International Campaign for Freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Weekly Highlights: Political Prisoners Need Not Be Forgotten

 

23 - 29 May 2016

Weekly Highlights
 

Political Prisoners Need Not Be Forgotten
 

On 25 May, 2016, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) and the Former Political Prisoners Society (FPPS) released a joint-report entitled "'After release I had to restart my life from the beginning': The experiences of ex-political prisoners in Burma and challenges to reintegration". Based on information provided by 1,621 former political prisoners, the report exposes the mistreatment and abuse – including the use of torture – that has proliferated Burma's prison system.

AAPP and FPPS illuminate how Burma's judicial system has been consistently used to silence political dissidents, including through draconian and oppressive legislation such as the Emergency Provisions Act (1950) and the Unlawful Associations Act (1908). Further, the report documents the widespread use of torture – which runs counter to customary international law, as evidenced in legal instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – as a means of interrogating, humiliating and degrading political prisoners. Forcing prisoners into uncomfortable stress positions for extended periods of time, the "Iron Road" tactic of "rolling an iron bar or bamboo rod up and down the shins with increasing pressure until the detainee's skin peels off," and attacks on a prisoner's psychological state through sleep or sensory deprivation constitute only a small portion of the extensive portfolio of torture methods used against political prisoners. Torture was not the only form of abuse; political prisoners were also subjected to poor sanitation and physical conditions inside prisons, inadequate access to food, water and healthcare, and in certain cases, sentenced to hard labor or solitary confinement as a punishment.

The suffering faced by political prisoners during their incarceration continues even after their release. According to the report, case studies involving forced exile, travel restrictions and limited educational and employment opportunities are only a few of the barriers to full reintegration for former political prisoners. In addition, reparation programs have yet to be organized by the Burma Government, leaving the void to be filled by civil society organizations such as AAPP or the U Win Tin Foundation.

Recent reports on the mistreatment of detained student activists and their supporters from the 2015 Letpadan protests, including the denial of medical care and beatings, is a grim reminder of the need to address Burma's policy of detention for political prisoners and the conditions of its prison system. Despite an earlier promise from former President Thein Sein that all political prisoners would be released by the end of 2013, the rate of detained political activists was observed increasing as recent as January 2016. This led Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch to state that, "Burma's growing number of political prisoners is the most glaring indictment of President Thein Sein's human rights record."

While the current National League for Democracy (NLD)-led Government has promised to cease imprisoning political activists, there is still significant room for improvement. Immediately after formally stepping into office, the NLD-led Government released 113 political prisoners, including 69 students who were involved in the March 2015 education protests. However, political activists continue to be detained and sentenced on arbitrary charges. In recent news, factory workers were arrested for protesting labor rights as they marched towards Naypyidaw. Similarly, Maung Saung Kha was recently sentenced to six months in jail (though he will walk free as a result of having served his time in prison prior to the sentencing) for having released a poem defaming former President Thein Sein. According to AAPP, there are still 64 political prisoners behind bars and another 174 awaiting trial.

Echoing the first recommendation from AAPP and FPPS's report, the new NLD-led Government must recognize political prisoners as such and release them without hesitation. Committing to a democratic reform of government means that democratic principles – namely freedom of expression and assembly – are respected. Individuals arrested on baseless, politically motivated and oppressive charges for demonstrating their right to speak out or criticizing the government must be protected. The NLD-led Government should therefore heed the criticism observed by AAPP and FPPS and release all remaining political prisoners and drop charges against those awaiting trial without further ado. In addition, the NLD-led Government should immediately amend or appeal all oppressive laws, ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and implement prison reform in compliance with international human rights standards.

 

Latest from the Blog

Burma Government Must Heed US Stance on Rohingya

By Burma Partnership

Actions

In Hpakant Township, Kachin State, approximately 40 villagers launch a protest calling for officials to close down a gold mining operation near Uru Creek which is owned by a local businessman

Police continue to bring charges under the Peaceful Assembly Law against peaceful protesters  including Nay Lin Soe, who was arrested outside Mandalay  for peacefully marching from Rangoon to protest the controversial Letpadaung copper mine

Statements and Press Releases      

AAPP and FPPS launch report entitled "After Release I Had to Restart My Life from the Beginning"

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners and Former Political Prisoners Society

Open letter to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi regarding plans by Norway's SN Power to build the Middle Yeywa Dam on the Namtu River
By Action for Shan State Rivers

NLD-led Government Must Abide by UN Ruling to Release Lahpai Gam
By Burma Campaign UK

Battlefields to refuge: the Salween Peace Park in Burma's Karen State
By Karen Environmental and Social Action Network

Mae Tao Clinic's New Facilities to Continue Providing Healthcare Services to the Displaced and Migrant Community of Burma
By Mae Tao Clinic

Koh Tao Murder Case Legal Defense Team and Accused's Mothers Today Submit 200 Page Death Sentence Conviction Appeal to Koh Samui Court
By Migrant Workers Rights Network

Statement of PSLF/TNLA Requesting Sanghas, Elders and People for Avoiding Racial Conflict
By Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF/TNLA)

Reports

"After release I had to restart my life from the beginning" The Experiences of Ex-political Prisoners in Burma and Challenges to Reintegration

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners and Former Political Prisoners Society

Contact Us | Privacy Policy
© Burma Partnership

Visit us at the following social networking sites.       

             

 



This message was sent to icfab8888.peacefulway@blogger.com from:

Burma Partnership | info@burmapartnership.org | Burma Partnership | http://www.burmapartnership.org | Muang, Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand

Email Marketing by iContact - Try It Free!

No comments:

As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,

As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi proclaimed,
"Justice is a dream. But it is a dream we are determined to realize."