An additional charge has been levied against a Kachin man in relation to a Hpakant prayer service marking the sixth anniversary of the renewed Kachin conflict on June 9, while the event’s two lead organizers were convicted and fined this week.
Lamawng La Tawng, chair of the Hpakant Kachin People Association, and Lating Sau Bawm, the group’s vice chair, were charged under section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Law and were convicted by the Hpakant Township Court at their third court hearing on July 18. They were ordered to each pay a K30,000 fine.
The two organizers expressed confusion over their charges, as they had asked permission for staging the prayer service, which was held indoors at the local chapter of the Kachin Baptist Church, according to the Irrawaddy.
Dashi Naw Lawn, secretary of the Hpakant Kachin People Association, has been charged with defamation for distributing leaflets at the event. His third court hearing is scheduled for July 28.
“In the leaflet, we wrote about the Tatmadaw’s rape and murder of Daw Sumlut Roi Ja, the destruction of houses, churches and monasteries in Nam San Yang by the Tatmadaw and the number of Kachin women killed by them. They filed the charges because they didn’t like what has been written,” said Dashi Naw Lawn.
Although the leaflet was also distributed in Myitkyina at the same time, no defamation charges have been filed against the distributor there.
However, Myitkyina Township Court did fine leaders of the Kachin National Consultative Assembly (KNCA), also known as WMR, including chair Duwa Hkun Seng, secretary Labang Gam Awng, and Myitkyina People Association in-charge Zaw Jat.
They were also ordered to each pay a K30,000 fine for violating Section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Law during a similar commemorative prayer event in Myitkyina.
The 17-year-old ceasefire between the Kachin Independence Army and the Tatmadaw collapsed in 2011, sparking renewed clashes that have escalated over the past year. Thousands of villagers remain in temporary displacement shelters throughout Kachin State, and recent fighting in Tanai township has led to fresh waves of civilian evacuations.