The end of 2013 saw the cancelation of numerous political activists trials, and the release of a few from Burma?s prison. According to government statements, this has emptied the jails of political activists. Those trials under the most commonly used laws to arrests activists were ended and the accused freed without further charge. And yet President Thein Sein has still failed to achieve his promise to release all political prisoners. Following the December release, The Review Committee for the Release of Remaining Political Prisoners still held the assertion that there remained 33 political prisoners, a number that has already begun to increase in January. AAPP is a leading member of The Review Committee and there are still political prisoners to be released in the New Year. Because of erroneous declarations by government officials and an insistence that there are no more political prisoners in Burma, the role of The Review Committee will become increasingly important in fighting for their release.
AAPP records show at least 33 political prisoners remain in prison with around 148 awaiting sentencing. January also saw the arrest of 10 individuals, 9 of which were charged under Section 18 of the Peaceful Procession and Peaceful Assembly law, the other under section 447 of the Trespass Law.
7 people were sentenced, including the prominent activist Daw Bauk Ja who was subsequently released on the 24th of January as she had already served six months of incarceration. 5 were released from prison.
January also saw one of the biggest demonstrations held in Rangoon since the Saffron Revolution in 2007. Some 2000 people representing around 60 civil society groups protested on the 5th of January at Mahabandoola Park, symbolic venue of the Independence monument. The demonstration was called for the repeal of unjust and reviled sections 18 and 505 (b), both of which are in contravention of fundamental human rights.