Junta issues arrest warrants for Min Ko Naing and other prominent activists

Seven well-known activists, including Min Ko Naing and other leaders of the four-eights pro-democracy uprising of 1988, have been charged with inciting unrest against the state.

In a statement released late Saturday, Myanmar’s newly installed military junta said that it had issued arrest warrants for the wanted activists and urged members of the public to report them to the authorities.

According to the statement, former 88 generation student leaders Min Ko Naing and Jimmy, singer Lin Lin, writer Insein Aung Soe, think tank director Myo Yan Naung Thein, and social media influencers Maung Maung Aye and Ei Pan Sel Lo have all been charged with incitement against the state under section 505b of the penal code.

The statement accused them of “using their popularity to incite the people with their writing and speeches through social media and social networks to destroy the state’s law and order.”  

Aung Myo Min, the director of the rights group Equality Myanmar, said that the statement shows the regime’s total disregard for freedom of expression.

“We cannot accept this way of denying all expressions of dissent,” he said, noting that the accused had all spoken out against last week’s coup. 

The military arrested State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leading members of the civilian government in predawn raids on February 1, just hours before parliament was set to convene for the first time since last year’s election.

Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won the November 8 election in a landslide, but the military alleged that it had found widespread voting irregularities.

In the weeks before the coup, it accused the government and the Union Election Commission of failing to resolve these issues.

The military takeover has sparked mass protests and a civil disobedience movement by public service workers. In recent days, the regime has carried out a series of late-night raids targeting resistance leaders.

Poet Maung Saung Kha, the executive director of the Yangon-based free-speech advocacy group Athan, condemned the military’s statement and warned that worse was yet to come.

“The military coup-makers will use all means available to them to arrest and imprison anyone who tries to oppose them. There is no chance to enjoy human rights under a military dictatorship. I think worse rights violations will come,” he said.

According to figures compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 326 people were arrested in the first 12 days of the coup, including 23 who have since been released.

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