Obstaclesto freedom of peaceful assembly /
Obstaclesto freedom of movement / Excessive use of force / Arbitrary arrests
March 12, 2015
TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Burma / Myanmar.
Descriptionof the situation:
TheObservatory has been informed of violent acts against student protesters andtheir leaders who are calling for amendments to theNational Education Law. Nationwide peaceful protestsled by the Action Committee for Democratic Education (ACDE), which includes theAll Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), began in November 2014.
On March 2,2015, police surrounded hundreds of student protesters at a monastery inLetpadan Township, Pegu Division, preventing them from continuing a march fromMandalay to Rangoon that began on January 20, 2015. An estimated 200 policeofficers manned barricades blocking the road.
The studentprotesters at Letpadan set a March 10, 2015, 10 AM deadline for authorities toallow the group to proceed by car to Rangoon. On March 10, 2015, the agreementbroke down when authorities refused to permit the student protesters to leaveas a group, wave banners or chant slogans. When students attempted to breakthrough police barricades, the police responded with force. Police officersattacked students, supporters, and journalists with batons, injuring anestimated 70 people. Police officers also attacked medical workers cartinginjured protesters into ambulances and smashed students' vehicles. Policearrested 127 people on the scene, including 20 women , among them Ms. PhyoePhyoe Aung, former political prisoner and All BurmaFederation of Student Unions Secretary. An estimated 65 werestudents. At the time of publication of this urgent appeal, a large group ofprotesters remained in detention.
Authoritiesused excessive force against student protesters in the days leading up to the10 March violence. On March 5, 2015, police and hired thugs used force to breakup a solidarity protest of more than 200 near Sule Pagoda in Rangoon, beatingprotesters with batons and dragging them into trucks. Police detained eightindividuals —five students and Ms. Nilar Thein, Ms. Nu Nu Aung,and Mr. Myo Thant of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, and heldthem overnight. On March 6, 2015, police and plainclothes men broke up a smalldemonstration in Letpadan near the protest site, detaining five more studentsand accosting a journalist in the process. All five were released the next day.
TheObservatory strongly condemns the disproportionate and unjustified use of forceagainst peaceful protesters, medical workers, and journalists and calls uponauthorities to end restrictions on protesters’ freedom of assembly and movementand to refrain from using force against them.
TheObservatory urges the Burmesa government to release unconditionally withoutdelas all those who were detained in Letpadan on March 10.
Proposedchanges to the National Education Law include: more autonomy for educationalinstitutions, an increase in the national education budget, and mother-tonguelanguage instruction. From November 14-17, 2014, the ACDE,comprising members of the ABFSU, the Confederation of University StudentUnions, and the University Student Union – Myay Latt held demonstrations inRangoon and other areas of Burma calling for a quadripartite meeting betweenthe ACDE, the National Network for Education Reform (NNER), the government, andParliament. Protests restarted in January, including a Mandalay to Rangoonmarch, after the government failed to respond within the 60-day period mandatedby the students.
In February,student protesters halted their protest march toward Rangoon, as multi-partytalks led to an 11-point agreement forwarded by the students and an amendedbill submitted to Parliament. Some student protesters restarted protests andvowed to continue until Parliament passed the agreed upon amendments.
Please writeto the authorities in Burma, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances thephysical and psychological integrity of all student protesters, as well as of all other human rights defendersin Burma;
ii. Release immediately andunconditionally all individuals detained on March 10, including Ms. Phyoe Phyoe Aung, as their detention isarbitrary and merely aimed at sanctioning their human rights activities;
iii. Put an immediate end to all acts ofpolice violence and police and judicial harassment against peaceful protesters;
iv. Comply with all the provisions ofthe United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular withits:
- Article 1, which provides that“everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, topromote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights andfundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 12.1, which foresees that“everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, toparticipate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights andfundamental freedoms”;
- Article 12.2, which provides that“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by thecompetent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others,against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adversediscrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of hisor her legitimate exercise of the rights referred toin the present Declaration”;
· U Thein Sein, Presidentof Myanmar, President Office, Office No.18, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: + 95 1 652624
· Lt. Gen Ko Ko, Ministerfor Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Office No. 10, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR;Fax: +95 67 412 439
· U Win Mra, Chairman ofthe Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, 27 Pyay Road, Hline Township,Yangon, Republic of the Union of Myanmar; Fax: +95 1 659 668
· Dr. Tun Shin, AttorneyGeneral, Office of the Attorney General, Office No. 25, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR;Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106
· U Tun Tun Oo, ChiefJustice, 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 theUnited Nations in Geneva, Avenue Blanc 47, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +4122 732 89 19, +41 22 732 73 77, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Embassy of Myanmar inBrussels, Boulevard Général Wahis 9, 1030 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)32 2705 50 48, Email: email@example.com
Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Burma in your respectivecountries.