Despite President Thein Sein’s
pledge to release all dissidents
by the end of 2013, dozens of political
prisoners remain behind bars. Below
are the profiles of prominent political
prisoners who are serving lengthy
prison terms or have been jailed
because of their activities relating
to the promotion and protection
of human rights.
a human rights defender who leads the community-based
organization Movement for Democracy Current
Force (MDCF), has been repeatedly arrested
and jailed for peaceful political activism.
On 30 October
2014, Rangoon’s Kyauktada Township
Court sentenced him to two years in prison
under Article 505(b) of the Criminal Code,
his 16th sentence since 2012. The charges
stemmed from the 7 July distribution of
MDCF leaflets which stated that opposition
politicians had formed an interim government.
Since 4 June, he has received 14 sentences
under Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering
and Demonstration Law and Article 505(b)
of the Criminal Code in connection with
peaceful protest activities, totaling 13
years and four months. He still faces trials
in at least one court in Rangoon. He is
being held in Rangoon’s Insein Prison.
was first detained in 2007 for leading demonstrations
calling for improved health care and education,
lower prices for basic food commodities,
and religious freedom. On 17 November 2008,
he was sentenced to 12 years and six months
in prison and then released under an amnesty
in January 2012. He continued his activism
and was re-arrested on 2 August 2013 for
organizing protests against land grabs.
In October and November 2013, courts in
various jurisdictions sentenced him to at
least 33 months in jail.
2013, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention determined that his detention
was arbitrary and urged the government to
release him. On 11 December 2013, he was
released under a presidential amnesty but
authorities re-arrested him the same day
on sedition charges. He was eventually released
under another presidential amnesty on 31
in Rangoon arrested Htin Kyaw again on 5
May 2014 for leading one of a series of
protests between February 2014 and May 2014.
During these protests, participants distributed
leaflets critical of the government and
called on members of parliament to resign.
Since 24 June, ten different township courts
in Rangoon have sentenced Htin Kyaw to a
total of ten years and six months in prison
under Article 505(b) of the Criminal Code
for his involvement in the protests.
On 4 June
2014, he received a three-month sentence
under Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering
and Demonstration Law from Rangoon’s
Kyauktada Township Court for protesting
forced evictions in Hlegu Township. On 9
July, the Rangoon’s Bahan Township
Court sentenced him to an additional three
months in prison under Article 18 of the
Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law.
Authorities contended his attempt to meet
with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss a land
eviction case constituted an unauthorized
|Htun Htun Oo
Htun Htun Oo is a Human Rights Watch and Defender Network (HRWDN) member who has been jailed for his environmental activism in the Irrawaddy Delta. He is currently serving a six-month prison sentence on three separate charges under Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law. He still faces charges under Article 19 of the same law for another peaceful protest. He also faces charges under Articles 427 and 447 of the Criminal Code and Article 6/1 of the Public Property Protection Act for activities related to planting mangrove trees in the Irrawaddy Delta. He is currently being held in Pyapon Prison, Irrawaddy Division.
Htun Htun Oo was detained frequently for his political activities during the 1988 popular uprising. He began his work with HRWDN, including activities supporting communities against land confiscation in Dedaye Township, Irrawaddy Division, following Burma’s April 2012 by-elections.
On 10-11 March 2014, Htun Htun Oo gave talks on environmental protection to villagers in Dedaye Township, Irrawaddy Division. The talks explained the value of planting mangrove trees in the region, which experienced coastal erosion and was one of the areas worst hit by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008. On 12 March 2014, local authorities charged Htun Htun Oo under Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law for these activities, along with associates Khin Shwe and Cho Lwin.
Beginning on 12 May 2014, Htun Htun Oo led a group of local villagers in the planting of more than 90,000 mangroves in a pasture in Dedaye Township. On 18 May, authorities charged Htun Htun Oo, Khin Shwe, Cho Lwin, and Myint Lwin under Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law for this activity. On 2 July 2014, Htun Htun Oo was also charged under Article 447 of the Criminal Code for trespassing, along with 12 residents, for trespassing on Kyone-Kanet grazing ground, where the mangrove trees were planted. Thirty more residents were also charged with one count of trespassing under Article 447.
On 5 August 2014, Htun Htun Oo was also charged under Article 427 of the Criminal Code for allegedly destroying paddy fields.
