Burma Campaign UK today expressed extreme concern that political activist Nay Myo Zin is being forced to serve his old prison sentence after being convicted on a new charge. He is the first former political prisoner to be put back in prison to serve his old prison sentence after his conditional release under a presidential amnesty in 2012.
The EU and USA set the unconditional release of all political prisoners in Burma as one of the key benchmarks which needed to be met before the lifting of sanctions. However, the EU and USA have lifted almost all sanctions despite the fact that most political prisoners were only released conditionally, and there are still hundreds of political prisoners in jail.
Almost all the political prisoners released since 2011 have only had their sentences suspended under Burma penal code 401, rather than receiving full pardons. This means that if they are arrested again they will serve the new prison terms, and the old prison term which they didn’t finish serving will be added to it. The released political activists receive no compensation and have criminal records, which creates difficulties in finding employment and trying to rebuild their lives.
“This jailing of Nay Myo Zin shows that the EU was wrong to lift sanctions and talk about ‘remarkable progress’ in Burma,” said Wai Hnin, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “William Hague didn’t keep his word on judging the Burmese government by their actions. He supported lifting sanctions even though the benchmark of the unconditional release of all political prisoners which he had previously insisted on had not been met. His new soft approach with the Burmese government is effectively abandoning political prisoners in the country.”
Nay Myo Zin is a former military captain turned social activist and a founder of Myanmar Social Development Network, which is a civil society organisation that supports healthcare, informal education and farming communities. He was arrested in August 2011 and sentenced to 10 years in prison under the Electronic Transaction Act. He was released in January 2012 under a presidential amnesty.