Imprisoned Monywa activist facing new criminal charge carrying death sentence

The junta recently filed an additional charge for treason against Wai Moe Naing—a Monywa-based protest leader already serving 10 years in prison—which is expected to be accompanied by a death sentence if he is convicted.

His mother, Moe Sandar Kyu, said that the allegations that he violated Section 122 of the Penal Code were handed down on September 8. 

Wai Moe Naing was already found guilty in a military court of five counts of incitement. 

Among the 26-year-old’s many outstanding charges—totalling 28 years in prison if convicted—are allegations that he had ties to an “unlawful association” in violation of Section 17(1) of the Penal Code and that he committed other treasonous acts that violate Section 124.

The charges are concerning Wai Moe Naing’s affiliation with the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, a group of elected MPs ousted in the February 2021 coup and challenging the junta’s claims of legitimacy.  

His mother explained that these may now be dropped to make way for the recent, more serious charge.

“Because they added the Section 122 charge, which includes both of the former charges, he will no longer be facing the other charges,” she explained, adding that his hearing for the new treason case is scheduled for September 22. 

“Lawyers from Monywa do not want to take on his case anymore, so we have had to hire lawyers from Mandalay. But one of them was arrested and one was forced into hiding,” Moe Sandar Kyu explained. “Because we can’t ensure the lawyers’ security, we will no longer be hiring any more of them.”

She will be testifying on her son’s behalf for another Section 505 charge on September 20, a case brought forward after Wai Moe Naing led an April 2021 motorcycle rally in his Sagaing Region hometown. 

Wai Moe Naing was arrested during this protest after being hit by a car driven by junta personnel. The day after he was captured, the regime published a photo of Wai Moe Naing in custody with a bruised eye and swollen face, prompting fears that he had been tortured. 

He was chair of the Monywa University Student Union from 2014 to 2015, and is also a member of Monywa’s General Strike Committee and the Sagaing Regional Youth Committee. 

The junta has sentenced 126 prisoners to death since the coup, and executed four men in July of this year. Among them were 88-generation protest leader Ko Jimmy and former National League for Democracy parliamentarian and beloved musician Phyo Zayar Thaw. 

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