Thursday, 14 November 2019

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Court charges four women activists

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Four women activists, who were arrested on October 3 for offering alms to Buddhist monks, had been charged by a district court on Monday under section 505(b) of the Penal Code (disturbing public tranquillity).

The activists including popular woman activist Naw Ohn Hla were arrested on October 3, for offering alms to monks at the Magwe monastery in Dagon satellite township of Rangoon, on the eve of Thadingyut festival.

The four are being tried at a special tribunal held inside Rangoon’s notorious Insein prison presided by the judge of the Rangoon east district court.

“the court framed charges against Naw Ohn Hla for offering 42 leaves of Buddhist scriptures (Kammawa) to the abbot of Magwe monastery with the intention of inciting public unrest,” Kyaw Hoe, the defence lawyer of the activists told Mizzima.

Kyaw Hoe said, the other three were charged under section 505(b) of the Penal Code as these Buddhist scriptures were not found in their possession.

Disagreeing with the court’s charges Kyaw Hoe said, “There is no sufficient ground to presume that the accused had committed the said offence because the abbot U Permaukha did not appear before the court as a prosecution witness.”

He added that this ‘Kammawa’ is a Buddhist scripture preached by Lord Buddha and offering this Buddhist scripture does not tantamount to violation of law.

“I don’t think we can presume that the accused had committed the crime,” he added.

The four activists - Naw Ohn Hla of Hmawbi Township, Myint Myint San of Dallha Township, Cho Cho Lwin of Thingangyun Township and Ma Cho of South Dagon Township – had regularly prayed every Tuesday at the popular shrine Shwedagon Pagoda for the release of pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The four, following their arrest, were reportedly taken to interrogation centre and later transferred to Insein prison.

The judge Aung Thein fixed the next hearing of the case for December 7.

On October 3, when the Buddhist celebrated Thadingyut full moon festival, clandestine monk organizations in Burma, called on all monks to boycott and ex-communicate the junta and its military officials, which is the highest means of protests by Buddhist monks against the government or rulers.

The monks group, in a statement, called all fellow monks in Burma to boycott the junta and ex-communicate them, unless they release all detained monks.

Buddhist Monks in Burma in September 2007 took a proactive role in calling on the military regime to implement changes by marching the streets and chanting ‘Metta-Sutta’, the Buddhist words on ‘Loving Kindness’. But the junta responded with a brutal crackdown, arresting and detaining hundreds of monks.


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