AAPP’s Monthly Chronology of March 2020 and Current Political Prisoners List
Army Arrests Village Administrator and Civilian in Arakan State
On March 2, the army arrested a village administrator, Kyaw Mya Sein, and a civilian, Yan Aung Chay, in Naram Village in Minbya Township from Arakan State. The two were arrested while stopping a fight between drunk people at a wedding in their village, according to Khin Oo Kyi, daughter of the village administrator.
Army Detains Ten Civilians in Arakan State
On March 16, ten civilians in Tinma Village in Kyauktaw Township located in Arakan State were arrested. Before the arrests, 50 civilians were taken away to a hilltop where the military was stationed, and then 40 were released half an hour later. The army detained the other ten whose names are Aung Nyunt, Tun Win Maung, Yin Maung, Than Maung Tun, Maung Win, Maung Win Chay, Maung Kyi Lin, Maung Win Pane and 15-year-old Tun Tun Wai.
Nine Civilians Arrested in Kyauktaw Township
On March 19, the army arrested nine civilians in Mrauk Daung Village, Kyauktaw Township in Arakan State on suspicion of association with the AA. The arrested were Than Naing, Kyaw Tun Hla, San La Tun, Tun Win, Sein Maung, Thar Tun Aung, Hla Maung Thein and Maung Thein, who is from Mrauk-U Village and works as a carpenter in Mrauk Daung Village.
8 Men from Tin Ma Village in Kyauktaw Township Arrested by Army
On March 13, soldiers arrested 8 people from Tin Ma village in Kyauktaw Township on suspicision of association with the AA. Several villagers, including children and elderly, were forced to gather under a tree; then the 8 men were forced to strip and were blindfolded with their clothes before being taken away. On March 14 there had been no news concerning the fate or whereabouts of the arrested. Family members have expressed their concern and fear over the wellbeing of their loved ones. Those arrested from Tin Ma village have been named as Maung Sein Gyi, Kyaw Win Maung, Hla Kyaw Gyi, Maung Than Soe, Saw Shwe Than, San Thar Maung, Maung Mya Aye and Maung Tun Sein.
Two Young Men Arrested at Checkpoint Sittwe Township
Two men, Nay Lin Htay, 24, and Maung Saw Aye 28, from Ain Tin village from Ponnarkyun Township in Arakan State, were arrested by the police and army at the checkpoint on Kyauktan Gyi bridge in Sittwe Township on March 5. One person from Kyauktan Gyi village said that the two, when they approached Tatmadaw troops and police officers on the bridge, did not stop the motorbike and attempted to drive off. Consequently, shots were fired by the army, and they were arrested. According to Colonel Min Thant, Minister of Security and Border Affairs in the Rakhine State Government, the arrested persons had connections to the Arakan Army (AA).
13 Arrested and 4 Found Dead after Army Convoy Attack by AA in Mrauk-U Township
On March 3, the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services released a statement saying 13 male suspects have been arrested after fighting occurred near Myaung Bway village in Mrauk-U Township in Arakan State. The statement said security forces fought back against Arakan Army (AA) troops as the AA ambushed an army convoy after carrying out remote mine attacks on the group at a location about 1,5 km west of Myaung Bway village on February 29. During the attacks, some military officers and soldiers of other ranks were injured, two vehicles were damaged, as well as 9 locals were killed and 18 others injured. It added that the army seized the bodies of two AA members and arrested 13 men including Tun Tun Win, son of Sein Tun Aung, on that same day.
According to preliminary interrogations, some of the arrested people had reported to the AA the activities of military columns and vehicles along the Minbya–Mrauk-U–Kyauktaw road and were involved in attacks on military forces. Locals said the Tatmadaw arrested a total of 13 people — five people including Tun Tun Win from Shwe Hlan village and eight people from other villages. The bodies of Maung Kyaw Khaing (36) from Lat Than Chay village, Maung Than Htay (39) from Kywal Tel village, and Habib Ar Laung (52) from Bu Ta Lone Muslim village were found on March 2, and the body of Maung Saw Hlaing (47) from Shwe Hlan village was found on March 1. Locals said the men were among those arrested by the army. The army, however, did not say anything in its statement regarding the four bodies discovered.
Police Arrest Villagers After Clash Over Chinese Cement Plant Protest in 2019
On March 22, Police fired their guns during a raid in and arrested more than 10 residents who had protested against a Chinese-backed coal-powered cement factory in May 2019. Since the protest several residents have been arrested or are awaiting trial while in detention. Others who fled to avoid arrest are considered fugitives and are being sought by police.
