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Seven activists charged on eighth day of Myanmar protests against coup

Seven activists charged on eighth day of Myanmar protests against coup
Protesters hold placards at a rally Saturday against the military coup outside the U.S. embassy in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Nyein Chan Naing/EPA-EFE

Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Seven activists were issued arrest warrants on Saturday, the eighth day of Myanmar's protest against the military coup, over their social media posts.

The activists were charged under section 505 (b) of the Penal Code for allegedly defaming the state and threatening "public tranquility," in their social media posts, the National Administrative Council said in a statement, Anadolu Agency reported.

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Among those charged Saturday, were Min Ko Naing, whose name means Conqueror of Kings, and Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Jimmy, who both served time in prison after participating in the 1988 pro-democracy uprisings in the country, along with five other democracy activists and social influencers.

Naing has been described by The New York Times as the most influential person in Myanmar after the country's civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained along with other high-ranking elected government officials in a coup weeks ago.

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Naing and Yu went into hiding with the other five when the military overthrew the civilian government on Feb. 1, according to the Anadolu Agency report.

Naing urged people in the country to resist in all ways as the protests started three days after the coup.

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The five other activists charged include singer Linn Linn, who is a former bodyguard of detained leader Kyi; Insein Aung Soe; Myo Yan Naun Thein, the director of Bayda Institute for a Just Society; presenter Maung Maun Aye and Facebook cele Ei Pencilo, The Irrawaddy reported.

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Soe had communicated anti-military messages on social media, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said in a daily briefing.

The same charge the seven activists face, which carries a punishment of up to two years, has been used widely to stifle political dissent under previous military regimes, according to the Irrawaddy report.

Myanmar's eighth day of protest against the military coup Saturday featured a 10-minute moment of silence at some demonstrations and more unity across society, according to the AAPP daily briefing.

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"There was a 10-minute silence of respect for the day of independence hero General Aung San birth, father of currently-detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at some demonstrations," the daily briefing said.

"More and more sections of society are coming together, a number of demonstrations were hundreds of thousands in size around the country, peacefully fighting for democracy," the AAPP added.

In particular, six policemen and one traffic police from Loikaw and Demawso Township joined the protest Saturday, bringing the total number of policemen joining the Civil Disobediences Movement to 61, according to the briefing. A police force demanded two of the policemen who took part in a protest Saturday in Hpa-an Township, Kayin State, return, and people shielded the two policemen from backlash in response.

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Since the coup began, medical staff members have also joined the CDM, a strike campaign that rejects the rule of the military, Voice of America reported.

On Saturday, protesters in Yangon, held signs reading "Stop the kidnapping at night" in response to recent night raids, according to the Voice of America report.

The protests have continued despite a ban on gatherings of five or more people. There has also been a military-imposed curfew from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. in several towns in Myanmar.

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On Friday, the new military government released more than 23,000 prisoners, but Kyi and other politicians and activists remain in detention. The State Administrative Council ordered the release to to mark Union Day, a national holiday in Myanmar.

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