MMR 001 / 0421 / OBS 051
Arbitrary detention /
At risk of torture
April 23, 2021
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 Myanmar.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed about the killing of Ah Khu, director of the civil society group Women for Justice, as well as the arbitrary detention of Thin Thin Aung and Myo Aye. Thin Thin Aung is the co-founder of Women for Justice, leading member of Women's League of Burma, and co-founder of the independent Mizzima News outlet. Myo Aye is a labour rights activist and director of the Solidarity Trade Union of Myanmar (STUM).
On March 28, 2021, Ah Khu was fatally shot in the chest by the military junta’s security forces during a peaceful anti-coup protest in Kale Township, Sagaing Region.
On April 8, 2021, Thin Thin Aung was arbitrarily arrested in Yangon’s Botahtaung Township, and taken to the Yay Kyi Ai military interrogation centre in Yangon’s Insein Township. On April 9, 2021, military security forces raided her apartment in Yangon and seized her belongings, including her computers.
On April 15, 2021, Myo Aye was arrested at her office in Yangon’s Shwepyithar Township by around 40 members of the military junta’s security forces. Myo Aye was then taken to a police station for interrogation.
At the time of the publication of this Urgent Appeal, Thin Thin Aung and Myo Aye remain detained in undisclosed locations and the charges pressed against them are unknown. The Observatory expresses grave concern over the high risk of torture Mses. Aung and Aye are facing during their detention.
The Observatory recalls that since the military coup of February 1, 2021, thousands of people have been gathering across the country daily to peacefully protest the military’s seizure of power and to call for an end to the military dictatorship. These peaceful protests have been met with a violent crackdown which has resulted in the death of more than 700 civilians and the detention of more than 3,000 people. Human rights defenders, civil society organisations, and journalists who have been documenting and reporting on human rights violations by the military junta have been particularly targeted. Among them, women human rights defenders, particularly those with international advocacy experience, are especially at risk of being arbitrarily arrested, detained or killed.
The Observatory further recalls that prior to the military coup, Women for Justice had been harassed and subjected to constant surveillance by the authorities for opposing military impunity for sexual violence and general discrimination against women.
The Observatory strongly condemns the killing of Ah Khu and expresses its utmost concern over the arbitrary detention of Thin Thin Aung and Myo Aye, which seem to be aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights work.
The Observatory calls on the members of the military junta to carry out a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the killing of Ah Khu. The Observatory further urges the members of the military junta to immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of Thin Thin Aung and Myo Aye and to immediately and unconditionally release them, as well as all other human rights defenders and peaceful protesters arbitrarily detained in the country and to put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them.
Please write to the members of the military junta asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Thin Thin Aung, Myo Aye and of all other human rights defenders in Myanmar;
ii. Immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of Thin Thin Aung and Myo Aye, and to immediately and unconditionally release them as well as all other human rights defenders in Myanmar, as their detention is arbitrary since it only aims at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities;
iii. Carry out a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the killing of Ah Khu in order to bring all those responsible before a competent tribunal in accordance with international standards;
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Thin Thin Aung, Myo Aye and all other human rights defenders in Myanmar, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance and fear of reprisals.
- Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services; Twitter: @CINCDS
- H.E. Mr. Myint Thu, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- H.E. Mr. Soe Lynn Han, Permanent Representative to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium; Email: email@example.com
Please write to international and regional organisations, asking them to:
i. Urge the members of the military junta to immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of Thin Thin Aung and Myo Aye and to immediately and unconditionally release them, as well as to guarantee their physical integrity and psychological well-being;
ii. Issue public statements condemning the killing of Ah Khu, the arbitrary detention of Thin Thin Aung and Myo Aye and, more generally, the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society activists in Myanmar;
iii. Urge the members of the military junta, bilaterally and in multilateral fora, to halt the ongoing crackdown against civil society, to observe an immediate ceasefire, and to work towards a non-violent transitional process in order to restore peace in Myanmar.
- Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Twitter: @antonioguterres
- Ms. Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @mbachelet
- Ms. Christine Schraner Burgener, United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Myanmar, Twitter: @SchranerBurgen1
- Mr. Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of the Association of South East Asian Nations, Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @ASEAN
- Mr. Josep Borrell, European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JosepBorrellF
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Myanmar in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, April 23, 2021
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 FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18
- Tel OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39
 Women for Justice is a civil society group that works to promote and defend women’s human rights. The organisation is based in Kale in Sagaing Region, close to the Myanmar-India border.
 Women’s League of Burma is an organisation created in 1999 with the aim of increasing the participation of women in the struggle for democracy and human rights, promoting women’s participation in the national peace and reconciliation process, and enhancing the role of the women of Burma at the national and international level.
 Mizzima News is an independent media outlet founded in 1998, which aims at providing news, including human rights-related information, while contributing toward freedom of expression and the realization of an inclusive and democratic country.