AAPP Condemns the Sentencing of Former Political Prisoner Nay Myo Zin Under Article 401(1) (2013)
AAPP (B) condemns the sentencing of former political prisoner Nay Myo Zin under Article 401 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Nay Myo Zin, charity worker and coordinator of the Myanmar Social Development Network, is the first former political prisoner to be ordered to serve the remainder of his original prison sentence. He has been ordered to serve 6 years of his previous 10-year sentence.
Thousands of former political prisoners have been released under Article 401 (1), which gives the President of the Union power to “remit the whole or any part of the punishment to which he has been sentenced” at any time. The re-imprisonment of Nay Myo Zin is a disturbing warning sign to former political prisoners conditionally released under Article 401 (1).
Nay Myo Zin learned of the sentence when U Aye Thaung, Ma-u-bin District Administrator, visited Nay Myo Zin in prison to read out the verdict on 7 May 2013. Nay Myo Zin was not aware of the additional sentence and was given no time to prepare a defense or consult with a lawyer. He is currently serving a 3-month sentence in Ma-u-bin prison under false accusations of disturbing a police officer.
The move to impose Nay Myo Zin’s remaining sentence comes on the same day he was
scheduled to be released on bail. A coalition of landless farmers raised 20,000 kyats to post bail and delivered it to the Pantanaw Court on 7 May 2013. However, hours before he was to be freed, the Ministry of Home Affairs ordered Nay Myo Zin to serve 6 years of his remaining 9-year sentence.
Nay Myo Zin was arrested in late January 2013 while supporting a farmer’s union located in Pantanaw Township, Irrawaddy Division. The union, which represents an estimated 20,000 farmers, organized a demonstration calling for the return of confiscated land and the restoration of farmer’s rights on 13 January 2013. Nay Myo Zin, along with 3 farmers, were arrested and accused under Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Act. Nay Myo Zin was additionally accused under Section 500 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and given the option of 3-month imprisonment or payment of a 20,000 kyats fine on 2 May 2013. Nay Myo Zin refused to pay the fine, claiming the formal accusations are baseless and unlawful. Nay Myo Zin, along with the 3 farmers (U Thein Winn, U Maung Aye, and U Maung Nyein) are still facing trial under Section 18.
Nay Myo Zin, former army captain and charity worker, was initially imprisoned for 10 years under the Electronics Transactions Act in March 2011, making him the first political prisoner under President U Thein Sein. He was conditionally released on 13 January 2012 and briefly re-arrested the same month for having personal items, including a key chain, bearing the image of General Aung San. Nay Myo Zin still suffers from severe back pain stemming from mistreatment and inadequate medical care while in prison.
“The case of Nay Myo Zin sends a strong message to thousands of released political prisoners who have similarly been released under Article 401 (1)1: you are not free. His sentence greatly harms the human rights of released political prisoners and their ability to openly and freely engage in democracy and the national reconciliation process,” said Secretary of AAPP (B) Tate Naing.
AAPP (B) is greatly concerned that Nay Myo Zin will be the first of a long line of former political prisoners re-arrested and made to serve the remainder of their outstanding prison sentences, many of which number above 60 years. We strongly condemn Nay Myo Zin’s imprisonment and call on the Government of Burma to release him immediately and unconditionally and to wipe his criminal record. Parallel to this, we urge the Government of Burma to lift restrictions on all former political prisoners and restore their basic human rights, including freedom of movement.