Students vow to continue anti-war protests as court increases activists’ sentences to six years

A court in Mandalay’s Amarapura township on Wednesday added a year to the sentences of two student protesters jailed for opposing the Tatmadaw’s war in Rakhine state.

Soe Hla Naing and Kyaw Thiha Ye Kyaw, both members of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), have now been given a total of six years in prison under various charges for distributing anti-war flyers and stickers. 

The two have been sentenced for violations of the Peaceful Assembly Law as well as laws aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 and a section of the penal code that punishes causing “fear or alarm” to incite crimes against “the State or against the public tranquility”.

Three different courts in Mandalay region have already handed them sentences for different offenses this month. Thirteen other members of the ABSFU have also been charged for taking part in the protests. 

“The people profiting from this internal conflict are oppressing the people who are against it, that’s how I see it,” said Aung Pyae Sone Phyo, first vice chair of the ABFSU.

The group would not be intimidated by the jailing of its members, he told Myanmar Now. “We’re not stopping our protests.”  

The union’s chair, Thet Maung Maung, is among the other 13, who have been charged under the Peaceful Assembly Law for a protest near the clock tower at Mandalay’s Zay Cho market. 

The group are now also being charged under 505b of the penal code.

The students began distributing leaflets and putting up posters last month with slogans including “Oppose murderous fascism” and “Dictatorships must fail”.

The protests continued into this month in Yangon, Mandalay, Monywa, Meiktila, Pakokku, Magwe, and Sittwe. 

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