(Dr Nyo Nyo Thin, founder of Yangon Watch/ Photo - DVB Law Lab)

Sittwe district court ordered a 20-year imprisonment for Dr Aye Maung and author Wai Hun Aung for incitement and high treason. The long-term incarceration sentences for giving a speech at a public event has produced widespread public criticism levelled at authorities. Thet Naing, reporter for the DMG, conducted an interview with Dr Nyo Nyo Thin, founder of Yangon Watch, about her opinion on the recent verdict.

Q: What is your opinion about the recent verdict on Dr Aye Maung and Wai Hin Aung?

A:  The verdict is made by the judiciary sector but they were charged by the administrative sector. Dr Aye Maung is a member of parliament, so he can be charged when a speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw approved.

So, he was charged only when the speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw agreed. You all know who the speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw is. What I want to say is that Dr Aye Maung is a politician, and what he said in his speech is political in nature. So, it is just political dissent.

So, it should be solved by a productive political approach. Since he is an MP, the problem can be solved by discussing matters with leaders; military leaders or top leaders from the cabinet.

But the government brought a lawsuit to solve the administrative approach. It is the first fault of the government. Now, the resentment of Arakanese against the government has been growing.  And, if we look to Rakhine State, it is a battle field now. And, the relationship between Arakanese and Bamar people is not good now.

Bamar leaders especially need to think what they should do before they charge or impose a sentence against a Rakhine ethnic. In politics, those who are more powerful must show their forgiveness and patience. Otherwise, the country can never become a peaceful country.

Circumstances based on different political opinions leads to indictment, then imposed punishment. That hampers the government’s journey towards a peaceful country. Thus, the President should immediately reconsider the case.

Q:  What do you think about the verdict for giving speeches at literary talk while the government steps toward democratic goals?

A: A speaker has a freedom of expression to air their opinion in a public event. The event was held in Rakhine State for Arakanese. And, Dr Aye Maung is a Rakhine politician respected by Arakanese.

So, he used a certain kind language and phrases that is to the Arakaneses’ liking. At the same time, it should not be construed as offence language directed at others. So, freedom of expression should be given, especially to politicians. Otherwise, people will raise questions about the democratic process in our country. And, it will be recorded in Myanmar’s history.

Q:  What impact can be resulted when the long-term imprisonment was imposed amid instability in Rakhine State?

A: The verdict has created intense bitterness among Arakanese people. It might escalate their hatred. I’d like authorities, especially the President, to immediately do something for Arakanese people in order to win over their hearts and minds.

Q: Can the verdict result a possibility of tensions between Arakanese and the NLD government?

A: Imposing the verdict amid armed conflicts between the Tatmadaw and AA is an inconvenience for both the government and the local political party, it’s not a wise decision to make this verdict in the Arakanese region. It is not a decision that fully supports the rule of law. It is a decision that affect the interest of ethnic people and the country in the long run.

Q:  We must say the current situation in Rakhine State has also created an upsurge of patriotism. What kind of result can be seen from the deep nationalism because of the recent verdict?

A: The rancor of Arakanese against the Bamar, especially top seniors, has intensified because of the recent verdict. So, it is incumbent upon the high courts to reconsider this decision.

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