Myanmar/Burma — Two of Burma’s upper echelon have been charged with high treason on Friday. U Aye Maung, a member of Burmese Parliament, and Wai Hin Aung, an author, were charged by the Sittwe District Court.

On Jan. 17, thousands of Burmese were in the streets, protesting the government’s decision to ban the celebration of an ancient culture — the Arakan Kingdom. Many trace their heritage there, and they were upset when the government cancelled it. Protests ensued, and though the stories surrounding the events are unclear, the Burmese police ended up opening fire with live rounds, killing seven Buddhist protesters. Some have dubbed it the “Mrauk U Massacre.”

The initial stories by the police and the stories from protesters all seem to point in one direction: the people were angry, protested, things got out of hand, which was further exacerbated when the police started shooting live ammunition. In the days that followed, the Ministry of Home Affairs accused U Aye Maung and Wai Hin Aung of speaking out, inciting the protests in the first place. Maung is a prominent Arakan leader, a people that resides in Rakhine State, the same state that the Rohingya are currently fleeing, though they are not the same ethnic minority.

The two had spoken publicly before the events that transpired in Mrauk U, and the government statement accused Maung of saying that, “Bamar (the Burmese) people think of Rakhine people as slaves. There is no equal treatment. There are two ways to regain sovereignty. One way is with weapons and another is community-based politics.” However, these accusations by the courts are yet to be corroborated by other sources.