Karenni State Govt Prosecutes Six Youth Activists

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The charges date back to a youth statement that described members of the state government as ‘enemies of ethnic solidarity.’

By KANTARAWADDY TIMES

A representative of the Karenni State government has opened a case against six Karenni youth under the State Protection Law, according to police in Loikaw.

The law can be used to punish anyone who is deemed as having “endanger(ed) the sovereignty or security of the state or public peace and tranquility.”

Police officer Zaw Moe Oo told Kantarawaddy Times that Karenni State government office deputy director U Thet Naung filed for charges at the Loikaw Myoma police station against Ko Sitt Mone—also known as Deede—Myo Hlaing Win, Jhon Paul, Khu Reedu, Khu Kyu Phe Kay and Khun Thomas.

“We have to follow the law. [The youth] are now defendants because the plaintiff has tried to sue them,” a Loikaw police commander said. “We will have to ask questions before we send this case to court.”

The suit dates back to a statement that youth released on March 25, which described members of the state government as “political criminals, traitors of the Karenni nation, enemies of ethnic solidarity and ungrateful people.” At the time, the youth were protesting a statue of Gen Aung San in a public park which was erected—and has since been protected—by the state government, specifically chief minister El Phoung Sho.

“They haven’t summoned us. We are ready to face this case because it’s our national cause, as well as conserving our history,” Ko Sitt Mone (aka Deede) told Kantarawaddy Times.

According to representatives at the police station, the youth will be summoned soon.

Karenni State parliamentarian Thae Reh said that the youth have a right to speak their minds and should not be facing charges.

“Regarding the statue, the youth are not satisfied with actions of chief minister and his colleagues. The youth have their rights, just as the chief minister and his colleagues have their rights,” Thae Reh said. “In my opinion, they should not prosecute these youths. Legal experts will understand more about it.”

In the statement published on March 25 Karenni youth accused the Kayah State chief minister and the finance minister, Maw Maw, of using their executive and financial power to form a committee to build a divisive statue of Gen Aung San.

U Nyi Nyi Min, who is the secretary of the Karenni State government office, as a representative of chief prime minister directed deputy director U Thet Naung for suing these 6 Karenni youths.

Kantarawaddy Times repeatedly called U Nyi Nyi Min, who is secretary of the Karenni State government office, for comment on whether he was involved in deputy director U Thet Naung’s move to file charges against the activists, but he didn’t answer the phone.

If the youth are found guilty, they face from six months to three years in prison and a fine of 600,000-1,500,000 kyat (US$390-$977).

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