Thursday, 17 July 2008

'Free Daw Suu' campaigners charged with instigating public unrest


Chiang Mai (Mizzima)- Fourteen members of Burma's opposition party – National League for Democracy – who were arrested for protesting on their leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday on Wednesday were charged with disturbing public tranquility.

The NLD members, who had been in custody for about a month, were produced on Wednesday in Bahan Township Court in Rangoon, where charges against them were pressed by Bahan Township Station House Officer SIP Khai Win Aung under Criminal Code section 505(b), inducing people to break public tranquility and under section 143, unlawful assembly.

"The prosecutor charged them with unlawful assembly in front of the NLD office and chanting slogans to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and holding aloft placards which amounted to undermining public tranquility," said lawyer Khin Maung Shein, who was present at the court on Wednesday.

May Nweh, wife of one of the accused, Chit Khin, who was present at the court, said "He [Chit Khin] just attended Daw Suu's birthday party without chanting any slogans, I feel very sad. He's old and suffers severe headaches. Moreover we are not allowed to send him food parcels. I have to come again next week and meet him."

Two of the accused - Tin Ohn and Soe Ohn from Shwepyithar Township - are currently being treated in hospital and could not be present at the court hearing today.

On June 19, the NLD youth members marched to the residence of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently under house arrest in University Avenue, as a commemoration of her 63rd birthday.

Members of the Junta-backed civil organizations – Swan Arrshin and Union Solidarity and Development Association - arrested them from the street while they were chanting slogans – 'Free Aung Suu Kyi' and 'Long Live Aung San Suu Kyi'.

Khin Maung Shein said, "It is not a crime to demand for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. She has actually completed her house arrest term and is due to be freed. Demanding and shouting for her release is not instigating public unrest."

He added that the NLD members will defend charges against them and argue at the court proceedings in accordance with the law. The court has fixed July 25 for the next hearing.

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