Two lawyers arrested in Myawaddy on charges of incitement

Two lawyers from Kayin State were arrested in the border town of Myawaddy on Thursday, in the latest case of legal defenders of political detainees being targeted by the regime.

Nilar and Hpone Myat Thu were near the gate to the border crossing to Thailand when they were arrested and charged with incitement under Section 505a of the Penal Code, according to family members.

“At the moment, all we know is that they’ve been charged under 505a, but we don’t know the details,” said a relative of Nilar who spoke to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.

The two had been involved in defending a number of political prisoners, including Kayin State’s ousted chief minister Nan Khin Htwe Myint and Cho Yu Mon, the principal of Hpa-An Technical High School, who was arrested days after the February 1 coup for taking part in anti-regime protests.

They appeared in court a day after their arrest and are currently being held at Myawaddy’s central police station. Their next hearing is scheduled for June 25.

Since late May, the junta has arrested at least three lawyers providing legal defence for protesters and others detained since the coup.

On May 24, it arrested Thein Hlaing Tun, a lawyer for ousted Naypyitaw mayor Myo Aung.

He was taken into custody following a special hearing for Myo Aung and two other deposed political leaders—President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Three days later, Ayeyar Lin Htut, a lawyer from Hinthada District in Ayewarwaddy Region who has helping people facing political charges, was arrested and charged with incitement.

Thet Htun Oo, a lawyer from Kachin State, was arrested while in court on June 2.

Other lawyers say that they have also faced pressure from the regime for offering legal counsel to those arrested for a variety of political offences.

“Even if you’re just providing legal assistance, they will jail you if the case is political,” said one lawyer who has defended several detained protesters.

“There is no rule of law here. It’s just ego. They are doing this to strengthen their dictatorship, to remove any threat to them or their hold on power,” he added.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, as of June 12, only 178 of the 4,848 people arrested since the coup have been tried and sentenced.

Soon after seizing power, the regime increased the maximum sentence for incitement from two years’ imprisonment to three.


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