January 16, 2013

Burma Campaign UK today urged the Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire MP to call in the Burmese ambassador to Britain to question him regarding why people are still being arrested under the right to protest law in Burma. Burma Campaign UK also urged the Foreign Office Minister to demand the military-backed government pass a protest law with genuine rights to protest and to form a joint domestic and international board with the involvement of the UN to investigate the numbers of political prisoners remaining in Burma’s jails.

To draw attention to hundreds of political prisoners still in Burma’s jails, Burma Campaign UK is highlighting the case of different political prisoners every month. The political prisoners for this month are Aung Hmine San, Than Htike, Min Naing Lwin and Thein Aung Myint. They were arrested for participating in a monk-led protest against the violent crackdown at the Latpadaung copper mine in December 2012.

Protests were started in June by a group of farmers demanding compensation for land confiscations and the suspension of the copper mine near Monywa, in central Burma. Latpadaung project is a joint venture between China’s Wan Bao Company and the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, which has resulted in land confiscations and environmental degradation. To support local people, monks and other activists later joined the protests but the military-backed government violently cracked down on the protesters in November.

These four activists were arrested under Article 18(b) of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law. They were given bail but they refused, as they believe that the law which they have been charged under is undemocratic and inequitable. They have been detained in Mandalay Obo prison and are currently facing trial.

“It is very disappointing to see that the military-backed government in Burma still arrests people for peacefully protesting and calling for their rights.” said Wai Hnin, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “Thein Sein’s government should pass a protest law, which gives people genuine rights and freedom to protest. Under the current protest law the government has sole power of who can have permission to protest and who can’t depending on whether it is critical against the government or not.”

Burma Campaign UK supporters are being asked to write a letter to Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire MP asking him pressure the military-backed government to pass a protest law which gives genuine freedom and rights to protest, and to form a joint domestic and international board with the involvement of the UN to investigate the numbers of political prisoners that remain in Burma’s jails and secure their releases.

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