In the first week of July 2014, Htun Htun Oo and residents planted more than 70,000 mangrove trees in Dedaye Township, which authorities destroyed several days later. On 9 July, authorities charged Htun Htun Oo and 11 others, including Khin Shwe, Cho Lwin, Myint Lwin, Maung Myo, Daw Hla Yee and Win Shwe, under Article 6/1 of the Public Property Protection Act for allegedly destroying state-owned crops on grazing land while planting mangroves.
On 16 July 2014, authorities in Bassein (Pathein) Township, Irrawaddy Division, charged him under Article 19 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law for a protest on 1 July against the detention of former Religious Affairs Minister San Sint. San Sint had built a strong base of support in his previous role as Speaker of Irrawaddy Division Parliament, in particular for his efforts in addressing land disputes in 2011 and 2012.
In July 2014, Htun Htun Oo also demonstrated in Dedaye Township, Irrawaddy Division, against the authorities’ failure to return confiscated grazing land to farmers. Later that month, this protest brought the latest charge under Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law.
On 29 August 2014, Htun Htun Oo was detained in Pyapon Prison, Irrawaddy Division.
On 23 September 2014, a court in Dedaye Township, Irrawaddy Division, sentenced Htun Htun Oo to two months in prison for each of the three charges under Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law.
On the same day, the court also sentenced Htun Htun Oo’s associates Cho Lwin and Khin Shwe to two months in prison under Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law for participating in environmental activities on 10-11 March and a two-month sentence for planting mangrove trees in May. Myint Lwin received a two-month sentence under Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration Law for planting mangrove trees on 12 May.
Hnin Htwe is a political activist
and a member of the All Burma Federation
of Student Unions (ABFSU). Phyu Hnin
Htwe is currently on trial at Yinmabin
District Court in Sagaing Division
on fabricated charges of kidnapping
under Articles 364 and 368 of the
Criminal Code for her alleged involvement
in the abduction of two Chinese workers
near the Letpadaung copper mine near
Hsete Village, Salingyi Township,
Sagaing Division. If convicted, she
could face up to 10 years in prison.
She is currently being held in Monywa
Hnin Htwe is a former youth member
of the National League for Democracy
(NLD). Since 2010, she has participated
in demonstrations focusing on issues
such as land rights. From August to
December 2012, as an ABFSU member,
Phyu Hnin Htwe became involved in
community protests against the Letpadaung
copper mine, a joint venture between
China’s Wanbao company and Burma’s
military-backed Union of Myanmar Economic
December 2012, she repeatedly visited
two villages in the area affected
by the Letpadaung copper mine, Tone
and Hsete, to work as a volunteer
teacher for children on weekends.
She also remained engaged in the community’s
land rights activities by attending
demonstrations and publishing information
on social media related to the Letpadaung
copper mine’s impacts and villagers’
activities in opposition to the project.
18 May 2014, villagers near the Letpadaung
copper mine detained one Burmese and
two Chinese Wanbao employees because
they suspected the workers were planning
to fence in recently seized lands.
The villagers released the Burmese
worker the same day but held the two
Chinese workers for about 30 hours
in Hsete Village.
18 May, Phyu Hnin Htwe was in Hsete
Village in her capacity as a volunteer
teacher. When she heard about the
situation involving the Wanbao employees,
she visited the monastery where they
were being held. She had not been
involved in the kidnapping.
21 May, authorities requested seven
people appear in court to face abduction
charges. Phyu Hnin Htwe and a local
villager, Win Kyaw, were among those
charged, but they did not appear in
court. On 22 May, Yinmabin District
Court tried and then pardoned the
five defendants present.
On 13 September,
police arrested Phyu Hnin Htwe at her home
in Patheingyi, Mandalay Division, and brought
her to Monywa Prison. Authorities held her
incommunicado until a 15 September court
appearance, where she did not have a lawyer
present. On 30 September, a judge at the
Yinmabin District Court denied a bail request
filed by her lawyer. On 15 October 2014,
all charges against Phyu Hnin Htwe were
dropped and she was released from Monywa
Aung, a prominent Rohingya human rights
defender, is currently serving an 18-month
prison sentence on trumped-up charges of
rioting. He is incarcerated in Sittwe Prison,
Kyaw Hla Aung was imprisoned for two years
for writing an appeal to the authorities
on behalf of local farmers whose land had
been confiscated. In 1990, he was arrested
during a crackdown on Rohingya activists
and spent the next 10 years in jail. In
June 2012, government authorities detained
him, along with several other Rohingya aid
workers, for his alleged involvement in
the sectarian unrest that hit Arakan State.
