Pres­i­den­tial Amnesty: More anger than ben­e­fit for re­leas­ing Chi­nese log­gers?

Mizzima Business Weekly - - AFFAIRS -

It was sup­posed to be a diplo­matic coup when Pres­i­dent Thein Sein freed the 155 Chi­nese work­ers sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment for illegal log­ging less than two weeks ago in Burma, un­der a mas­sive pres­i­den­tial par­don. But it turned out to be a failed move po­lit­i­cally for the Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party-Mil­i­tary (USDP-Mil­i­tary) regime.

On 30 July, Pres­i­dent Thein Sein or­dered the re­lease of 6,966 pris­on­ers in a pres­i­den­tial amnesty. How­ever, as in pre­vi­ous mass re­leases, most of those freed were crim­i­nals and for­mer mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers jailed in 2004. Only 13 of those re­leased were po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers, in­clud­ing five jour­nal­ists. The re­lease also in­cluded 155 Chi­nese log­gers jailed on 22 July, and 55 more for­eign na­tion­als.

As of 31 July, at least 120 po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers re­main in­car­cer­ated, with 444 ac­tivists fac­ing crim­i­nal charges for po­lit­i­cal ac­tions. In a state­ment re­leased on 14 July, Hu­man Rights Watch (HRW) warned that the re­cent surge in po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers casts doubt on the regime’s com­mit­ment to a gen­uine demo­cratic elec­tion in Novem­ber.

Ear­lier, on 22 July, My­itky­ina Town­ship Court, Kachin State, had sen­tenced 155 Chi­nese cit­i­zens to life in prison un­der Ar­ti­cle 6(a) of the Public Prop­erty Pro­tec­tion Act for illegal log­ging in Kachin State. Two Chi­nese mi­nors re­ceived ten year sen­tences for the same of­fence, while one woman re­ceived an ad­di­tional

Sai Wan­sai The Chi­nese log­gers out­side court. Photo: EPA

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