What is AAPP?
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), otherwise known as AAPP, is a human rights organization based in Mae Sot, Thailand, with recently opened offices in Rangoon and Mandalay, Burma. AAPP advocates for the release of all remaining political prisoners in Burma and for the improvement of their quality of life during and after incarceration. AAPP has developed rehabilitation and assistance programs for those political activists who have been released while continuing to document the ongoing imprisonment of political activists in Burma.
As long as political prisoners exist inside Burma, Burma will not be free. They represent the struggle for democracy, human rights, equality and freedom for the people of Burma. This makes the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners an integral part of Burma’s drive for national reconciliation.
History of AAPP
AAPP was founded on March 23, 2000, the 11th anniversary of the arrest of Min Ko Naing, a student leader and prominent figure during the 1988 uprising who spent nineteen years in prison. From 2000 to the present day, AAPP has based its headquarters in Mae Sot, Thailand, due to the exile of most AAPP team members. AAPP has successfully adapted to the on-going political transformations within Burma. Since 2012, Burma has released a great number of political prisoners and most of the former political prisoners involved with AAPP have now been removed from the Burmese government’s blacklist, which has allowed us to open two more AAPP offices within Burma, one in Rangoon and the other in Mandalay. As such, AAPP saw an opportunity to further develop efficient nation-wide assistance programs in order to meet the needs of those released.
From its formation on January 2013, AAPP was a key member of the Committee for Scrutinizing the Remaining Political Prisoners (CSRPP) until it was disbanded at the beginning of 2015. Despite AAPP’s dedication and central role in the CSRPP, the government chose to exclude AAPP from the new body, the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee, formed in January 2015. AAPP continues to campaign for the release of all remaining political prisoners. In 2017, despite promises of the NLD to release all remaining political prisoners, AAPP holds records of sentenced and incarcerated political prisoners, and hundreds of individuals awaiting trial for politically motivated actions.
To achieve national reconciliation and to help transform Burma into a free and democratic society, where no political prisoners remain incarcerated and individuals’ civil and political rights are protected, fulfilled, and maintained.
- To secure the unconditional release of all political prisoners, assist in their reintegration into society through mental and physical rehabilitation, and ensure their right to safe participation in the democratization process in Burma.
- To prevent human rights violations and protect political activists, human rights defenders/campaigners, and the people of Burma from all human rights violations.
- To continue to be a reliable and credible source of information on political prisoner issues in Burma by documenting issues political prisoners face, the wider overarching problems contributing to these issues, and how they can be resolved.
- To raise awareness domestically and internationally about human rights abuses and promote civil and political rights and the rule of law in Burma through advocacy and lobbying.
- To cooperate with local, regional, and international stakeholders in developing transitional justice programs to foster national reconciliation.
- Provide humanitarian assistance and vocational/educational training to current/former political prisoners and their families.
- Offer mental health counseling services through MHAP to current and former political prisoners, their family members and members of the general population; and training CBOs in mental health counseling.
- Promote and Protect human rights by delivering human rights awareness sessions as well as training on human rights, human rights documentation, and transitional justice.
- Monitor and document political prisoner cases, prison conditions and violations of human rights.
- Publish reports related to political prisoner issues based on trends identified through monitoring and documentation as well as translations of international human rights treaties.
- Collaborate with CSOs, governments, and international organizations on prison reform as well as institutional, legislative, and policy reforms relating to civil and political rights.
- Advocate for the amendment/repeal of repressive laws and lobby the Government to sign and ratify international human rights treaties.
AAPP is widely recognized as a reliable and credible source of information on Burmese political prisoner issues by the United Nations, foreign governments, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and respected media outlets around the world.