URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
MMR 002 / 0315 / OBS 021.1
Sentence / Arbitrary detention /
Burma / Myanmar
April 24, 2015
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Burma / Myanmar.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the arbitrary detention and sentencing of Mr. Thein Aung Myint, member of the Movement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF). MDCF is a community-based organisation that campaigns against land-grabbing and other human rights violations. Thein Aung Myint is a human rights defender who has been working to help communities to advocate for their rights, including land rights. He is also a former political prisoner. He was detained in 1994, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012 for his peaceful protest activities.
According to the information received, on April 23, 2015, a court in Mandalay’s Aung Myay Thar San Township sentenced Mr. Thein Aung Myint to six months in prison under Article 18 of the Act on the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession for participating in a peaceful protest on October 27, 2014, in Mandalay. The protest called for an investigation into the October 4, 2014, extrajudicial killing of journalist Aung Kyaw Naing, aka Par Gyi.
Although Mr. Thein Aung Myint had applied for permission from township authorities to hold the protest, authorities refused to grant it. In addition,
Mr. Thein Aung Myint was not present when the protest began, since it started while he was speaking with local authorities, who had called to inform him that they had rejected his protest application. He arrived at the site when the protest was close to its end.
Although about 200 people took part in the October 27 demonstration, Mr. Thein Aung Myint was the only person charged and held responsible as he initially filed the application for the protest. His colleague Mr. Aye Thein testified to the court that he [Aye Thein] had led the protest and offered to present photos of himself holding a bullhorn and leading protest chants.
Mr. Thein Aung Myint had already been sentenced on March 23, 2015, to six months in prison on the same legal grounds for leading a peaceful protest on March 27, 2014, against electricity price hikes (see background information). He is currently detained in Mandalay’s Oh Bo Prison.
The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Thein Aung Myint, which merely aim at sanctioning his peaceful human rights activities, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
The Observatory is further concerned about MDCF members being the targets of frequent judicial harassments and arbitrary imprisonments.
On March 23, 2015, a court in Mandalay’s Chan Aye Thar Zan Township sentenced MDCF members Messrs. Thein Aung Myint and Saw Hla Aung to six months in prison under Article 18 of the Act on the Right to Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession for leading a peaceful protest against electricity price hikes on March 27, 2014.
The court also sentenced two other people, Mr. Kyaw Myo Htun and Ms. Khet Khet Tin, to six months under the same law in connection with the March 27 protests, even though they were not involved in the demonstration. Mr. Kyaw Myo Htun only observed and applauded the protesters, while Ms. Khet Khet Tin, who is Mr. Thein Aung Myint's wife, was shopping in the area at the time the protest took place. When she saw that authorities were arresting her husband, she asked them not to use excessive force in the process. The four are currently detained in Mandalay’s Oh Bo Prison. Ms. Khet Khet Tin will appeal the sentence.
Mr. Thein Aung Myint had applied for permission from township authorities to hold the March 27 protest. However, authorities refused to grant permission on the grounds that Thein Aung Myint was not a resident of that township. About 100 people took part in the demonstration.
Please write to the authorities of Burma, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Thein Aung Myint, Saw Hla Aung and Kyaw Myo Htun and Ms. Khet Khet Tin, as well as of all human rights defenders in Burma;
ii. Release Messrs. Thein Aung Myint, Saw Hla Aung and Kyaw Myo Htun and Ms. Khet Khet Tin immediately and unconditionally as their detention is arbitrary and seems aimed at sanctioning their human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Burma;
iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its:
- Article 1, which stipulates that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 6(a), which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;
- Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and ratify international and regional human rights instruments.
· U Thein Sein, President of Myanmar, President Office, Office No.18, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: + 95 1 652 624
· Lt Gen Ko Ko, Minister for Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Office No. 10, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: +95 67 412 439
· U Win Mra, Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, 27 Pyay Road, Hline Township, Yangon, Republic of the Union of Myanmar; Fax: +95-1-659668
· Dr. Tun Shin, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Office No. 25, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106
· U Tun Tun Oo, Chief Justice, Office of the Supreme Court, Office No. 24, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: + 95 67 404 059
· U Kyaw Kyaw Htun, Director General, Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs, Office No. 10, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: +951 549 663 / 549 208
· H.E. Mr. Maung Wai, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue Blanc 47, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 732 89 19, +41 22 732 73 77, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Embassy of Myanmar in Brussels, Boulevard Général Wahis 9, 1030 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)32 2 705 50 48, Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Burma in your respective countries.