was attended by thousands of local people who demanded justice for victims of military violence, specifically for a man shot and killed in Pang Kyin village and two others injured in fighting between the Burma Army and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) at the end of June.
“The army is going to prosecute the organizers of the protest. It’s not the right way to solve the problem. They should take legal action against the perpetrators,” Sai Lek, the general secretary of the SNLD, told SHAN.
He said that the army was supposed to protect people and provide security for the country, but that in the case of Burma, it was “committing abuses against the people.”
“People protested against them because they cause suffering for the people,” Sai Lek said.
It is known that the organizers of the protest were from Hai Kwee village in Kyaukme Township, and include local men Sai Than Maung, Zawtika, and Arliya.
Parliamentarian for Kyaukme Township Sai Tun Win said that the army has yet to make an official announcement that the charges have been issued, and knowledge of the prosecution remains limited to the True News Information Team’s statement.
“We are negotiating with respective officials to not prosecute the three protest organizers,” Sai Tun Win told SHAN.
According to local reports, soldiers from the Burma Army’s Infantry Battalion 23, based in Hsipaw, shot dead Long Su, aged 58 in Pang Kyin village in Hai Kwee village tract in southern Kyaukme on June 29, 2020. Pang Kyin resident Nang Seng also suffered gunshot injuries, and Sai Aik Maung, who lives in Akee village, was beaten by soldiers and hospitalized.
Thousands of protesters carried banners stating, “We don’t need a Tatmadaw that kills innocent people” on the July 10 demonstration in Kyaukme.
“Instead of paying reparations to the victims, they are trying to prosecute the protesters. In my opinion, they are oppressing people and making them fearful. It shows there is no rule of law,” the SNLD’s Sai Lek told SHAN.
He added that the military should take responsibility for its actions and prosecute those responsible for the violence, and that the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission should also take legal action.
“The prosecution [of protesters] cannot make people trust the army,” he said.
The Burma Army attacked the RCSS in Kyaukme multiple times between June 25 and 29. The RCSS is a signatory to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government and military.