Calls for Release of Political Prisoners in Burma
02 September 2011: Despite political atmosphere being positively shaped by the ruling authorities to improve their image, Burma has still got around 2,000 prisoners of conscience amid continued calls for their immediate and unconditional release.
In Hluttaw session held at Naypyidaw on Friday, Burma’s MPs joined in demanding an amnesty for all political prisoners with the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Mr. Tomas Ojea Quintana, who visited Rangoon’s notorious Insein Jail during his recent visit to the country.
In his statement last Thursday, Mr. Quintana said: “While I welcome the positive developments, there are still serious and ongoing human rights concerns that need to be addressed. Of key concern to me and to the international community is the continuing detention of a large number of prisoners of conscience.”
He also stressed the release of political prisoners is a ‘central and necessary’ step towards national reconciliation and bring democracy into Burma.
In Burma, there are a total of 1995 political prisoners including monks, MPs, students, women, ethnic nationalities, teachers, activists, humanitarian volunteers, NLD members, doctors, media, labour, human rights and individual activists, and lawyers, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).
On 19 July this year, Aung Hla Myint aka Phoe Htaung, an NLD member, was arrested by Thein Sein-led government authorities in Tatkon Township, Mandalay Division and another former political prisoner was once again detained under an ‘unclear’ charge, according to AAPP.
Yesterday in London, about 100 people gathered in front of the Burmese Embassy as part of the 88 New Generation Students Organisation’s three-month campaign programme, calling on the new government to free all political prisoners in Burma.
Chin activist Shwekey Hoipang said: “In order for Burma to really move towards a democratic country, all the political prisoners including ethnic, religious and student leaders must be set free. Then, a system that guarantees equality, justice, self-determination and freedom must be implemented under a UN-backed dialogue.”
An ex-military captain Nay Myo Zin, 35, was given a 10-year imprisonment in a secret closed-door trial last Friday by government-controlled Burmese court for writing articles to the Democratic Voice of Burma and other Burmese media groups.
On 9 September, an international protest is organised at the Burmese Embassy to call for the release of Ms Hla Hla Win, a Burmese reporter arrested in September 2009 after conducting interviews with Buddhist monks but sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in Magwe Division.
Mr. Quintana who last year recommended the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma repeated his call during his press conference at the Yangon International Airport last Thursday.
Burma’s new nominally civilian government has been criticised for steering its recent direction toward reforms only in efforts to ward off international pressure and to desperately polish its image on the global stage ahead of upcoming ASEAN meeting in Cambodia and the United Nations General Assembly.
Van Biak Thang