Myanmar (Burma)
08.11.17
Urgent Interventions

Murder of Mr. Htay Aung, a land rights defender in Nawnghkio township

MMR 003 / 1117 / OBS 110MurderBurmaNovember 8, 2017
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Burma.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the murder of Mr. Htay Aung, a land rights defender and focal person of the Federation of National Peasant Union (FNPU) and the Investigating Committee for Violations of Human Rights [1] in Nawnghkio township, northern Shan State.

According to the information received, on October 28, 2017, Mr. Htay Aung was beaten to death by a mob of about 20 people in Iwine Parhe village, Nawnghkio township, Shan State. On November 1, 2017, he died of the injuries sustained in the attack at Mandalay hospital.

On October 28, 2017, a village administrator from Iwine Parhe village had informed Mr. Htay Aung, along with fellow FNPU members, that there would be an inspection of confiscated land in the area.[2] On November 1, 2017, Mr. Htay Aung went to the area of land where the inspection was to take place in Iwine Parhe village and was repeatedly punched and beaten with bamboo sticks by about 20 villagers.

On October 28, 2017, three people were arrested and detained for questioning at Nawnghkio police station in connection with Mr. Htay Aung’s murder but were released on the same day. A police investigation was ongoing at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal.

According to FNPU, the disputed land originally belonged to resident of Lwine Parhe village. In 1989-90, it was confiscated by a Korean Company and later by government authorities and the Tatmadaw (Burma army). Later, the disputed land was re-allocated to Palaung ethnic villagers from Palaung Gone village who had moved to the area. Mr. Htay Aung was helping Lwine Parhe villagers to seek the return of the land from the Palaung Gone villagers.

Earlier in October, Mr. Htay Aung had sent a letter to the Central Review Committee on Confiscated Farmlands and Other Lands, the National Assembly, the People’s Assembly, and the Shan State Chief Minister, calling on them to return the confiscated land to the original owners.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the murder of Mr. Htay Aung and urges the Burmese authorities to carry out a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into Mr. Htay Aung’s murder without undue delay and to hold those responsible accountable.

The Observatory expresses its concern over ongoing deadly attacks against human rights defenders, including land rights defenders, in Burma.[3] The Observatory reiterates its call for the authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in the country.

Actions requested:


Please write to the Burmese authorities asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Burma;

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the murder of Mr. Htay Aung in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Burma, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance ;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.

Addresses:
  • U Htin Kyaw, President; Fax: +95 1 652 624
  • Lt Gen Kyaw Swe, Minister for Home Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412 439; Email: mohamyanmar@gmail.com
  • Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412396
  • U Win Mra, Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission; Email: chmyanmarnhrc@gmail.com
  • U Tun Tun Oo, Attorney General; Email: ago.h.o@mptmail.net.mm
  • Maj Gen Zaw Win, Director General, Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412006; Email: mpfserver@gmail.com
  • HE U Htin Lynn, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Fax: +41 22 732 89 19, +41 22 732 73 77; Email: mission@myanmargeneva.org
  • Embassy of Myanmar in Brussels, Belgium; Fax: +32 2 705 50 48, Email: mebrussels@skynet.be
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Burma in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, November 8, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals[at]fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] FNPU and the Investigating Committee for Violations of Human Rights are two grassroots civil society organisations focusing on human rights issues, including abuses involving land confiscation.
[2] Village administrators are members of Land Management Committees under the authority of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation. Mr. Htay Aung was invited to conduct an inspection of disputed land area after he had filed complaints and appeals to the Land Management Committee.
[3] See in particular Observatory Urgent Appeals MMR 002 / 0614 / OBS 053 published on June 12, 2014; MMR 001 / 1216 / OBS 108 published on December 15, 2016; MMR 002 / 1216 / OBS 109 published on December 16, 2016; and Press Release “Investigate murder of lawyer Ko Ni, take measures to protect human rights defenders” published on January 30, 2017.
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