Junta accuses Wai Moe Naing of treason as charges pile up 

State media has announced that “plans are underway” to prosecute prominent anti-coup protest leader Wai Moe Naing with treason and unlawful association, among other criminal charges.

Plainclothes regime officials arrested the 26-year-old earlier this month after ramming him with a car while he rode a motorbike during a rally in Monywa, Sagaing Region.

Monywa authorities have already charged him with comitting murder, wrongful confinement, armed robbery, unlawful assembly, and incitement, and with violating Covid-19 rules, a report published in military-controlled newspapers on Thursday said. 

“According to his confession, plans are underway to take effective action under Sections 17 (1), 124 and 511 of the Penal Code,” the report said, referring to the newer accusations.

The treason and unlawful association charges are related to Wai Moe Naing’s affiliation with the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group of ousted MPs set up to challenge the regime’s legitimacy.  

The junta declared CRPH an unlawful organization late last month and charged some of its members with incitement or treason. The two laws carry three and 14-year prison sentences respectively. 

Wai Moe Naing was associated with Lwin Ko Latt and Zin Mar Aung, who were recently appointed as ministers in the National Unity Government established by the CRPH, the report said. 

It added that a group formed by Wai Moe Naing set off homemade explosives at several places in Monywa. The same group tortured and killed two police officers from the town, the report said. 

Wai Moe Naing’s mother, Moe Sandar Kyu, told Myanmar Now that she demands a public hearing for her son.

“It needs to be examined at a public court transparently. He should be given access to lawyers and in-person meetings with them too,” she said. “Since he is inside, he should be allowed medical check-ups to know if he suffered any damage.”

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. 

Thursday’s report said Wai Moe Naing was a “riot leader”. It made the same accusation against 23 other people from the Monywa People’s Strike Steering Committee and the Monywa People’s Administrative Body, including leaders of Monywa’s resistance force.

“Related 23 suspects involved in the riots will be prosecuted and arrested,” the junta’s announcement said. 

Wai Moe Niang’s next hearing is scheduled for May 7, according to his lawyer Moe Zaw Htun. He declined to comment on the new allegations.

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