PEN International is gravely concerned by the Myanmar military junta’s decision to bring writer, activist and PEN Myanmar member, Wai Moe Naing, to trial on a charge of high treason. Already serving 10-year prison sentence, he now faces the death penalty if convicted. His next trial date is due to take place on 29 September 2022. He is unable to defend himself according to international fair trial norms. PEN International calls for his immediate and unconditional release, and for all charges against him to be dropped.
TAKE ACTION: Please send appeals to your country’s diplomatic service responsible for engagement with Myanmar:
- Urging for Wai Moe Naing’s case to be immediately raised as an issue of grave concern through bilateral communication with representatives of the military junta;
- Calling for Wai Moe Naing’s case to be immediately raised at international fora, including at the United Nations and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); and
- Requesting that your government’s diplomatic representatives publicly call for the release of all those arbitrarily detained for their peaceful expression in Myanmar.
Appeals directed to your country’s diplomatic service can be sent to:
Please consult your country’s diplomatic service for updated info on diplomatic missions or administrative united responsible for Myanmar.
TAKE ACTION: Please also send appeals directly to the military junta:
- Calling for Wai Moe Naing’s immediate and unconditional release;
- Urging for the dropping of all charges made against him under the Myanmar Penal Code and other legislation;
- Providing Wai Moe Naing with immediate and unimpeded access to independent legal representation and his family; and
- Calling for an end to the crackdown on all those engaged in peaceful expression in Myanmar.
Appeals directed to the military junta can be sent to:
Dr Thida Oo,
Role: Attorney General of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Address: Building 25, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
Telephone: +95 067 404054
Fax: + 95 67 404106
** Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 30 October 2022 **
Please inform PEN International of any action you take and any responses you receive. Messages can be sent to Ross Holder, Asia/ Pacific Programme Coordinator: Ross.Holder@pen-international.org
PEN members are encouraged to:
- Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Wai Moe Naing and freedom of expression in Myanmar;
- Share information about Wai Moe Naing and your campaigning activities via social media calling for the quashing of charges against him and for his immediate, unconditional release.
** Please keep PEN International informed of any action you take in regard to Wai Moe Naing’s case, including any responses you receive from the authorities **
Wai Moe Naing is a writer, activist, and member of PEN Myanmar. He began writing as a student, with his first short story being published in Teen Magazine at the age of 13. His writing has since been published in several literary outlets, including Khit Yanantthit Magazine and Pae Tin Tharn Journal. In the immediate aftermath of the military coup, Wai Moe Naing rose to prominence as a leader of the anti-coup protest movement and was among those who popularised the idea of banging pots and pans as a non-violent act of resistance to the military junta’s rule.
Wai Moe Naing was arrested on 15 April 2021 by junta forces after they reportedly used an unmarked vehicle to ram Wai Moe Naing while he was driving on a moped as part of a protest rally in the Monywa region. When he tried to escape on foot, a group of armed men disembarked and attacked him and a female protestor before detaining them both.
As reported previously, on 12 August 2022, Wai Moe Naing was found guilty multiple counts of incitement under section 505(A) of the Penal Code, which has been routinely used by the military junta to target critics of the regime. Following the conviction, Wai Moe Naing was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment. According to reports, Wai Moe Naing did not appeal the court’s ruling, stating that the allegations were not committed by him, so there was nothing to appeal. Several other charges, including murder, are remaining. The charges are reported to relate to the killings of two police officers in the Monywa region, but no evidence has emerged that links Wai Moe Naing to the crime. Wai Moe Naing’s friends and family have rejected the accusation of murder on the strongest possible terms.
On 26 August 2022, the military junta added the charge of high treason (Art. 122 of Myanmar’s Penal Code) against Wai Moe Naing for his role as a protest leader and for his alleged affiliation with the outlawed Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), which comprises of law makers from the ousted NLD government who have since formed a government-in-exile. If convicted of this politically motivated charge, Wai Moe Naing faces life in prison or a potential death sentence. His next trial date is due to take place on 29 September.
As reported previously, two of Wai Moe Naing’s legal representatives have been arrested, with others now unwilling to represent him out of fear of retaliation from the military junta, raising significant concerns over Wai Moe Naing’s ability to defend himself according to international fair trial norms. During his most recent hearing on 22 September, Wai Moe Naing was forced to represent himself.
In July, the military junta carried out the first judicial executions to have taken place in Myanmar in decades, resulting in the abhorrent killing of writer and pro-democracy activist, Kyaw Min Yu, and three others following similarly unjust and politically motivated trials. The military junta’s resumption of the use of capital punishment against anti-coup activists gravely imperils the lives of those currently detained for their peaceful opposition to military rule.
For more information about PEN International’s work on Myanmar and the state of freedom of expression in the country, please click here. Wai Moe Naing notably featured in PEN International’s 2021 Case List.
For further information please contact Ross Holder, Asia Programme Coordinator at PEN International, Unit A, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, email: firstname.lastname@example.org