Political Prisoners in Burma Increase in September: AAPP

political prisoners, Myanmar, Burma, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, AAPP, Bo Kyi,

A prisoner’s hand grips the bars on the window of a prison van as he leaves a court in Rangoon, where he was charged with inciting unrest by participating in a Nov. 26 protest against a copper mine in northwest Burma. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says the number of political prisoners in Burma rose last month, with 33 activists and protestors put behind bars in September while more than 200 others are facing trials.

The number marked a “significant increase,” said the Thailand-based AAPP, despite President Thein Sein’s vow to release all of Burma’s remaining political prisoners by the end of this year.

The AAPP said 232 activists are facing trial for leading various protests across the country since 2012. Ten convicted political prisoners were discharged last month after fully serving their prison terms, meaning Burma added a net 23 political prisoners to its cells last month.

Those imprisoned in September included 20 peace protest organizers, six farmers charged with trespassing and others found guilty of violating a variety of statutes including defamation, the Unlawful Association Law, Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Act and Section 505(b) of the Burmese Penal Code, according to Khin Cho Myint, the AAPP’s documentation officer.

Section 18 requires that would-be demonstrators receive permission from relevant government authorities before staging a protest, while Section 505(b) pertains to those accused of “intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility.”

The AAPP also separately recorded the cases of farmers who are facing trial for plowing lands confiscated by the government.

“We were able to record about 149 farmers,” Khin Cho Myint said, “who are charged under Section 18 and with trespassing, within the three-month period from June to August 2013.”

She said the number of farmers’ cases could increase by several hundred more that AAPP has not yet been able to gather adequate information about. Most of the documented cases are from Irrawaddy, Pegu and Rangoon divisions and northern Arakan State, she added.

Some 135 political prisoners remain in prison, according to the AAPP, 10 days after the government released 56 largely ethnic political prisoners, most of whom were charged under the Unlawful Association Law.

The 33 convictions considered by AAPP to be political in nature compare with just seven people sentenced in August.

Bo Kyi, the joint-secretary of the AAPP, said on Friday that talks between his organization and the government were ongoing.

“We are still discussing the details about the remaining political prisoners,” he told The Irrawaddy.Bo Kyi is also a member of a government-appointed committee charged with assessing the legal status of prisoners suspected of having been jailed for political reasons.

Both political prisoners locked up under the previous military regime and those charged since Thein Sein took office have been released in several presidential amnesties since 2011.

Those still serving sentences are a mix of convictions made prior to and during Thein Sein’s presidency.

“In our list, 66 of them were imprisoned under the previous regime, while 38 were imprisoned under the current government,” said Bo Kyi, referring to the official government committee’s list, which differs slightly from AAPP’s tally.

The scrutinizing committee’s job is getting more difficult as some of the prisoners still under consideration are behind bars on criminal charges such as rape or murder, he said, adding that “the government cannot provide us with the information we need for the process.”

This week, two Arkanese protest organizers were sentence to three months in prison under Section 18, while two others in Rangoon and Prome were released after paying fines.

Bo Kyi said the application of Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Law remained a concern for Burma’s justice system, which AAPP was discussing with the government.

“As we have said repeatedly, we cannot say that there are no more political prisoners without releasing all of them,” he said.

2 Responses to Political Prisoners in Burma Increase in September: AAPP

  1. Maung Lu Aye ( Law ) R.A.S.U.1976

    When Late Ne Win had demolished Rangoon’s Jail/Prison in late Sixties & Early Seventies and Most of the People thought that he was a compassionate,Merciful Leader Not wanting Jail for the Criminals,Especially for Political Prisoners . He had a Great Plan and Intention for the Convicted Criminals & Political Prisoners at Remote Villages Concentration Camp, Such as Be’ Linn,Twan-te’, etc and the Prisoners had to work very hard labor Jobs. Sometimes,Life & Death.
    I’m not surprised that Political Prisoners increased in September, this year. In addition, AAPP recorded the Cases of Farmers who are Facing Trial for Plowing Lands Confiscated by the Govt.and 149 Farmers who are Charged Under Sec.18 With Trespassing within 3 Months Period from June to August,2013. Wrongful Accusation. Farmers Who Lived in their Own Houses or Lands and Using their Own Properties are Falsely Accused of Trespassing.
    Thein Sein’s Govt is Not a Legitimate Govt. Majority Burmese Citizens didn’t Approved the 2008 Constitution.
    Hlut-Taw/Parliament is Infested by 25% of Shameless Military Personnel. And Who know more than 25% of Military are behind. Cunning, Crooked and No Intention to Leave( Unless Kick-Off ) Hlut-Taw.
    In Burmese Proverbs “Taking Shelter in the Shade,Breaking Off the Branches “( To Bite the hand that feeds it. ) People are the Benefactors, and Instead of Serving the People,The So-Called Govt is Troubling the People. The Govt assumed that they are Above the Law .
    Now ,Thein Sein’s Govt is “Digging a well on High Ground “. The Dream & Hope of the Burmese Citizens are Far Away from Reality.
    Who Could Dare to Sue this Illegitimate Govt Who are Doing Senseless thing to the Peace Loving Citizens ?

  2. Thank you,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Comments with external links in the body text will be deleted by moderators.