Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Protester Ko Htin Kyaw jailed for 12 ½ years

by Than Htike Oo
Mizzima News
17 November 2008

Chiang Mai – Ko Htin Kyaw, a protester who led demonstrations against rising essential commodity prices last year was sentenced to 12 and-a-half years in jail on Monday by a court in session in Insein prison.

Ko Htin Kyaw, hailing from North Okkalapa Rangoon, was arrested after he staged protests against rising essential commodity prices burdening common people in August 2007.

The judge U Kyaw Sein did not allow the accused to defend himself. The verdict against Ko Htin Kyaw was under charges, namely extortion, insulting Buddhist religion, joining unlawful assembly and inducing crime against public tranquility.

"Previously he was produced before a special court inside Insein prison. He refused to appear before the court as he had no faith in it. Finally, he was produced before the court sitting in session in the main gate of the prison. He was sentenced by this court," a person close to the judicial department told Mizzima.

The junta suddenly and drastically raised the price of fuel in August 2007 and as a consequence, essential commodity prices shot up. Ko Htin Kyaw staged protests against fuel price and essential commodity price rise at 'Theingyi' market in Rangoon. He was arrested for protesting.

Similarly the Insein court and Tamwe Township courts sentenced other protesters to imprisonment today.

Rangoon West District Special Court sitting in session inside Insein prison sentenced Kyi Phyu Maung (North Dagon Township), Ko Zin Lin Aung, Human Right Defender and Promoters Network (HRDP) member Ko Myo Thant a.k.a. John Norton (Hlaing Township), National League for Democracy (NLD) party members Ko Ye Min Oo, Ko Ye Myat Hein and Ko Thein Swe (Pyapon) to six and-a-half years in prison each for inducing crime against public tranquility.

Moreover Ko Sithu Maung and Ko Ye Myat Hein were sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison respectively by Tamwe court for founding an unlawful association and inducing crime against public tranquility.

"Handing out long prison terms to political activists is contrary to their claim of 'marching towards a modern and developed new country'. I feel instead of marching towards a modern and developed country, our country is going backwards to the age in the reign of King Kyansitha and King Anawratha (c 12th century AD), " Daw San Aye, mother of Ko Ye Myat Hein, said.

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