May 20, 2016

Summary of the Current Situation:
There are 64 political prisoners incarcerated in Burma.
138 activists are currently awaiting trial for political actions, 43 of whom are incarcerated.

MONTH IN REVIEW

This month, 235 political activists were released following a series  of presidential amnesties, two political activists were arrested in total, and 16 individuals were sentenced. Three political prisoners are reported to be in bad health. Also this month, 25 activists were charged, of which 12 were farmers.

The new NLD government led by President Htin Kyaw took office on April 1. On April 6 the new government created the role of State Counselor, assumed by Aung San Suu Kyi. Her first act was to release a statement on April 7 announcing the government’s intention to release political prisoners, political activists, students and supporters who are facing trial because of their political activities, as a first priority. A series of releases of political prisoners followed this announcement.

On April 8, the government announced that they had dropped charges against 199 political prisoners under Section 494 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. AAPP has been able to confirm 115 of these. All of
the 115 were facing trial, but had not yet been sentenced, for various offences including the National Education Bill protests, labor rights protests, and protests against the military’s 25% seat share in
Parliament. On April 17, the President announced a pardon of 83 political prisoners under Section 401. (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. AAPP has verified 70 of these releases. A further 48
political activists had charges against them dropped before the end of the month.

Despite the amnesties this month, courts in Burma continued to hand down sentences under Section 17 of the Unlawful Association Act. A total of 13 Arakanese youth were sentenced this month for alleged
Arakan Army (AA) connections, while three of them were released as part of the presidential amnesty on April 17. They received sentences ranging from three to five years. Also sentenced under the Unlawful Association Act this month were the interfaith activists, Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt, who received an additional two years in prison with labor on top of their existing
2 year sentence

Contrary to the expectations of the international community, U Gambira, one of the leaders of the 2007 Saffron Revolution, received a sentence of six months’ imprisonment with hard labor. He was charged under Section 13. (1) of the Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act for illegally crossing the border to Thailand where he intended to receive medical treatment for his mental health problems related to his former imprisonment and torture. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called the sentencing politically motivated.

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)

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