He was released in August 2012.
On 15 July
2013, authorities in Sittwe Township arrested
Kyaw Hla Aung in connection with a protest
by internally displaced Rohingya against
attempts by the government to register them
as ‘Bengali’ in April 2013.
Clashes between Rohingya IDPs and immigration
officials during the protests at Thetkalpyin
IDP camp in Sittwe Township forced the authorities
to suspend the registration process. However,
Kyaw Hla Aung was not present during the
protests and, in fact, had tried to contact
camp leaders in order to advise them to
keep the protests peaceful. On 26 September
2014, the Sittwe District Court sentenced
Kyaw Hla Aung to one year and six months
in prison on charges of rioting in connection
with the April 2013 protest.
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in
Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana, who repeatedly
called for Kyaw Hla Aung’s release,
described him as a prisoner of conscience
and said his detention was arbitrary. Kyaw
Hla Aung suffers from hypertension and stomach
problems that require regular medication. Kyaw Hla Aung was released in an amnesty on 7 October 2014.
is a Rohingya human rights defender and community
leader from Arakan State. He is currently
serving a 17-year prison sentence on trumped
up charges related to his efforts to prevent
violence between Buddhists and Muslims in
Arakan State during the June 2012 sectarian
unrest. Presidential amnesties have reduced
his overall sentence. However, Tun Aung still
has more than a year of his jail term remaining.
worked with local leaders in the days leading
up to the violence to negotiate between government
officials and members of the Muslim community.
A local MP called Tun Aung to assist authorities
in calming the crowds. However, he was later
detained and accused of provoking the violence
and publishing information abroad about it.
Prior to trial, he was denied family visits,
was not allowed to appoint his own lawyer,
and was denied private meetings with his court-appointed
2012, a court in Sittwe, Arakan State, sentenced
him to 11 years in prison on a number of charges,
including under the Myanmar Wireless Telegraphy
Act and Article 24(1) of the Foreign Exchange
Regulation Act. Following an appeal by the prosecution that his sentence was too lenient,
the court added an additional six years. Tun Aung was released on 19 January 2015.
a land rights activist and leader of the Michaungkan
community, has been repeatedly arrested and
jailed for leading peaceful community protests
against land confiscation in Rangoon. Since
January 2012, he has campaigned for the return
of villagers’ land in Michaungkan Village
in Rangoon’s Thingangyun Township, which
the Burma Army confiscated in the early 1990s.
On 10 September,
a court in Rangoon’s Kyauktada Township
sentenced Sein Than to four months in prison
with hard labor under Article 18 of the Peaceful
Gathering and Demonstration Law for demonstrating
against charges leveled against him for participating
in a land confiscation protest. Since November
2013, he has received eight sentences on similar
charges, totaling two years and nine months.
He is currently being held in Rangoon’s
2012 and September 2013, Michaungkan villagers
held seven demonstrations in downtown Rangoon
to demand the return of their land. From 2-5
October 2013, over 800 villagers set up a
protest camp near the High Court in downtown
On 26 November
2013, villagers established a second protest
camp at the Myasaryan Pagoda in Thingangyun
Township. The same day, authorities arrested
Sein Than and Rangoon’s Thingangyun
Township Court sentenced him to three months
in prison under Article 18 of the Peaceful
Gathering and Demonstration Law for his involvement
in the protest. On 9 December 2013, Rangoon’s
Kyauktada Township Court sentenced him to
another six months in prison on the same charges.
On 11 December 2013, he was released under
a presidential amnesty.
On 12 December
2013, the Michaungkan villagers agreed to
leave the protest site in Thingangyun Township
for three months after the Parliamentary Farmland
Investigation Commission agreed to investigate
their case. However, the commission failed
to resolve the dispute, and as a result, in
March 2014, Sein Than and around 300 Michaungkan
villagers reinstituted their protest camp
near the High Court.
On 19 May
2014, authorities issued an arrest warrant
for Sein Than, claiming that the protest
camp near the High Court blocked the sidewalk.
