December 2, 2013

Burma Campaign UK today highlights the case of La Ring as political prisoner of the month in our No Political Prisoner Left Behind campaign, and urged Foreign Secretary William Hague to pressure the military-backed government in Burma to repeal all repressive laws, and secure the immediate unconditional release of all political prisoners in Burma.

La Ring is a 29-year-old ethnic Kachin farmer who was arrested by Burmese Army 37th battalion on suspicion of being a solider from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). The KIA is the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation, which works for democracy and more autonomy for the Kachin people.

He was not given any explanation for his arrest but during interrogation he was accused of being a KIA soldier and carrying out bombing operations near Myitkyina. He was brutally tortured and forced to make a false confession about his connections with the KIA and different bombings in the area. During interrogation, he was repeatedly kicked, beaten and a wooden stick was put on his shin while two soldiers stepped on each sides.

He was charged under Article 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act and forced to confess. After more than a year of detention, on 15th November 2013, he was sentenced to 2 years in jail. At his trial, La Ring said he is just a refugee and he had never worked with the KIA.

“La Ring’s case is an example of how civilians are subject to arrest, torture and harassment under the repressive laws in Burma,” said Wai Hnin, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “The issue of political prisoners will remain a big problem unless all repressive laws are repealed. By talking up the positive changes in Burma, William Hague and the international community are abandoning political prisoners of Burma. No political prisoners should be forgotten and left behind in jail.”

Action can be taken on the Burma Campaign UK website here.

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