Army Arrests Village Headman in Eastern Shan State on Suspicision of Association with RCSS
A village headman and his son were arrested on suspcision of association with Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) by the army after government forces clashed with the RCSS in Mongton Township, eastern Shan State during the last week of March. Combined forces from the three battalions under the Mong Hsat-based Military Operations Command 14 attacked an RCSS military camp near Mong Eis village on the morning of March 25. The army then detained the headman and his son, the RCSS confirmed. The son was released a few days later; however, his father remains in custody.
CID Arrests Editor-in-Chief of Voice of Myanmar
On March 30, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested Nay Myo, a.k.a Nay Myo Lin, the editor-in-chief of Voice of Myanmar news agency based in Mandalay in his home for broadcasting interviews with Arakan Army (AA). After the arrest, witness material was seized from the press office of Voice of Myanmar news agency and the case was filed at the Chanmyathazi Township Court. Regarding the broadcast of the interview with AA’s spokesman on March 27, Mandalay’s Deputy Police Chief Khin Maung Win filed suit under Section 50 (a), 52 (a) of the Anti-Terrorism Law at the police station no.10 in Mandalay.
Channel Mandalay TV Journalist Charged with Four Counts of Penal Code
On March 13, journalist Aung Kyi Myint, a.k.a Nanda, was charged under Article 147, 333, 332 and 114 of the Penal Code at Pathein Township Court in Mandalay Division. Aung Kyi Myint is a journalist for Channel Mandalay TV based in Mandalay and he was arrested during a live TV broadcast about police shootings during protests around a coal-fired power plant in March 2019. Aung Kyi Myint was then charged by Myo Nyunt Than, Police Chief in Pathein Township.
Environmental Activist Sued and Charged for Defamation against the State
A court in Hpa-an Township in Kayin State has issued an arrest warrant for Saw Thar Baw of the Karen Rivers Watch Network on charges of defamation against the state in accordance to Section 505(b) of the Penal Code on March 6 for his involvement in a traditional prayer ceremony on January 17 to advocate for the protection of local water resources against pollution from coal-powered cement factory in Hpa-an’s Myaingkalay District.
On March 6, local police went to arrest Saw Tha Boe, who works for Karen River Watch, by going to his house, but he was not at home. Police searched his house and questioned members of his family. In an interview with Karen News on March 7, Saw Tha Boe said he knew nothing about the court orders. He said he was only made aware of the case against him when a colleague told him police had searched his house to arrest him. He said he did not receive any notice letter from the court and was told the court hearing is scheduled for March 10, which due to a trip he would not make it.
Charges Against Rakhine Parliamentarian Filed
The military has leveled charges against a member of the national parliament under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law. On March 5, Lt Colonel Pyae Sone Aung from Military Operations Command (15), Buthidaung, brought the case to Buthidaung Court accusing National Assembly MP Maung Kyaw Zan of reporting false information to Reuters about a fatal shelling in the Rakhine State.
On February 25, two women were killed and seven injured in the shelling of Kin Taung, a Muslim village in Buthidaung. The Arakan Army and the military traded blame for the incident but neither accepted responsibility. As parliamentary representative of Buthidaung Township in Rakhine State, Maung Kyaw Zan personally visited the hospital where the injured civilians related that the shell was fired by the military. He then passed this information on to Reuters. According to Maung Kyaw Zan, the news agency is also reportedly facing related charges.
Army Files Charges Against Villagers and Chief in Hsihseng Township over Land Issue
An army officer filed a criminal case against four villagers and a village chief in southern Shan State’s Hsihseng Township, on claims that they destroyed a fence being built by the military on confiscated land. The fence was built on March 6 on the road near Kawng Tayoe village in Nawng Kyaw village tract under order of the Eastern Military Command. On March 9 the four leaders of Nawng Kyaw, Pin Sone, Mya Kantha and Aung Chan Tha villages visited the fence after hearing that it was becoming difficult for villagers to travel on the road. San Win Maung, village headman of Aung Chan Tha, recounted that villagers had removed some of the fence as the military had extended the road to accommodate more travel. But they did not destroy it, he claims, and piled the pieces of wood they removed nearby the road.
Officer Maj Naing Kyaw Zin from Light Infantry Battalion 424 filed charges against San Win Maung and villager Cho Cho Win for aiding other farmers to dismantle the fence under violation of Articles 353, 429 and 447 of the Penal Code- which include allegations of disturbing official duties and destruction of property. Police from Hsihseng informed the two of the charges against them on March 13 which they will face in court.
