The youth were were reportedly tortured during the interrogation process and sentenced to at least two years in prison
By Myanmar Now
Thirty-two youth who were arrested for opposing the military coup in March were sentenced to prison terms by the junta in a makeshift courtroom set up within a prison in Myeik on Tuesday.
The young activists were tortured during the interrogation process in the Tanintharyi Region town, according to another dissident who was arrested with them and among those released earlier.
Those recently sentenced included poet Maung Yu Py, who, like 29 others, was convicted of two violations of the Penal Code: Section 505a for incitement and Section 145 for unlawful assembly. The 30 people convicted of the two violations face two years in prison—reduced sentences of one year for each charge.
Two of those sentenced on Tuesday faced a third violation as well, of Section 286, for the illegal possession of fireworks. Nay Naing Win and Zaw Myo Naing, both 19 years old, were sentenced to a total of four years in prison, according to a lawyer.
“They said he had two fireworks, so he was given an additional two-year term for possessing weapons,” a relative of Zaw Myo Naing told Myanmar Now. “I heard that if those fireworks had exploded, they would have just emitted gas. And he didn’t even know how to make them explode. It’s not fair.”
A lawyer for the detained persons explained that on the morning of March 9, more than 70 young people—some 45 men and 25 women—were arrested on D Road in Myeik’s Kwet Thit quarter, near a protest site.
They ranged in age from 14 to 30 years old. The minors were released earlier and were not among those sentenced on Tuesday.
“During the trial, the people said in defence that they were at the site for different reasons. But when the judge delivered the verdict, he said that the reason for the young people being in the same place and at the same time must have been for the protest, and it could not have been any other kind of gathering, such as for business,” the lawyer told Myanmar Now.
During the March 9 crackdown, the junta’s armed forces chased people from the area, and shot a young woman in the neck with a rubber bullet before arresting her.
By 10am, those arrested were taken to an air force base near Myeik’s airport. They were made to kneel and were beaten with belts, sticks, metal pipes and chains, according to the released detainee who spoke to Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity.
“They said, ‘What is it you chant and sing in marches and protests? How many fingers do you hold up?’ and beat us up. Anyone with a tattoo of Amay Suu was treated even worse,” he said, referring to Aung San Suu Kyi, long regarded as the leader of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement.
“They said, ‘You called us military dogs. Well, military dogs bite.’ And they just kept beating us,” the man said.
Original Post: Myanmar Now