On 21 May, he and other members of the Michaungkan
community peacefully demonstrated against
the charges. On 31 July, authorities in
Rangoon arrested Sein Than.
On 19 August,
Rangoon’s Latha Township Court sentenced
him to four months in prison with hard labor,
and on 25 August, Rangoon’s Pabedan
Township Court sentenced him to another four
months, both under Article 18 of the Peaceful
Gathering and Demonstration Law for the 21
On 20 August,
Rangoon’s Bahan Township Court sentenced
Sein Than to four months in prison under Article
18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration
Law for leading a peaceful protest in April
2014 to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s home,
to ask for assistance with the Michaungkan
On 29 August,
Rangoon’s Kyauktada Township Court sentenced
him to four months in prison under Article
18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration
Law for the protest near the High Court that
began in March 2014. On 9 September, Rangoon’s
Latha Township Court sentenced him to four
months on charges that the protest camp near
the High Court had blocked the sidewalk.
is a Kachin farmer who formally lived in a
camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs)
with his family. He is currently serving a
20-year prison sentence in Myitkyina Prison
in Kachin State.
In July 2012,
the Burmese Army detained him and forced him
to confess to having connections with the
Kachin Independence Army, an ethnic armed
group, and being responsible for different
bombings in Kachin State. During his interrogation,
he was tortured by soldiers.
2013, after more than a year in detention,
he was given a two-year prison sentence under
Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association
Act. At the trial, he told the judge that
he had confessed so that the torture would
stop. In December 2013, he received an additional
five-year sentence under the 1908 Explosive
Substances Act. In June 2014, he was sentenced
to another 13 years, also under the Explosive
2013, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
determined that his detention was arbitrary
and urged the government to immediately release
is a member of the Yangon People’s Support
Network and a human rights defender campaigning
for farmers affected by the Letpadaung copper
mine in Salingyi Township, Sagaing Division.
He is currently serving a 15-month sentence
in Monywa Prison, Sagaing Division.
2013, authorities detained him under Article
18 of the Peaceful Gathering and Demonstration
Law for organizing protests against the expansion
of the Letpadaung mine without obtaining the
authorities’ prior permission. The charges
were later dropped under a December 2013 presidential
On 11 February
2014, plain-clothed police officers re-arrested
him under Article 505(b) of the Criminal Code
for disturbing public tranquility and for
violating Article 447 of the Criminal Code
related to criminal trespass for his role
helping local villagers protest against land
seizures related to the Letpadaung copper
mine. He was sentenced in March 2014. He was freed on 26 September 2014. No reason was given for his early release.
is an activist who provided assistance to
child soldiers and forced labor victims who
were seeking assistance from the International
Labor Organization (ILO). He is currently
serving a six-month prison sentence in Mandalay
Prison related to his intervention in a March
2013 land dispute between community members
2012, he assisted vendors in a protest against
the proposed relocation of a market in Mandalay’s
Chan Aye Thazan Township. On 12 June 2013,
he was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment
under Article 505(b) of the Criminal Code
and Article 18 of the Peaceful Gathering
and Demonstration Law. He was released under
a presidential amnesty in December 2013,
but was re-arrested the same day on additional
charges. In May 2014, he, along with eight
other defendants, was sentenced to six months
with hard labor on charges of assaulting
a civil servant under Article 353 of the
Criminal Code. He was released on 1 October
Oo is the Chairman of the People Democracy
Party (PDP) and is currently serving a four-year
prison sentence in Katha Prison, Sagaing Division.
In October 2012, he was arrested in Kachin
State, along with three other PDP members
on charges of defaming Kachin State Chief
Minister La John Ngan Hsai. According a PDP
party member, Kachin State authorities prosecuted
PDP leaders after the party’s monthly
bulletin accused Chief Minister La John Ngan
Hsai and his officials of demanding bribes.
Aung Ko Latt
is a human rights activist who is currently
serving an 11-year prison sentence in Thayet
Prison, Magwe Division.
In June 2011,
authorities arrested him and falsely accused
him of membership in the Karen National Union
(KNU) and bombing the Myoma Market in Naypyidaw.
He was charged with multiple offenses, including
violating Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Association
Act and the 1908 Explosive Substances Act.
During the pre-trial detention period, which
lasted more than eight months, he was tortured
and forced into making a confession. The court
sentenced him in March 2012.