Yangon student activist sentenced to another 10 years by Myanmar prison court

By RFA Burmese

UPDATED AT 01:30 a.m. ET on 2023-05-02

A court at Yangon’s Insein Prison has sentenced student activist Banyar Soe Htet to an additional 10 years in prison, meaning he is set to serve a total of 84 years, an official at his pro-democracy organization said Monday.

Friday’s terrorism charge was made under Article 50 (j) of the Counter-Terrorism Act, which relates to funding terrorism.

It comes on top of two murder charges related to the killing of Thein Aung, general manager at junta-owned telecommunications company Mytel, along with the shooting of a grocery store owner and his wife in Yangon’s Hlaing township, said an official from the Yangon Revolution Force, who declined to be named for security reasons.

Friday's trial was held in secret in the prison court so his plea and any defense statement are not known.

The 26-year-old was arrested last November and has been held in Insein Prison ever since, his family barred from visiting, according to a friend who didn't want to be named for fear of reprisals.

The friend told RFA Banyar Soe Htet has legal representation but the lawyer was not allowed to meet his client ahead of the trial and has been banned from talking to the media.

His family has not decided whether to appeal the court's decision, the friend said.

Banyar Soe Htet was a physics major at Yangon Eastern University when the military seized power in a Feb. 1, 2021 coup and soon became active in the anti-regime Yangon Revolution Force.

The YRF, mainly composed of students and other young activists, targets junta-related groups and buildings in the country's business capital.

The official who informed RFA about the latest sentence said young educated people are being sentenced to prison terms that are even longer than their lives because the junta is manipulating the law to silence dissent.

“The law is in their hands, so they are making arbitrary orders according to their wishes,” the official said.

“Our imprisoned comrades say they are continuing to fight. Our anti-dictatorship actions will not stop because of this unjust sentence.”

More than 21,600 anti-junta activists have been arrested nationwide since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Some 17,726 of them are still being held in prisons across the country.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.

Updated to include more details of the terrorism charge.