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Myanmar (Burma)
20.05.21
Urgent Interventions

Myanmar: Killing of poets Khet Thi and Sein Win and arbitrary detention of journalist Min Nyo

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

MMR 002 / 0521 / OBS 059
Killing /
Arbitrary detention /
Sentencing /
Torture and ill-treatment
Myanmar
May 20, 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 Khet Thi and Sein Win, two poets who have been critical of the military junta and publicly supported the ongoing pro-democracy protests, as well as the sentencing and arbitrary detention of Min Nyo, a journalist with the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB)[1] media outlet, who had been reporting on the pro-democracy protests.

On March 3, 2021, journalist Min Nyo was arrested and severely beaten by police while he was covering a pro-democracy protest in Pyay, Bago Region. During his detention, Mr. Nyo has had access to a lawyer but not to his relatives. On May 12, 2021, a military court in Pyay Prison found Min Nyo guilty of attempting to "hinder, disturb, damage the motivation, discipline, health and conduct" of soldiers and civil servants and “cause their hatred, disobedience or disloyalty toward the military and the government”, under Article 505-a of the Penal Code and sentenced him to three years in prison. He is currently detained at Pyay Prison, where he is at risks of being tortured, and said he would appeal the verdict.

On May 8, 2021, poet Khet Thi and his wife, Chaw Su, were taken from their home in Shwebo, Sagaing Region, by armed soldiers for questioning. Chaw Su was taken to the Swebo police station and was released the following day. Khet Thi was taken to an undisclosed location and remained detained overnight. On May 9, 2021, the authorities asked Chaw Su to meet her husband at the hospital in Monywa, Sagaing Region, where she found him dead, with apparent signs of torture on his body and some of his organs removed.

On May 14, 2021, poet Sein Win was collecting donations for those displaced by violence in a noodle factory in Monywa, when a man in civilian clothes poured gasoline on him and set him on fire. Despite being promptly taken to the Monywa General Hospital, Sein Win died of his injuries on the same day. The assailant was identified as Aung Ko. There has been no report of his arrest. As a prominent pro-democracy figure and long-time supporter of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Sein Win had actively taken part in the pro-democracy protests since the February 1 military coup, especially through charitable work among local communities.

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 illegal seizure of power and to call for an end to military rule. These peaceful protests have been met with a violent crackdown which has resulted in the death of more than 800 civilians and the detention of more than 5,000 people, with many detainees subjected to torture, ill-treatment, and/or enforced disappearance. 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 strongly condemns the killings of Khet Thi and Sein Win and expresses its utmost concern over the sentencing and arbitrary detention of Min Nyo, 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 killings of Khet Thi and Sein Win. The Observatory further urges the members of the military junta to immediately and unconditionally release Min Nyo, 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.

Actions requested:

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 Min Nyo and of all other human rights defenders in Myanmar;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Min Nyo as well as all other human rights defenders in Myanmar, as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities;

iii. Carry out thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into the killings of Khet Thi and Sein Win 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 Min Nyo 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.

Addresses:

  • Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services; Twitter: @CINCDS
  • H.E. Mr. Soe Lynn Han, Permanent Representative to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium; Email: mebrussels@skynet.be

Please write to international and regional organisations, asking them to:

i. Urge the members of the military junta to immediately and unconditionally release Min Nyo, as well as to guarantee his physical integrity and psychological well-being;

ii. Issue public statements condemning the killings of Khet Thi and Sein Win, the arbitrary detention of Min Nyo 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 on civil society, to observe an immediate ceasefire, and to work towards a non-violent transitional process in order to restore peace in Myanmar.

Addresses:

  • Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Twitter: @antonioguterres
  • Ms. Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Email: civilsociety@ohchr.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: public@asean.org, Twitter: @ASEAN

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Myanmar in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, May 20, 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

[1] The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) is an independent online and broadcast news agency in Myanmar. DVB has continued operating even though the military junta revoked its TV license and banned it from broadcasting on any platform on March 8, 2021.

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