AAPP January 2017 Chronology
Summary of the Current Situation:
There are 250individuals oppressed in Burma due to political activities,86political prisoners are serving prison sentences, 90 are awaiting trial inside prison, 74 are awaiting trial outside prison.
MONTH IN REVIEW
This month, 30 people were arrested, 25 of whom are farmers, four from ethnic areas, and one under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law. In January, 36people were charged, including 25 farmers, nine students, and 2 individuals from ethnic minorities. There were no sentences in the month of January.60individuals were released, 58 of whom are farmers, one who had been charged under Section66(d) and one activist. Twoincarcerated political prisoners are reported to be in bad health.
In January, farmers continued to be arrested and detained over arbitrary land confiscation disputes. On January 16, 37 farmers from Nan NwinGrat Village, Ayeyarwady Region had a complaint made against them for mischief and trespassing after ZayZay Aung, the son of retired military officer, Thein Win accused them of cutting bamboo on his land. On January 3, 21 farmers from Khan Lu Village in Sintgaing Township, Mandalay Division were arrested and charged with trespassing and destruction of property. The arrests were made in the wake of a dispute over confiscation of more than 70 acres of land by the military in 2011. On January 10, all 21 farmers were released on bail. These cases highlight the ongoing issue of farmer’s rights and arbitrarily confiscated land in Burma. AAPP urges the government to promptly resolve pending land confiscation matters to ensure farmers are no longer criminalized for trying to return to, and cultivate, their own land.
The Unlawful Association Act continues to be used as a tool for the arrest and detention of civilians accused of being associated with ethnic armed groups (EAGs). On January 19, the army finally confirmed the detention of two pastors, Naung Lat and Gam Seng from Mong Ko Township who went missing on December 24, 2016. The pair were held in detention without charge for almost a month, before being transferred to the Muse Police Station on January 24, where they are currently being investigated under Sections 17(1) and 17(2) of the Unlawful Association Act. The military has accused them of providing information, recruiting troops and transporting fuel to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Under international human rights law, arrest and detention without valid reasons is illegal. Arbitrary detention in this manner leaves people extremely vulnerable to severe human rights abuses. It took the military exactly a month to disclose the whereabouts of the two pastors following a huge amount of international pressure. AAPP urge officials to follow due process, be transparent, and document any and all arrests and/or detentions in order to protect individuals from human rights abuses.
Min Htay, senior member of the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) who was arrested and detained at a military checkpoint last month on December 28, was bought before the court and officially charged under Section 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act for alleged contact with the KIA on January 16. Deputy Spokesperson for the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) and human rights activist, KhineMyoHtun, was denied bail for the second time on January 13, despite concerns for his health. He was detained on July 25, 2016 under Sections 505(b) and 505(c) of the Penal Code for sedition and incitement respectively, after the ALP accused the military of breaching the Geneva Conventions by subjecting civilians to torture and forced portering. Mandalay Divisional Court rejected an appeal submitted by two interfaith activists, PwintPhyuLatt and ZawZawLatt who were sentenced to four years’ imprisonment under Section 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act in April 2016. On January 21, two residents from Hu Mann Village, Palaung Autonomous Region in Namhsan Township, Northern Shan State, were detained by the military. The military suspected them to be members of an ethnic armed group. Not only are arrests and detention in this manner likely to severely impede the peace process and the national reconciliation measures initiated by the government, they also violate citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of association enshrined in Article 20(1)of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) AAPP strongly recommends the government make appropriate amendments to the Unlawful Association Act, and ensure that pre-trial detention is used as a method of last resort. AAPP also recommends granting bail to those suffering from health conditions and ensuring detention and investigations are conducted in an impartial, and transparent manner.
Defamation laws, under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law and Section 500 of the Penal Code continue to be used to silence individuals expressing their right to freedom of expression. On January 17, the military filed a complaint against nine students for defamation under Section 500 of the Penal Code by the military. They staged a critical drama of armed clashes between ethnic groups and the military during a peace discussion at the Bassein Hotel in Pathein, Irrawaddy Division on January 9. Also in January, secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Research Committee, Myo Yan Naung Thein, was denied bail three times by the Kamayut Township Court on January 7, 11, and 17. He is facing trial under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law for Facebook posts said to have defamed the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, after criticizing the army’s response to alleged attacks by Rohingya Muslim militants. A lawsuit was also filed against local newspaper ‘ThuriyaNaywun’, for defamatory articles about Thura U Shwe Mann, and his son Toe Naing Mann. The complaint was filed by retired military officer, MyintZaw, against the newspapers publisher Khin Aye, authorof the article, Htaung Thu Ye Ba Oak; and the Administrator of the newspaper, Kyaw Tint. ThaHlaHtun also had a complaint brought against him by Local Chairman of the Arakan National Party (ANP) Maung Tin Tun for defamation under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law. He is accused of posting defamatory content against senior officials of the ANP and using Maung Tin Tun’s photograph on Facebook without permission. Enquiries into these two complaints have begun but no arrests have been made so far. AAPP will continue tracking these developments.
Section 66(d) also continues to be a tool for arbitrary detention in civil cases. Shine Htet Aung was denied bail on January 5 by the Thingangyun Township Court, Rangoon, after being sued under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law. He is accused of defaming a Member of a Stray Dog Lovers Group, KyuKyu Thein Lwin.
For more information:
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
Tate Naing (Secretary) +66 (0) 812 878 751
Bo Kyi (Joint Secretary) +95 (0) 942 530 8840
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Current Political Prisoners list Remaining PPs Updated on 31 Jan 17
Current Facing Trial list 164 facing trial list updated on 31 Jan 17
66(d) case Total record list 66 (D) total list(new) Updated