Two Men Granted Bail after Charges over Unauthorized Public Meeting in Kyaukphyu Township
On March 26, Tun Kyi and Chan Maung were released on bail at 3 million kyat (2,143 USD) per person after being questioned and charged under Section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly Law for organizing a public meeting about the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on March 20 at Kulabar village in Kyaukphyu Township, which was attended by around 500 people, including two lawmakers. On March 23, Kyaukphyu Township administrator, Soe Moe Kyaw, submitted a complaint against them to police for arranging a public meeting without authorities’ permission, according to Tun Kyi. During the village-level meeting, demands were put forward intended to ensure that local populations are not negatively affected by the SEZ project, including recognizing existing land-sharing custom according to law; meeting with locals to reach an agreement before starting to build the SEZ; creating job opportunities for fishermen whose work has been affected by construction of the deep-sea port; and examining trade and registration issues related to the ownership of tidal mangrove forests claimed by locals.
Month in Review
Freedom of Speech and Expression
In March, environmental activist Saw Thar Phoe, National Assembly Representative Kyaw Zan from Buthidaung Township, Arakan State, Tun Kyi and Chan Maung, two members of the Special Economic Zone Watch Group were charged for exercising freedom of expression. In addition, activist Than Hla from Switte Township, Arakan State, Naung Htet Aung, Aung Pyae Sone Phyo, Zaw Htet Naing, Hnin Nu, and Aye Myat Mon Kyaw from Yangon University of Education, Thu Ta Soe from Yankin Education College, and Thet Tin Aung from Taungoo Education College, were sentenced.
In March, five civilians from Aung Thabyay Village, Patheingyi Township, Mandalay Division were sentenced to five years imprisonment after they were arrested and sued over a coal-fired power plant. Furthermore, while the police tried to arrest five of Aung Thabyay villagers who were issued arrest warrants, a bullet hit the leg of Shwe Ohn, a villager and more than ten villagers were arrested including Shwe Ohn.
Therefore, AAPP urges the government to improve the human rights situation by promoting the civil rights of its citizens and to immediately amend or abolish all laws that restrict the freedom of speech and expression, release all political prisoners oppressed for exercising the freedom of speech and expression, and release all of those who are facing trial inside and outside of prison.
Freedom of Press
Repeated attacks against the freedom of the press continued in March
- Nay Myo a.k.a Nay Myo Lin, editor-in-chief of Mandalay-based Voice of Myanmar was arrested and charged, Khaing Myat Kyaw, editor-in-chief of Narinjara News agency, was also charged
- A group of 10 people, including Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Special Branch (SB), and local administrators in normal clothes, came to the Narinjara news agency’s office and took Thant Myat Khaing, Aung Lin Tun, and Tun Khaing, the three reporters of Narinjara News Agency, for interrogation, they were later released after being questioned for six hours
- Police and CID came to the house of Hlaing Thit Zin Wai a.k.a Thar Lon Zaung Htet, editor-in-chief of Khit Thit News Media and interviewed his family about his work
- Reporter Nanda a.k.a Aung Kyi Myint of Mandaly-based Channel Mandalay TV news agence was prosecuted, and Reuters news agency also was charged (
- DMG (Development Media Group), Mandalay In-Depth News and VOM (Voice Of Myanmar)၊ Mekong News were some of over 200 websites that have been blocked by telecommunications operators with government directives
- Naw Betty Han, a reporter for Frontier Myanmar, and Ko Mar Naw, a photojournalist for Myanmar Times were detained and beaten by some members of Karen Border Guard Force (BGF) and later released after being detained for one day
Repression of the news media obscures human rights hinders free access to information about developments across the country. The rights of journalists are clearly described in chapter (3) of the News Media Law. Charges are stated in chapter (8) of the News Media Law, and punishments are clearly described in chapter (9). The media sector and an accurate flow of information is vital for Burma’s transition process. Therefore, AAPP urges the government to protect journalists and the media.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11 declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. This is a matter of great concern to prisoners inside Burma. Most prisons in Burma are overcrowded and have inadequate healthcare & nutrition, and poor hygiene. This makes it very difficult to protect others if someone is infected. On March 17, Ministry of Health and Sport, Union Minister Dr. Myint Htwe attended the daily central coordination meeting of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and said that the guidelines would be developed and provided to the Ministry of Health as soon as possible in order to provide health education and healthcare to not only prisoners but also to people living in refugee camps in the conflict areas. Furthermore, there has been a reduction in the number of visitors allowed to prisons in order to control the spread of COVID-19. Pesticide spraying has been performed 313 times in prison visiting rooms, according to the prison department. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) welcomes preventative measures and call on the government to act promptly to limit the spread of disease.
