Mandalay region minister charged with incitement for proclaiming anti-coup ‘holiday’

Mandalay region’s ousted minister for natural resources and environmental conservation was charged with incitement on Wednesday for proclaiming every day a holiday until the government elected last year is allowed to assume power.

Myo Thit, who like other ministers was forced out of office when the military staged a coup on February 1, was charged under section 505b of the Penal Code at Chan Aye Thar Zan township court in Mandalay, according to his lawyer, Moe Swe.

The deputy administrator from the General Administration Department of Chan Aye Thar Zan township opened the case against the minister, he added.

The first hearing in the case will be held on Thursday.

“Tomorrow, the court will be hearing from the plaintiff. [Myo Thit] will also need to have a medical check-up as part of our application for his release on bail, as he is not healthy,” the minister’s lawyer said, adding that his client suffers from a bone-related condition.

Section 505b of the Penal Code makes it illegal to issue “any statement, rumour or report” likely to induce members of the public to “commit an offence against the state”. It is punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine, or both.

Since seizing power, the newly installed military junta has issued a number of amendments to the Penal Code and other colonial-era laws, broadening the definition of crimes against the state.

The move appears to be aimed at suppressing a growing civil disobedience movement spearheaded by public employees and supported by elected officials.

number of other government ministers have also signed bills proclaiming an indefinite period of public holidays, in an effort to encourage civil servants to continue with their walkouts until the ruling junta gives up power.

On Tuesday, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Shan state’s minister for planning and finance, Soe Nyunt Lwin, who is also the spokesperson for the Shan state cabinet, under section 505b.

Warrants for incitement have also been issued against 17 lawmakers who formed the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, a parallel government that aims to deny legitimacy to the new regime.

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