12 July 2012
BURMA: RELEASE ALL
REMAINING POLITICAL PRISONERS NOW AND RESPECT CIVIL AND POLITICAL
Paris-Bangkok, 12 July 2012.
The Burmese authorities should immediately and unconditionally
release all remaining political prisoners and fully respect
the civil and political rights of the Burmese people, including
former political prisoners, said the International Federation
for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organization, the Alternative
ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma). In her Nobel Peace Prize
acceptance speech in Norway in June, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also
appealed for the earliest, unconditional release of all remaining
Between May 2011 and July 2012,
about 660 political prisoners have been released in five amnesties.
The latest amnesty took place on 3 July when 25 of the 80 detainees
released were political prisoners, including student activists
and members of ethnic opposition groups. On 4 July, the Assistance
Association for Political Prisoners-Burma said that there were
still at least 441 political prisoners in the country.
Following the January 2012
amnesty, FIDH and Altsean-Burma received reports of harassment
of released prisoners and restrictions on their freedom of movement.
That amnesty also came with a draconian condition under Section
401 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that released
prisoners can be re-arrested and ordered to serve the remainder
of their original sentence for any violation of existing laws.
The 3 July amnesty was immediately
overshadowed by the detention of more than 20 student activists
in Rangoon and several other locations across the country on
6 July, some of whom were former detainees released in the January
2012 amnesty. The crackdown took place a day before planned
commemorations of the 50th anniversary of a brutal military
crackdown on students in 1962 in Rangoon. There were warnings
and intimidation by the authorities in the days before the anniversary.
A police commander in Mandalay Division summoned members of
the All Burma Federation of Students’ Union (ABFSU) and
reportedly warned them not to “dig up the past”
and that holding the planned commemoration would be against
Despite the arrests, on 7 July
the 88 Generation Students group held a ceremony to commemorate
the anniversary of the crackdown at their office in Rangoon.
Police took photograph and checked the identifications of those
attending the ceremony, although they allowed the event to proceed.
The detained activists were all released on 7 July.
community should take stronger measures to press for the unconditional
release of the remaining political prisoners, the repeal of
repressive laws under which they were convicted, and the necessary
institutional reforms that would provide for the full protection
of civil and political rights of everyone without discrimination,”
urged Debbie Stothard, FIDH’s Deputy Secretary-General
and the Coordinator of Altsean-Burma.
On 10 July, authorities in
Pegu refused to grant permission to members of the National
League for Democracy (NLD) to hold a public commemoration on
Martyrs’ Day on 19 July. Subsequent requests to hold it
at different locations were also denied. The authorities reportedly
told the NLD that permission was not granted because laying
wreathes in the town’s centre would be “a bad omen.”
“The continued detention
of those sentenced on politically motivated charges and the
ongoing arbitrary restrictions on the constitutional right to
assemble peacefully, as well as harassment against those exercising
this right, underscore the government’s long-standing
failure to comply with international human rights standards,
which betrays its supposed reformist intention,”
said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president.
Manet + 33 1 43 55 14 12 / + 33 1 43 55 25 18 (in Paris) and
Shiwei Ye +66 89 673 5265 (in Bangkok)
Altsean-Burma: Debbie Stothard, +66 81 686