Detained protest leader Wai Moe Naing meets with his lawyer for the first time, says mother

Prominent anti-coup protest leader Wai Moe Naing met with his lawyers for the first time on Thursday, more than a month after his arrest, according to his mother. 

The meeting took place during a court hearing in Monywa Prison, where he is currently being held, said his mother, Moe Sandar Kyu. 

The protest leader from Monywa in Sagaing Region faces a total of 10 criminal charges, including treason, murder, incitement, unlawful association, wrongful confinement, and armed robbery

“It was the first time for him to have his lawyers representing him at a hearing,” said Moe Sandar Kyu.

Thursday’s hearing was specifically related to the charges of incitement under Section 505a of the Penal Code, she said, adding that he had already appeared before the same prison court to face other charges. 

“The lawyers told me he is in good health and that there are no more injuries [on his body],” she said.

A day after his arrest, a photo of him in regime custody with a bruised eye and swollen face went viral on social media, raising fears that he had been tortured. 

Plainclothes regime officials detained him on April 15 after ramming him with a car while he rode a motorbike during a rally in Monywa.

Moe Sandar Kyu had expressed concern about her son’s wellbeing and health since he has suffered from high blood pressure for about six years.

On Thursday, family members were also allowed to send him personal items, she said. 

A hearing related to the murder charge against him is scheduled for next Wednesday, while another hearing on the incitement charge will be held the following day.

Wai Moe Naing rose to prominence for his role in organising daily anti-coup protests in Monywa, which sits on the eastern bank of the Chindwin River. 

The cheerful, round-faced leader came to be known affectionately as the “Panda of Monywa”.


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