Burma Campaign UK today called for the immediate and unconditional release of Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt, and urged the Burmese government to reform the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee and to ensure the release of Zaw Zaw Latt, Pwint Phyu Latt and all remaining political prisoners in Burma.
Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt are Muslim campaigners and members of Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar (Peace Seekers and Multiculturalist Movement), an interfaith foundation founded by a Buddhist monk.
The authorities arrested Zaw Zaw Latt in July 2015 after the Buddhist organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion, known as Ma Ba Tha, and other Buddhist nationalists started a public campaign on social media calling for Zaw Zaw Latt’s arrest for insulting their religion. They claimed that Zaw Zaw Latt had insulted Buddhism by encouraging interfaith “mating” and working with a “Buddhist monk who betray Buddhism.” The authorities subsequently arrested his colleague, Pwint Phyu Latt.
They were told that the reasons for their arrests were for visiting the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) as part of their interfaith trip, and for allegedly illegally crossing into India. They were charged under 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act and the 1947 Burma Immigration Act.
On 26th February 2016, Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt were sentenced to two years with hard labour under the Immigration Act. On 8th April 2016, Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt received two more years in prison under the Unlawful Association Act. They are currently serving their prison sentences in Obo prison in Mandalay.
“I am very sad to see that the interfaith activists got more prison sentences while other activists were being released from prison,” said Wai Hnin, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “Promoting religious freedom is a very important issue for Burma right now and we need more activists like Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt. They should be released immediately so they can continue their peaceful activities to bring religious harmony in the country.”