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A Myanmar court denied bail for the second time to human rights activist Khaing Myo Htun on Friday. EarthRights International (ERI) condemns that decision and calls for his charges to be dropped.

“Khaing Myo Htun is suffering from health problems, as a letter from his doctor which was submitted to the judge states. We are deeply disappointed by the decision, because of which Khaing Myo Htun’s health will continue to deteriorate,” said Ka Hsaw Wa, Executive Director at ERI.

Khaing Myo Htun, a member of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), prominent environmental activist, and former student at the EarthRights School for human rights and environmental activists, was arrested on 25 July and faces charges of sedition and incitement under Myanmar’s Penal Code.

A complaint was filed by a Myanmar army general after the ALP released an official statement implicating the army in crimes against humanity and forced portering of civilians in Rakhine State. Khaing Myo Htun’s name was not on the statement, indicating that the charges he faces are politically motivated due to his work in human rights and environmental activism.

ERI has reviewed the evidence supporting the allegations against the Myanmar army and has deemed them credible. Under Section 505(b) and (c), a crime has not been committed if there are reasonable grounds for believing the truth of the statement, and a lack of intent to induce the commission of offenses against the state. These provisions have frequently been used to silence human rights defenders. 

“This is yet another attempt to silence human rights advocacy and deter activists from exposing ongoing violations in Myanmar,” said Ka Hsaw Wa.  “We cannot revert back to the tactics used when our country was under military rule with the National League for Democracy (NLD) in government.”

Khaing Myo Htun will be required to appear in court for the next hearing on January 27.