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Detention of Mr Ko Htin Kyaw on Charges of Insulting the State

By Front Line Defenders  •  August 9, 2013

On 2 August 2013, human rights defender Mr Ko Htin Kyaw was arrested on charges of insulting the state after participating in a peaceful protest against illegal land seizures on 30 July 2013. Three other peaceful protesters, themselves victims of illegal land seizures, were arrested alongside him.

Ko Htin Kyaw is the director of theMovement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF), a community-based organisation working to promote development and democracy in Burma.

Ko Htin Kyaw and the three protesters were summoned to the police station of North Oaklapa Township, Yangon, where they were charged under section 505(b) of the Penal Code for insulting the state. They were then immediately led to Court, where the arrest was endorsed and the four were led to Insein prison. They were not given any opportunity to contact a lawyer and were refused bail. If Ko Htin Kyaw is found guilty, he may be sentenced to up to 3 years imprisonment.

The charges relate to a peaceful protest held on 30 July 2013 outside the North Oaklapa Court, in which Ko Htin Kyaw participated. Several participants in the protest – including those detained alongside the human right defender, Messrs U Lu AyeMa Sein Htweand Ko Myint Naing – had been the victims of illegal evictions when their land was seized by a local man. The protesters wanted to peacefully express their frustration at the government which had not forced the man in question to return the land, despite an acknowledgement from the authorities of the land seizure’s illegality and the existence of considerable evidence to support the claim. Reportedly, protesters speculated whether the man had connections to government figures.

Front Line Defenders is concerned that the charges against Ko Htin Kyaw and the other peaceful protesters are directly related to their human rights activities and their exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

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This post is in: Press Release

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