Trial begins for leaders protesting at Chinese embassy

Four people who led a protest in front of the Chinese embassy in Yangon on December 19 against the death of local resident Khin Win during a protest at the Letpadaungtaung copper mine in Sagaing Region began a court hearing at Dagon Township Court yesterday.

Nay Myo Zin, Naw Ohn Hla, Sein Htwe and Tin Htut Paring were arrested on December 30 and charged under six sections of the Penal Code of Myanmar. However, no questioning took place in their first appearance in court and the trial is set to resume on January 20. 

“There was no questioning today. We had no chance to ask questions. What I want to say is the government does nothing for change. When I was taken from my home, I was charged under Section 18 (of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law). Later, I was detained under various sections. In the previous charges against me under Section 505(A), I was released on bail. But now I was not allowed bail,” Naw Ohn Hla told the Daily Eleven.  

“We are being charged under the wrong sections. The authorities said we used abusive language but we didn’t. We only chanted a slogan “Get out Wanbao (the Myanmar Chinese company engaging in the Letpadaungtaung project.) We were also told we attempted to harm the state image. Actually, we sang the national anthem,” said Tin Htut Paing.

The government usually takes a tough line on Letpadaungtaung protests staged at the Chinese embassy.
On December 10, 2013, Naw Ohn Hla, Tin Htut Paing, Aung Soe and Sithu were prosecuted for setting fire to the Chinese flag.