As COVID-19 is a viral disease, it is important to strictly work on prevention. In doing so, the prison health examination must be conducted in advance, and an adequate supply of doctors and medical staff in prisons and hospitals in prisons is urgently needed. As overcrowding and the current poor standard of health care in prison will lead to difficulty in managing COVID-19, AAPP urges the government to implement changes to reduce the number of prisoners in accordance with the law.
In March, a total of nine land activist and farmers, 35 Kareni farmers from Loikaw and Demoso Townships, Kayah State were sentenced and San Win Maung, Aungchanthar Village Headman and farmer activist Cho Cho Win of southern Shan State’s Hsihseng Township were charged. When farmers’ livelihoods are adversely affected due to land confiscation, having to deal with lawsuits and penalties has caused a great deal of damage to farmers livelihoods. AAPP urges the government to protect the interests of affected farmers as soon as possible.
Consequences of Conflict in ethnic areas
There were severe human rights violations along with heavy armed clashes between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army in March.
- Deaths from tortures
- Maung Phyu Htun from Nhamadar Village, Palatwa Township, Chin State, was arrested and interrogated by Tatmadaw and died of torture in an interrogation center at Kyauktaw Township, Rakkhine State on March 4.
- Maung Win Gyi’s body was found floating in the water on March 18, he had been arrested together with nine local residents from Tinma Village, Kyauktaw Township, Rakkhine State by Tatmadaw.
- Than Shwe Maung’s dead body was sent to the hospital by Tatmadaw on March 29.
Villagers who were arrested in Arakan and Shan States by Police, Military Troops and Military Cooperation groups –
Ten villagers from Tinma village, Nine villagers from Myauktaung village, Eight villager from New Tinma village, Mae Tote Chay from Marlar village and his son Than Htun Maung and and Daw Ma Chay from Tharsi village, U Than Shwe Maung from Datphyu village (he was death during detention), Two villagers from Gaungtote village (they were released after being arrested for two days), Four villagers from Marlar village (they were blindfolded, handcuffed their back and kept unfed for three days and nights during interrogation and they were released after being interrogated)
Eastern Shan State
MaingAit village administrator and his son, Maing Hsat Township in Eastern Shan State (Later on, the administrator’s son was released)
Human Rights Violations Committed by Ethnic Armed Organizations
- Arakan Army arrested three villagers from Kaytha village, Palatwa Township, Chin State, five staffs from Moe Htet Myint Tower Company (they were released after being detained for two days) and fifteen workers from Palatwa Jetty Bridge Construction (they were released after being detained a day).
- Troops of the Palaung State Liberation Front/ the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (PSLF/TNLA) arrested five residents from Kyankar village, Namkham Township, Northern Shan State.
The following casualties were reported due to the ongoing conflict in the country
Conflict related casualties
- Seven residents including two children were killed and 53 residents including 14 children were injured by gunfire in Palatwa Township, Chin State, Mrauk-U, Sittwe, Kyauktaw, Ponnagyunn, Maungdaw and Minbya Townships, Rakkhine State.
- A resident were killed by gunfire in Dwelunn Township, Karen State.
- Two residents were killed by gunfire in Namhkam Township, Shan State.
Artillery Shell explosion injuries and fatalities
- Five residents including a child were killed and 58 residents including 21 children got injured in Kyauktaw, Rathedaung, Ann, Minbya and Ponnagyunn Township, Rakkhine State.
Landmine and bomb blast injuries and fatalities
- A child was killed and five children got injured by bomb blast in Mrauk-U, Kyaukphyu Townships in Rakkhine State. Moreover, a child was killed and ten residents including a child got injured by landmine in Rathedaung, Minbya and Maungdaw Townships, Rakkhine State.
- Two residents in Mogaung Township, Kachin State and another two residents in Yebyu Township, Tanintharyi Region got injured by landmine.
This is a matter of critical concern to ethnic minorities. ethnic minorities are living with the threat of daily human rights violations, daily living under fear and insecurity. Therefore, there it is important these indigenous communities receive the justice they deserve.
In summary, the prevalence of human rights violations in Burma has deteriorated amid the COVID-19 pandemic period. Therefore, we urge the government to address the rights of equality and freedom of living as promoting human rights.
Download link for Month in Review and Chronology March Chronology
Current PP list 92 Remaining PP list (Updated On 31 Mar 2020)
Facing Trial list 523 Facing Trial List (Updated On 31 March 2020)
66(D) list 66 (D) total list(new) Updated
For more information:
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP)
Tate Naing (Secretary) +95(0) 9428 023 828
U Bo Kyi (Joint-Secretary) +95(0) 942 530 8840