Burma Campaign UK today welcomed the release of Aung Hmine San, Than Htike, Min Naing Lwin and Thein Aung Myint who were arrested for protesting without permission. However, Burma Campaign UK urged the military-backed government in Burma to repeal the current protest law which doesn’t give genuine rights and freedom to protest.
Aung Hmine San, Than Htike, Min Naing Lwin and Thein Aung Myint 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 sentenced to one month in prison but were able to walk free after the court hearing today since they had already been detained for 33 days in prison.
Their cases were highlighted as political prisoners of the month by Burma Campaign UK as part of the No Political Prisoner Left Behind campaign. They have been released with no apology and no acknowledgment that they should never have been in jail in the first place. They now have criminal records, which will create difficulties in finding employment to rebuild their lives, and they will receive no compensation.
Article 18(b) of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law in Burma allows the military-backed government to still control who can have permission to protest and who can’t depending on whether it is critical of the government or not. A protest law which grants genuine rights and freedom to protest should be in place in Burma.
“No one would need to ask for permission to protest or gather, if the protest law in Burma is in line with international standards,” said Wai Hnin, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “ The military-backed government still treats its people with no respect and activists are being arrested for standing up for their rights. If President Thein Sein really wants genuine reform, he should start by repealing this current protest law.”