SHRF Condemns Unjust Prison Sentences of up to Ten Years for Ho Pong Farmers
SHRF strongly condemns the unjust sentencing on February 26, 2018, of eight farmers from Ho Pong, southern Shan State, to prison sentences of between four and ten years.
The farmers had been arrested since July 2017, and detained in Ho Pong Jail, on suspicion of links to the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), after fighting between the Burma Army and the RCSS/SSA in Ho Pong on July 14, 2017. After the clash, the Burma Army deployed hundreds of troops into the area, who rounded up and tortured villagers indiscriminately, accusing them of supporting the RCSS/SSA.
The farmers were arrested for possession of items such as walkie-talkies, hunting rifles and bullets, even though these items are used by villagers for everyday purposes.
The farmers were kept in Ho Pong Jail, attending sporadic court hearings, which had dragged on over six months, because the Burma Army plaintiffs either did not show up, or avoided answering questions in court.
On February 26, the farmers’ relatives and local village chairmen arrived at Ho Pong court at 8 am, having been told by their lawyer that all charges would be dropped. However, they were shocked to learn that the farmers had already been sentenced and transferred to Taung Lay Long Prison in Nyaungshwe township. Their families did not even have a chance to see them before they left.
The farmers were charged under Article 67 of the Telecommunications Law (for possession of walkie-talkies); under Articles 3/3 and 5/4 of the 1956 Law for Defence of the Union of Burma – Special Military Operation (for being in a conflict zone without permission); under Article 12 of the Arms Act (for possession of arms under suspicious circumstances); and Article 8 of the Transport law (for driving a vehicle without registration).
|No||Name of victim||Age||Village where arrested||Burma Army battalion(s) which made the arrest||Charges brought against victim||Prison sentence received|
|1||Sai Ko||37||Wan Nam Khok||IB 225, IB 249||Telecom Law – 1 yr
Defence law – 3 yrs
|2||Sai Hla Tun||24||Wan Kho Tawng||LIB 424||Telecom Law – 1 yr
Defence Law – 3 yrs
|3||Lung Awna||40||Wan Nam Khok||IB 225, IB 249||Arms Act||7 years|
|4||Sai Jing Da||28||Wan Nam Khok||IB 225, IB 249||Arms Act||7 years|
|5||Sai Jarm||29||Wan Khok Lao||LIB 424||Arms Act||7 years|
|6||Sai Khun||30||Wan Mark Lang||IB 249||Arms Act||7 years|
|7||Sai Panda||30||Wan Khok Lao||LIB 424||Telecom Law – 1 yr
Arms Act – 7 yrs
|8||Lung Hsang Sai||47||Wan Kun Koong||IB 249||Transport Law – 3 yrs
Arms Act – 7 yrs
A 12-year-old boy, Sai Win, arrested at the same time as the other farmers for possession of a walkie-talkie, and detained for one month, is still facing charges, but has not yet been sentenced.
The relatives of the farmers plan to start appealing in Ho Pong against the court decision.
The sentencing of these innocent Shan farmers shows there is no justice in Burma. The Burma Army has clearly engineered these harsh prison sentences to cause fear among Shan civilians, and threaten the RCSS/SSA not to retaliate against its ongoing expansion and aggression. In recent months, increasing numbers of Burma Army troops have been deployed into RCSS/SSA areas, despite the fact that the RCSS/SSA is a signatory of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.
“There is no protection for civilians under the peace process,” said SHRF spokesperson Sai Hor Hseng. “Villagers are being held hostage by the Burma Army to pressure the ethnic armed groups into submission.”
SHRF urges international donors to the peace process in Burma to publicly raise concerns about this unjust sentencing of these Ho Pong farmers, and call for their immediate and unconditional release.
Details of the arrest of the farmers can be seen in the following SHRF updates:
Sai Hor Hseng +66: 62- 941-9600 (English, Shan)
Sai Yord Luen +66: 97- 143-1530 (Burmese, Shan)
Sai Hseng Tai +66: 94- 728-6696 (Burmese, Shan)
Download this update in English HERE.
ေနာက္ဆုံးရသတင္းအေျခေန ျမန္မာဘာသာကုိ ဤေနရာတြင္ ရယူႏုိင္သည္။