Karen State Protesters Released but Charged with Violating Penal Code Section 144, now Face Trial

A lawyer confirmed five-out-of-ten protestors arrested yesterday in Hpa-an, Karen State have been charged under Section 144 of the Penal Code and will face trial.

A lawyer representing the group said of the 10 people arrested yesterday by Hpa-an police, five were underage and released without charge after they confessed. The other five were also released, but accused of violating Section 144 and will now have to stand the trial in local court.

The lawyer, Khun Win Kyine explained.

“Seven were charged at the court today, two were minors and therefore released. The rest were adults and will be subject to a criminal trial. They have been released on bail. The police pressed charges against them because they violated the orders placed by the township administrator.”

The lawyer said relatives of 14 individuals had reported a family member arrested, but only 10 have been identified and further investigations into the other four must be carried out.

One of the arrested told Karen News he was forcefully loaded into a car when he was waiting to join the protest at the front of No.1 High School around 7 am. He was taken to Hpa-an’s Taungkalay Prison before being taken to court and charged under Section 144 of the Penal Code.

“Me and my friend were taken by force. They took our phones, they checked all our bags. They said that they don’t want to do it, they are doing it because it is their duty.”

The majority of those arrested in Hpa-an yesterday were women and young people and all were arrested at the protest site. Civil servants from the Department of Education and the members of the public gathered in front of Hpa-an police headquarters until their demands for the release of the protesters were met.

Arrests of people protesting against the military coup has now intensified with civil servants and activist the main targets.

Election Commission members in several townships in Karen State were targeted and arrested to join others in other states. In Karen State, By midday today, February 12th, at least eight Election Commission members had been detained by the army and taken directly to military posts.

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