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Myanmar celebrity gets three years in jail for mass protests

One of Myanmar’s most popular celebrities has been jailed for three years for taking part in mass protests that rocked Myanmar following a military coup last February.

Paing Takhon, a model and actor with millions of fans, took part in anti-coup protests and had also been vocal in condemning the government online.

Myanmar’s military seized power after claims of election fraud.

Since then, it has engaged in a brutal campaign of repression.

Takhon was arrested in April by around 50 soldiers who arrived in eight military trucks at 05:00 local time, according to a Facebook post by his sister.

His legal advisor Khin Maung Myint told AFP he had been sentenced to hard labour, adding that his family was considering whether to appeal.

‘We strongly condemn the coup’

The 24-year-old had previously been seen participating in several demonstrations and marches.

He had also posted images of ousted civilian leader and pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been sentenced to four years in prison for inciting dissent and breaking Covid-19 rules – the first of a series of verdicts that could see her jailed for life.

Paing Takhon holding up a sign
Image caption,Paing Takhon

“We strongly condemn military coup. We demand immediate release of state counseller [sic] Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, civilian government ministers and elected members of perliment [sic],” Mr Takhon is said to have written in an online post.

“We demand to respect 2020 election results and form new civillian [sic] government soonest by NLD led perliment [sic].”

His Instagram account with more than a million followers was taken down shortly after his arrest, along with his Facebook account. However, his Instagram account appears to have been revived by a fan account.

A close acquaintance of his, who did not wish to be named, had earlier told the BBC that Takhon had been suffering from depression and a physical condition when he was arrested, adding that he could not even “stand properly”.

However, they added that he had been “aware of the consequences” that awaited him, adding that he was “not scared at all”.

Both his mobile phones were taken along with him, they added.

Takhon is not the only celebrity that was arrested – a Myanmar beauty pageant winner who spoke out against the coup and a well-known comedian was also among those detained by authorities.

Myanmar’s military leaders seized power in February after suffering a massive election defeat at the hands of the ruling National League of Democracy.

It claimed it had no choice but to orchestrate the coup because of widespread fraud in the poll, despite the country’s election commission saying there was no evidence to support these claims.

News of the coup sparked off large-scale civilian demonstrations across the country, which the military dispersed with brutal force.

Since then, at least 1,178 people have been killed and 7,355 arrested, charged or sentenced in a crackdown on dissent, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

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