Religious leaders urge govt to release activists
Twenty-two religious leaders have called for the release of two Muslim activists imprisoned in a case criticised as politically motivated.
RELIGIOUS leaders are calling on the government to intervene in the case of two Muslim activists imprisoned for unlawful association, charges that were internationally decried as politically motivated.
Signed by 22 leaders from different faiths, the petition demands the release of Ko Zaw Zaw Latt and Ma Pyint Phyu Latt, who were arrested last year after a campaign waged by nationalist group Ma Ba Tha. The two activists, who are members of an interfaith group, were charged over a visit to the Kachin Independence Army’s Laiza headquarters in 2013, and a separate visit to the Indian border in 2014.
In February, the activists were convicted under the Unlawful Associations Act and the 1947 Immigration Emergency Provisions Act. A third member of the same interfaith group, Ko Zaw Win Bo, was released after a presidential pardon on April 17. The petition for Ko Zaw Zaw Latt and Ma Pwint Phyu Latt’s freedom was signed by six Buddhist monks, six Christian leaders, five Muslim leaders and five interfaith activists, and was sent to the Mandalay Region chief minister and the Union government on August 24.
The petition argues that if the two activists were freed, they would be able to continue their volunteer work for the benefit of the country.
“Now, we have a new government in place and it should actively be doing things to make the situation better,” said Ko Zaw Zaw Latt’s sister Maw Zin War Latt. “I hope they are freed as soon as possible.”
Ko Zaw Zaw Latt (centre) and Ma Pwint Phyu Latt (left) appear for a hearing at Chan Aye Tharzan Township Court on February 26.