173 political prisoners remain incarcerated

ASEAN+ April 22, 2015 01:00

By Myanmar Eleven

A total of 92 political activists were charged in March, 31 of which were arrested. 7 were sentenced, and 3 were released, according to data compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

At the end of the month, 173 political prisoners remain incarcerated in the country, with 316 activists currently awaiting trial for political actions, AAPP said in its monthly report released earlier this month. 
"The government continues to disregard its responsibility to adhere to international human rights standards, and instead violates the rights of its citizens, oppresses media, and violently cracks down on any form of dissent or opposition," it said.
Among those incarcerated in March was Zaw Myint, who staged a solo protest calling for a solution to the political situation including four party talks in Nay Pyi Taw on September 21, 2014. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment on March 5, 2015. 
According to AAPP, Zaw Myint said that even though the other township authorities did not indict him, he was still charged in Nay Pyi Taw because he was not permitted to stage a solo protest in the council area or President Area. He was sent to Yemethin prison. 
Among those released was an 88-year woman, Tin Hlaing, resident of Lalway Township in Nay Pyi Taw. She was declared a trespasser by Nay Pyi Taw City Development Committee and was sentenced to one month imprisonment under Section 26 of City Development Committee Act on February 27, 2015. On March 26, around noon, she was freed from Yamethin prison as her sentence is finished.
In March, thousands of garment workers from Red Stone, Costec, E Land Myanmar, and Ford Glory factories in Yangon’s industrial zone have been striking against factory conditions and for better pay. Following violent action by police on March 5, 21 more protesters face charges for rioting and allegedly instigating the protests and face up to two years in prison if convicted. Two reporters were also arrested but freed shortly after. 
The student protests against the New Education Law, which centralises power with the government rather than the universities, led to a violent crackdown on March 10. Following the crackdown, 133 were arrested and 70 are still detained and 63 were released. 
On a related development, the Human Rights Abuse Investigation Committee (HRAIC), formed by various political groups, has finished a report on 40 human rights victims under military rule. 
The process began on March 24 with the HRAIC recording about 100 monks and political prisoners who were unfairly arrested and imprisoned by the military State Law and Order Restoration and State Peace and Development councils. Some died at the hands of the junta.
“We interviewed those who are still alive and recorded the abuses. We compiled the main parts of the human rights abuses they experienced,” David Hla Myint, the secretary of the HRAIC, said.
“Now additional victims will have to be sought from regions and states. We will try to produce a book on victims to allow the public to know what happened,” he said.
Several political groups formed the HRAIC, which is led by the United National Democracy Organisation, on January 16. It aims to record human rights abuses and prevent future violations. 
Revealing the violation of human rights under military rule would not disrupt the move towards national reconciliation, David Hla Myint said.
The committee was formed by monks from the 2007 Saffron Revolution, ethnic leaders, candidates from the 1990 election, members of the 8888 uprising (marking the August 8, 1988 protest), student leaders, legal experts, politicians who witnessed the 1962 coup, prisoners from the Coco Islands, union leaders, members of the Sayagyi Thakhin Ko Daw Hmine peace network and victims of the 1974 U Thant unrest, where the military refused to give the former UN secretary general a state funeral.

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