Monday, 18 November 2019

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Gold mine protesters refused bail, face additional charge

The four Moehti Moemi gold mine protesters who were charged with sedition have been refused bail and will face an additional charge, according to family members at Tuesday’s trial in Taungoo.

The Moehti Moemi gold mine area  Photo: Mizzima
The Moehti Moemi gold mine area  Photo: Mizzima 
Ei Mon Kyaw, the wife of detained protestor Ye Yint Kyaw, told Mizzima: “They [the four defendants] applied for bail, but the judge said that a person who has been charged under Section 505 (b) cannot be granted bail. In fact, the Myohla Police Station has filed an additional charge against them.”

Yedashe Township Court, which is in Taungoo District, Pegu Region, charged the four protesters with “inciting other people to commit acts against the public tranquility” [Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code] on November 30.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the protestors were hit with an additional charge—Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law—for protesting without permission. The additional charge was brought by Myohla Police Station in Yedashe Township.

Lawyer Kyi Soe from Taungoo is defending the detained gold mine protesters, according to Moe Gyi, a fellow miner who attended Tuesday’s hearing.

“The lawyer said that the defendants were not inciting other people to commit acts against public tranquility,” said Moe Gyi. “They would have no reason to do so. It is simply an issue between the workers and the employer.”

The four gold mine protestors—Ye Yint Tun, Naing Win, Nay Aung Htet and Saw Naung—have been detained in Taungoo. The next hearing will be held on December 6, according to Moe Gyi.  

If the court decides against them, they could be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison for violating Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, and sentenced to two years for violating Section 505 (b) of the Burmese Penal Code.  

On November 23, some 76 gold mine protesters—69 men and 7 women—marched toward Naypyitaw after several months of demonstrations against a decision by the Ministry of Mines to close the Moehti Moemi gold mine.

They were met by police at Yayni Paper Mill Junction in Taungoo District where the leaders of the protest were arrested and allegedly beaten.

Subsequent negotiations between authorities and miners proved fruitless, and the mining company itself said it would not allow the 76 gold miners who took part in the protest to work at the Moehti Moemi mine again.

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