July 11, 2014

Brang Yung Detention Illegal Says United Nations

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has issued a ruling that the detention of the ethnic Kachin farmer Brang Yung is illegal and called for his immediate release, and for adequate reparation.

Brang Yung was arrested in June 2012 by the military-backed government in Burma. He was charged under Article 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act, and he is serving a 21 year prison sentence in Myitkyina Prison.

He was brutally tortured and forced to make a false confession about his connection with the Kachin Independence Army and different bombings in the area. He was also accused of leaving the refugee camp several times to attend military training sessions with the KIA. According to family members, during the interrogations, he was repeatedly kicked, beaten till his scalp was cut open, forced to drink water mixed with fuel, and his arms were pierced with needles. He was also forced to have sexual intercourse with one other male prisoner.

He was charged under Article 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act. After more than a year in detention, he was sentenced to 2 years prison sentence in November 2013, and an additional 5 years were added to his sentence on 19th December 2013. An additional 14 years were added again to his sentence on 5th June 2014.

The United Nations ruling stated that the detention of Brang Yung is arbitrary, contravening Articles 2, 7 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

They also stated that Brang Yung: “…was targeted for prosecution as he belongs to the minority Kachin ethnic group. Members of this group have been subjected to numerous arrests as well as alleged torture against them to extract confessions.”

The ruling also stated: “The Government of Burma has not rebutted the allegation that Mr. Brang Yung was arrested in order to extract a confession under torture in detention.” The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has also referred the case to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had previously ruled that another Kachin farmer, Laphai Gam, is also being detained illegally.

“The United Nations has now ruled that President Thein Sein is breaking international law by keeping Brang Yung in jail,” said Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “By keeping Brang Yung in jail it is President Thein Sein who is the one breaking the law, not Brang Yung. The failure to release political prisoners, even when the UN rules their detention is illegal, is yet another example of the backsliding of the reform process.”

Burma Campaign UK is calling for a new independent review mechanism for political prisoners to be established in Burma. More information is available here.

Burma Campaign UK took the case of Brang Yung to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention with the assistance of the Burma Justice Committee and Kachin National Organisation UK.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruling on Brang Yung’s case is available here.


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