Burma

UN Demands Release of All Political Prisoners in Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 2 July 2021

The United Nations has repeated its call for the release of all political prisoners in Myanmar, including President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, following the regime’s prison release this week.

The regime on Wednesday released 2,296 people, including journalists, who were largely detained at anti-regime protests from February to June. Many of them were charged with incitement.

The regime had detained 6,421 people by Tuesday, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) human rights group. Despite the release on Wednesday, more than 4,000 political prisoners remain in detention, including National League for Democracy (NLD) MPs, protest leaders and striking government employees.

Eri Kaneko, a spokeswoman for the UN secretary-general, said on Thursday the UN was aware of the releases and remained deeply concerned at the continued violence and intimidation, including arbitrary arrests by the security forces.

“We reiterate our call for the immediate release of all of those arbitrarily detained and that includes President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” she said.

The junta’s arrests continue, forcing thousands of activists, politicians and striking government employees into hiding.

“This illegitimate junta is not making positive changes, it is only trying to make the case to be given credentials at the UN in September,” said the AAPP after Wednesday’s releases.

“They were arrested unfairly. If the release is really aimed at actual reform, all the detainees, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, must be released. Violence must end and those who committed torture and murder must be brought to justice,” said AAPP joint secretary U Bo Kyi.

The international community must not view the release as a relaxation in junta’s repression, said the AAPP. It called for practical pressure on the regime to stop violence and release all political prisoners.

“People are overwhelmed by fear in Myanmar and [the release of prisoners] is like moving from a small prison into a big one. They are not free though they are freed. What’s more, their releases are conditional,” said U Aung Myo Min, the human rights affairs minister in the shadow, civilian National Unity Government (NUG).

The NUG was formed by the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a body formed mainly by elected NLD lawmakers from the 2020 general election.

The regime has declared the CRPH and NUG to be unlawful associations and terrorist organizations and labeled their supporters as terrorists.

Since the coup, the military regime has targeted NLD members, striking government employees, including doctors, journalists and activists to suppress the anti-regime movement. Dozens have been tortured to death in military custody.

Some detainees were badly injured during interrogation and are facing incitement charges inside prison, according to their relatives and those who were freed.

According to the AAPP, 884 people died in junta crackdowns from February to June 30.


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