Peace activists Ma Pwint Phyu Latt and Ko Zaw Zaw Latt were among 259 prisoners released from jail today, following a presidential amnesty announced to coincide with the opening of fresh peace talks in Nay Pyi Taw.
Burma Campaign UK has campaigned for their release and calls for the release of all political prisoners. Like the last government, the NLD government has released very few political prisoners – only 10 of the 259, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
A new report documents physical evidence of atrocities committed against the Rohingya by the Burmese Army. “Burned, Stabbed and Shot – Physical Evidence of Atrocities Committed against the Rohingya” is published by the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK.
Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK, writing for the Democratic Voice of Burma, calls for a transparent policy from the NLD-led government about how it operates the visa ban list: “A year into the NLD government’s term in office, there is no excuse for still banning human rights and democracy activists from their own country simply because someone in power didn’t like what they said or did.”
As Aung San Suu Kyi tours Europe this week, she faces criticism for being unable to bring all ethnic armed groups together for peace negotiations in Burma, and for publicly announcing she would not “take sides” in the conflict in Rakhine State.
Zoya Phan, campaign manager for Burma Campaign UK, told the Irrawaddy “Europe needs to change the way it has been supporting the peace process, as it is very one-sided, working mainly with the government and following their agenda”.
As Min Aung Hlaing returns from his visit to Europe, the Washington Post reports that Burma Campaign UK condemned the governments of Germany and Austria for inviting him.
The Post quotes Burma Campaign UK’s statement: “Min Aung Hlaing is the biggest obstacle to improving human rights, democratic reform, peace, modernisation, and improving health and education in Burma.”
In an article for Mizzima News from Myanmar, Burma Campaign UK’s Director Mark Farmaner said history was made this Thingyan New Year, but it largely went unnoticed. For the first time in decades a prisoner amnesty was announced, but none of those released were political prisoners. Almost 200 political prisoners were left in jail, some of them convicted, some not even convicted, still awaiting trial. Keeping political prisoners in jail puts the NLD government in the same league as governments in countries like Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan.
National and international NGOs, including Burma Campaign UK, have issued a joint statement to mark the third anniversary of U Win Tin’s death. They call for the immediate release of all political prisoners and the establishment of an “independent and effective” prisoner review mechanism to bring about an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions.
Politicians and activists around the world wore blue shirts today to commemorate renowned journalist and politician U Win Tin and all political prisoners still held in Burma’s jails. The event this year falls on the three-year anniversary of U Win Tin’s death.
At the UN Security Council’s first ‘thematic’ debate on human rights this Tuesday, Burma rejoined the ranks of Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria as the USA’s least favourite human rights violators.
Anna Roberts, Executive Director and Doug Janke, Head of Development at Burma Campaign UK, at NASUWT’s conference in Manchester this weekend, with thanks to NASUWT for great support.