Myanmar Activists Launch Blue-Shirt Campaign to Demand Freedom for Detainees

By The Irrawaddy 21 April 2021

A blue-shirt campaign has been launched in Myanmar on Wednesday to call for the release of 3,300 detainees held by the junta.

In the latest campaign against the military regime, blue-shirted protesters posted photos with a raised hand displaying the name of a detainee abducted since the Feb. 1 coup.

The blue shirts commemorate the renowned pro-democracy activist and journalist U Win Tin who spent 19 years in prison for his opposition to the former military regime. He died on April 21, 2014. U Win Tin kept his blue prison shirt after his release and pledged to wear a blue shirt every day until all political prisoners were released. He wore the color until his death.

“As long as political prisoners are not released, we all are prisoners. In other words, the concept is that we all are with you,” read photos on social media.

The campaigners also called for those beaten and taken to military interrogation centers to be given medical treatment and to receive visits from their families and a lawyer.

On April 15, the regime’s forces rammed the motorbike of Ko Wai Moe Naing, a prominent protest leader in Monywa, Sagaing Region, who was leading a motorbike rally. He was then detained.

One day after his detention, a picture of his severely beaten face went viral online. His mother told The Irrawaddy that she is extremely worried about him as he has been held for a week.

Four former student union members were violently abducted on April 17 in Ahlone Township, Yangon Region, and taken for military interrogation. The Alliance of Student Unions in Yangon stated on Wednesday that Ko Soe Htet Oo, one of the four, is reportedly in poor health after severe beatings, calling for families and lawyers to be allowed to visit and for them to receive health care.

Six protesters, including two females, who were detained in Yankin Township in Yangon, appeared to have been severely tortured, with bruised and bloody faces, in pictures aired on the junta’s-controlled television. The junta accused them of carrying out bombings in the township on Saturday.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which tracks detentions, said on Monday that the junta is using its media to scare other protesters.

“Medical treatment is urgently needed. The consequences of these interrogations by the junta is extremely worrying,” it added.

Pro-democracy rallies have been held across the country since early February following the coup. The junta has responded with brutal force, killing at least 738 civilians, including more than 40 children, and making arbitrary arrests.

According to the AAPP, among 3,300 detainees, 76 have been sentenced. The junta has also issued 1,020 arrest warrants.

Among the junta’s prisoners are elected leaders, including State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, lawmakers, members of the National League for Democracy, activists, doctors, striking civil servants in the civil disobedience movement, writers, poets, monks, artists, celebrities and journalists.

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