Student union federation vice president slapped with another incitement charge

Wai Yan Phyo Moe, the vice president of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), was charged with violating Section 505a of the Penal Code for incitement at the Mayangone Township court in Yangon this week, according to his lawyer.

Lawyer Thet Naung told Myanmar Now that they heard about new charges against Wai Yan Phyo Moe during his other hearings in the Kyauktada and Kamayut township courts on Tuesday.

“We haven’t seen him for a while as the offices and prisons have been closed. We only learnt briefly about this Section 505 charge during his court hearings at Kyauktada and Kamayut courts,” he said. 

The lawyer said he has not submitted a power of attorney document for the new charge, which would allow him to represent Wai Yan Phyo Moe at hearings in Mayangone.

Wai Yan Phyo Moe was already facing charges for the violation of Section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law in Kyauktada for allegedly breaking rules surrounding demonstrations, as well as for incitement in both Kyauktada and Kamayut. 

If convicted, each incitement charge carries a three-year prison sentence and the Section 19 charge is accompanied by a three-month sentence and/or a fine. 

Even before the February 1 military coup, many protesters were charged in different townships where they led or participated in demonstrations on the pretext that they allegedly broke the law by taking part in rallies without permission from authorities. 

Thet Naung said that Wai Yan Phyo Moe had been held in Insein Prison since his arrest in March.

He noted that his client was in good health but that he was concerned because Wai Yan Phyo Moe had initially been placed in a cell with violent offenders instead of other political prisoners.

“We’ve requested that the prison authorities move him and they agreed to, but they haven’t actually moved him yet. It’s been too long already,” Thet Naung explained. 

Wai Yan Phyo Moe was one of around 500 civilians arrested during a crackdown on the General Strike Committee’s protest column in Yangon’s Tamwe Township on March 3.

Seven detained student activists including Wai Yan Phyo Moe were placed in solitary confinement for one week after they refused to read the prison rules out loud on April 22, a punitive measure typically demanded of inmates by prison officials. They were later sent to the prison ward where those convicted of violent crimes are held, and have reportedly been asked for bribes, forced to do hard labour, and have received death threats. 

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