Myanmar junta sentences two MPs to 26 years in prison

Two lawmakers from Myanmar’s ousted ruling party were each handed 26-year prison sentences on Monday, nearly a year after their arrest in territory controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU).

Dr. Pyae Phyo Oo, 37, and Wai Lin Aung, 31, both received their sentences from the district court in Karen State’s Myawaddy Township, according to a source close to Wai Lin Aung.

Both men were facing a series of terror and treason charges for their resistance to the junta that overthrew the elected National League for Democracy (NLD) government in February 2021, the source said.

“The total actually would have added up to 46 years, but the sentences for some of the charges were combined,” said the source, who spoke to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.

Dr. Pyae Phyo Oo was the NLD’s representative for the townships of Einme and Wakema in Ayeyarwady Region’s Myaungmya District, while Wai Lin Aung was the NLD MP for Myaungmya Township.

They were both arrested last December in Lay Kay Kaw Myothit, a town in Myawaddy Township under the control of Brigade 6 of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), an armed wing of the KNU.

According to the source, they have been held at the district police station in Myawaddy since their arrest.

“We expected them to get long sentences. Since their arrests were unlawful to begin with, there was no way they would get fair trials,” said the source, adding that it was unclear which prison they would be transferred to now that they have been sentenced.

Around 20 others were arrested during last year’s raid on Lay Kay Kaw, including 12 members of a social welfare group who were each handed five-year sentences in June on charges of violating Myanmar’s Counter-Terrorism Law.

They and several public servants taking part in the Civil Disobedience Movement who were also detained at the same time are reportedly being held at Hpa-an Prison.

Lay Kay Kaw Myothit was established in 2015 with the support of Japan’s Nippon Foundation as part of the country’s peace process. It is administered by the KNU, with security provided by the KNLA.

On December 14 and 15 of last year, junta forces raided the town, resulting in clashes with the KNLA the following day. At least 18 regime soldiers were killed in the fighting, and more were captured as the conflict continued for several weeks.

Thousands of civilians living in the area were also displaced as the regime carried out airstrikes in retaliation for its losses.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the regime has arrested a total of 16,432 people since last year’s coup for opposing its rule, of whom 12,973 were still in detention as of November 25.

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