A report by Amnesty International
“In 2012 and 2013 the situation seemed better and more flexible but in 2014 and 2015 people started being charged and jailed again, for example the students, the farmers, the unions, media… This keeps people busy with working for their release and for supporting their families.”
Thet Thet Aung, former prisoner of conscience, July 2015
Thet Thet Aung’s words speak to the worrying erosion of newly found freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly in Myanmar, a country which has seen rapid transformation in the last five years, as it moves from five decades of repressive and authoritarian military rule towards a more open political system.
As people have begun to exercise these new freedoms to assert their rights, the authorities have increasingly cracked down on peaceful expression. Since the start of 2014 hundreds of people have been arrested, charged, arbitrarily detained or imprisoned in politically motivated cases. They include student protesters, political activists, media workers and human rights defenders3 and, in particular land and labour activists.
In part, this has been possible by the use of repressive, vague and broadly worded laws which were commonly used prior to 2011 to arrest and imprison thousands of people. Amnesty International has observed a
disturbing resurgence in their use between 2014 and 2015 and calls on the new incoming government to repeal or reform these laws to bring them into line with international law and standards. As long as these laws remain unamended and on the books, human rights defenders and other activists will remain at risk of arrest.