PEN International is outraged to learn of the assault and arbitrary arrest of PEN Myanmar member, Wai Moe Naing. We condemn the Myanmar military junta’s ongoing use of violence against Wai Moe Naing and other unarmed civilians and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those who have been detained for peacefully expressing their views.
On 15 April 2021, junta forces 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 from the vehicle and attacked him and a female protestor before detaining them both.
The attack is just the latest example of the violent tactics used by Myanmar’s military junta to brutally suppress the largely peaceful demonstrations that have taken place across Myanmar. Since the coup began on 1 February, over 730 people have been reportedly killed with many thousands more arrested for their peaceful expression.
Following the circulation of an image of Wai Moe Naing taken after his detention into military custody that indicates signs of torture, the Swedish embassy in Yangon has noted that they are closely monitoring his case and urged the military to provide adequate healthcare for all detainees. The US embassy in Yangon has also condemned the reported attack.
Wai Moe Naing’s first court hearing took place on 21 April with a second hearing due to take place on 23 April. He has been charged under Section 505(a) of Myanmar’s Penal Code which has been used against thousands of anti-coup protestors who have openly criticised the military. In an extremely concerning development, the military junta has also accused him of murder, an allegation robustly rejected by his mother. Wai Moe Naing now potentially faces the death penalty if convicted of all charges.
PEN International calls for the quashing of all trumped-up charges against Wai Moe Naing and for his immediate release so that he can receive adequate medical care. We condemn the military junta’s brutal suppression of unarmed protestors and we continue our call for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained by the military junta for their peaceful expression.
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