Prominent Sittwe leaders sentenced to prison

Photo by Coral Arakan Facebook

( Sittwe, 15 October 2013): Two prominent community leaders from Sittwe, the capital city of Arakan Sate in western Burma, have been sentenced to three months of imprisonment by the local court.

The Sittwe township court gave the verdict to Daw Ma Nyo Aye  and Ko Kyaw Zaw Oo on Tuesday, informed Ko Tun Hlaing, a colleague of the convicted leaders.

The judge Daw Hla Myat Mon passed the verdict under the Act 18 relating to the cases of processions without authority’s permission.

Soon after the verdict, both the convicted leaders were sent to the Sittwe prison.

The two community leaders declared that they would not submit any petition in the higher court about the verdict. They even did not hire any lawyer to advocate for them in the court, alleging that the authority was chasing them in an unfair manner.

Mentionable is that a protest demonstration was organized in Sittwe on March 7 last to raise voices against the government’s plan to build the permanent houses for Muslim internally displaced people after the violence that broke out in June 2012.

Nearly 3000 residents of Sittwe joined in the demonstration demanding the authority to scrutinize the citizenship of the beneficiaries whether they were genuine residents of Burma in accordance with the 1982 citizenship law before offering them the permanent shelters.

The local community leaders including Daw Ma Nyo Aye  and Ko Kyaw Zaw Oo applied for the permission from the police department and also the Rakhine (Arakan) State government to stage the protest demonstration, but the authorities denied the permission citing any reason.

The police had accused Daw Ma Nyo Aye  and Ko Kyaw Zaw Oo of leading the protest rally without the permission from the government authorities. Afterward, the police sued them in Sittwe township court for their involvement in the protest.

One of the convicts, Ma Nyo Aye is a prominent social activist and she is the president of Arakanese women network. Earlier she led a protest rally in Sittwe against Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur  on the human rights, during his last visit to Arakan.

Nearly 21 Arakanese community leaders have been sentenced to three months of imprisonment for each convict by the authority  for their role in protest demonstrations on various issues without authority’s prior permission since U Thein Sein led government came to power in Burma.