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Myanmar court hands three celebrities jail terms for leading pro-democracy protests

By Esther Kalu

A court in military-ruled Myanmar has jailed three prominent show business celebrities, Paing Takhon, Pyay Ti Oo and Eaindra Kyaw Zin to three years imprisonment each for their part in leading pro-democracy protests against a February coup.

The military was said to have overthrown an elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, triggering protests and turmoil that is still unfolding in the country.

In the early days of the protests, huge crowds gathered in cities and towns with many actors and singers using social media to voice their support and some speaking at rallies.

The high-profile actor couple Pyay Ti Oo and Eaindra Kyaw Zin, were said to have been arrested in April and charged under a section of the penal code that outlaws the spreading of dissent.

Also, A court in the main city of Yangon was said to have reportedly jailed them for three years with hard labour while the famous actor-director Lu Min, who has starred in more than 1,000 films, received the same sentence on the same charge.

Another celebrity, male model Paing Takhon, was sentenced to three years in jail with hard labour for the same charges.

As gathered, Myanmar has a thriving arts and entertainment scene. Much of the theatre and music is rooted in traditional themes but Burmese-language cover versions of Asian and Western pop songs are hugely popular and young Myanmar singers and actors have big followings.

At least 1,377 people have been killed and more than 11,000 jailed in a crackdown on protests and armed opposition since the coup, according to a tally by the Association for Assistance of Political Prisoners. The military government disputes those numbers and says soldiers have also been killed in clashes.

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