Protestor shot in leg during arrest gets three months in jail

An activist who was shot in the leg by police after he resisted the construction of a cement factory in his village in Mandalay region has been sentenced to three months in prison with hard labour. 

Shwe Ohn, 60, was charged with nine offences after his violent arrest in March, when police surrounded his home in Aung Tha Pyay village and opened fire after claiming they were pelted with rocks.

A judge at the Pathein Gyi township court on Thursday gave Shwe Ohn the maximum sentence under a section of the Peaceful Assembly Law, which critics say has been used as a tool to silence dissent. 

Villagers from Aung Tha Pyay brawled with police in May last year before smashing windows and setting fire to vehicles and buildings at the construction site of the Alpha Cement Factory. 

The company pressed charges and police issued arrest warrants for more than 30 villagers, including Shwe Ohn, who went into hiding for several months before returning to his home. 

He was charged with nine offences including rioting, grievously hurting a public servant and arson. 

“There was a previous order for evading arrest. Then two more charges were added for resisting arrest… too many charges,” said Myint San, Patheingyi township court’s information officer.

Shwe Ohn still needs to face the rest of the charges. His next court hearing is scheduled Tuesday next week, the court official said. 

The coal-powered factory project is run by the Yangon-based Myint Investment Group. Villagers say the land for the factory was stolen from them and they want compensation.

Several were injured during last year’s brawl when police fired rubber bullets. One man who they arrested died in custody.

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