Paing Takhon: Myanmar celebrity jailed for three years for taking part in mass anti-military coup protests

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  • Paing Takhon
    Burmese model, actor and singer
File: Paing Takhon holds a sign during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon (AFP via Getty Images)
File: Paing Takhon holds a sign during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon (AFP via Getty Images)

A prominent celebrity actor and model in Myanmar has been sentenced to three years in prison for taking part in mass protests against junta rule.

Paing Takhon, 25, has vocally condemned the military government on social media and also taken part in several mass protests.

Mr Takhon was arrested at his house in Yangon by around 50 soldiers who arrived in eight military trucks in April this year, according to his sister.

Khin Maung Myint, the actor’s legal adviser, told news agency AFP that he was “jailed for three years with hard labour.”

The verdict was delivered on the same day a prosecution witness was scheduled to speak on behalf of the plaintiff.

“The judge and the investigating police officer showed Paing Takhon photos that the police had submitted in the case file and asked him if he took part in those protests,” a member of the actor’s legal team told Myanmar-based independent news agency Myanmar Now.

“When he said that he did, they said that it was a confession and that they would be halting the case there and handed him the sentence,” the unnamed lawyer added.

The actor’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, that had over a million followers, were taken down by the military after his arrest in April.

Photos on social media showed the actor frequently taking part in protests demanding the restoration of democracy.

Writer Than Myint Aung, 67, was also sentenced to three years in prison for incitement on Monday.

The south Asian country is grappling with civil strife ever since the junta ousted the democratic government in a February coup after alleging fraud in an election that Aung San Suu Kyi’s party had won.

Independent observers had insisted that the ballot was fair.

Soon after the coup, the junta published a list of some 120 celebrities wanted for arrest.

Civilians have been taking up arms against the junta and its alleged attempts at stifling democracy marked by widespread violence, sparking an international outcry.

Security forces have quashed nonviolent nationwide demonstrations with force, killing almost 1,400 civilians, according to the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The National Unity Government, a broad alliance of anti-coup organisations that include members of Ms Suu Kyi’s ousted ruling party, has backed the training and formation of militias called the People’s Defence Forces and has declared a nationwide rebellion against military rule.

Last week during Christmas, the junta allegedly killed at least 35 people, including women and children in the eastern state of Kayah.

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