THE SHAME – NGOs call for ac­tion over po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers who re­main in jail

NGOs call for ac­tion over po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers who re­main in jail

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Marc Ja­cob

On the oc­ca­sion of the third an­niver­sary last month of the death of U Win Tin, 22 or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, called for the im­me­di­ate re­lease of all in­di­vid­u­als de­tained or im­pris­oned on fab­ri­cated, po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated charges, and for the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­de­pen­dent and ef­fec­tive prisoner re­view mech­a­nism to bring about an end to ar­bi­trary ar­rests and de­ten­tions in Myan­mar.

U Win Tin, who served nearly 20 years in jail as a prisoner of con­science, fa­mously pledged to wear a blue shirt, the same colour shirt he had to wear in prison, un­til all po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers in the coun­try were re­leased. On April 21, peo­ple around the world wore a blue shirt or blue cloth­ing in sol­i­dar­ity with U Win Tin’s call. Shame sur­rounds the fail­ure of the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment to act. One year af­ter the Na­tional League for Democ­racy-led gov­ern­ment took power, and de­spite a se­ries of prisoner re­leases, there are still scores of peo­ple be­hind bars as a re­sult of po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated ar­rest and im­pris­on­ment.

Re­pres­sive laws which ar­bi­trar­ily re­strict the rights to free­dom of ex­pres­sion, as­so­ci­a­tion and peace­ful as­sem­bly re­main in place, and au­thor­i­ties con­tinue to use them to in­tim­i­date, ar­rest and jail hu­man rights de­fend­ers, other peace­ful ac­tivists, and mem­bers of eth­nic mi­nori­ties, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment com­piled by a group of rights NGOs.In ad­di­tion, the civil­ian-led gov­ern­ment has yet to take ef­fec­tive ac­tion to ad­dress the coun­try’s long his­tory of po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated ar­rest, de­ten­tion and im­pris­on­ment.

The or­gan­i­sa­tions noted that in her most re­cent re­port to the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on the sit­u­a­tion of hu­man rights in Myan­mar has rec­om­mended that the gov­ern­ment un­der­take by Oc­to­ber 2017 “a com- pre­hen­sive re­view of all cases, based on broad and pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions with all rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers in view of the dis­crep­an­cies in the num­bers of re­main­ing po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers.”

The NGO state­ment, re­leased to co­in­cide with Win Tin’s death an­niver­sary, says:

“Our or­ga­n­i­tions be­lieve that the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­de­pen­dent, ef­fec­tive and prop­erly re­sourced prisoner re­view mech­a­nism with a clear man­date and pro­ce­dures to ad­dress both short and long-term is­sues re­lat­ing to spu­ri­ous po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated pros­e­cu­tion would be an im­por­tant step to ad­dress the decades-long prob­lem of po­lit­i­cal im­pris­on­ment in Burma/Myan­mar.”

One year af­ter the Na­tional League for Democ­racy-led gov­ern­ment took power, and de­spite a se­ries of prisoner re­leases, there are still scores of peo­ple be­hind bars as a re­sult of po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated ar­rest and im­pris­on­ment.

Photos of po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers by Mizzima

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