Amnesty calls for the free­ing of jailed Kachin anti-war ac­tivists

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

The hu­man rights NGO Amnesty In­ter­na­tional has called for the im­me­di­ate re­lease of three Kachin peace ac­tivists jailed for de­fam­ing the mil­i­tary.

A judge in My­itky­ina found the two men and one woman guilty of defama­tion and sen­tenced them to six months in prison and a fine of US$320 each, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia.

Re­spond­ing to the guilty ver­dict and six-month prison sen­tences handed to three ac­tivists on Fri­day for their role in a peace­ful protest in My­itky­ina, the cap­i­tal of Kachin State, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional’s Di­rec­tor of Cri­sis Re­sponse, Ti­rana Has­san, said:

“To­day’s ap­palling ver­dict against three peace­ful ac­tivists shows the govern­ment’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to si­lence any crit­i­cism of their ac­tions in this deadly con­flict – and re­press any peace­ful op­po­si­tion to the mil­i­tary what­so­ever.

“These jail sen­tences re­flect a pat­tern of con­tin­ued at­tacks, in­tim­i­da­tion, threats and prose­cu­tions against hu­man rights de­fend­ers, jour­nal­ists and com­mu­nity lead­ers who peace­fully speak out in de­fence of civil­ian vic­tims of mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions. It sends a chill­ing warn­ing to any hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­tor or ac­tivist who wants to tell the truth about the Myan­mar mil­i­tary’s bru­tal­ity in Kachin and north­ern Shan states and beyond.

“These ac­tivists made a peace­ful call for hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to vul­ner­a­ble civil­ians trapped in a con­flict zone. The con­vic­tions should be over­turned and the three re­leased im­me­di­ately. They should be com­mended, not pun­ished.”

A court in north­ern Myan­mar sen­tenced Lum Zawng, Nang Pu, and Zau Jet Fri­day. On 3 Septem­ber 2018, the three peace­ful ac­tivists were charged un­der Sec­tion 500 of the Pe­nal Code with defama­tion of the Myan­mar mil­i­tary.

The charges re­late to state­ments they made at a peace­ful rally in My­itky­ina, Kachin State, on 30 April 2018 and at a press con­fer­ence the next day, fol­low­ing ma­jor es­ca­la­tion in fight­ing in early April 2018 be­tween the Myan­mar mil­i­tary and the Kachin In­de­pen­dence Army (KIA), an eth­nic armed group in Kachin State. The three de­nied any wrong do­ing.

The fight­ing dis­placed more than 5,000 civil­ians, 2,000 of whom were trapped for sev­eral weeks in a for­est near the vil­lage of Aung Lawt, with­out ac­cess to hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance or safe pas­sage from the con­flict-af­fected area.

Since 2011, more than 100,000 peo­ple have been in­ter­nally dis­placed across the con­flict-af­fected ar­eas of north­ern Myan­mar, many of them dis­placed mul­ti­ple times.

Jailed ac­tivists Lum Zawng, Nang Pu, and Zau Jet. Photo: Amnesty

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.