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Student activist sentenced to 15 years in prison in Myanmar’s Kayin State

UPDATED AT 5:52 AM ET ON 12-01-2022

A student leader who took part in anti-junta protests in Myanmar’s Magway region has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by a court in Kayin State.

Myawaddy District Court handed down his sentence, under Section 49(a) of the Counter-Terrorist Act, on Wednesday, a fellow activist told RFA on condition of anonymity.

Kaung Set Naing was the student leader of Magway city’s Medical University when the military seized power on Feb. 1, 2021.

The 23–year-old went undercover after a junta crackdown on protests, according to his friends. He was arrested on Dec. 6, 2021 at a military checkpoint between Kayin State’s Myawaddy township and Lay Kay Kaw new town.

One friend told RFA he was tortured for a week in a military camp before being sent to the local prison.

“He was arrested and tortured in the interrogation, that’s all we knew. We heard he was still in Myawaddy prison for about a year,” said the friend, who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons.

“He was sentenced to 15 years on allegations of supporting the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw [the former parliament], the National Unity Government and People’s Defense Forces.”

Kaung Set Naing’s family recently traveled from Magway to Myawaddy to request his transfer to a prison closer to home, according to his friends. He has had no contact with them since his arrest.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), a total of 16,472 people were arrested nationwide in the 22 months since the coup, of which 13,002 are still being held in prison.

This story has been updated to clarify place names.

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