The Swedish Embassy is alarmed by the arrests yesterday of several of the organisers of the peaceful manifestation in Tamwe township against the on-going conflict in Myanmar.
The Embassy is particularly concerned about credible reports that unknown civilians used violence against the protesters, without interventions from the police, and despite the fact that the protesters had agreed to disperse and leave the location.
In recent weeks, several dozen civil society representatives in several locations in Myanmar have been arrested or sued for demanding their right to peacefully assemble and express their opinion. We urge the authorities to stop this practice immediately.
The denial of the right to peacefully assemble to express opinions runs contrary to international human rights law. On the contrary, states have an obligation to protect the right to exercise the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. The local regulation that stipulates a blanket prohibition of protests in eleven of Yangon’s fourteen townships is a non-permissible restriction of the right to freedom of assembly.
The Embassy urges the Myanmar authorities to immediately release those arrested, and drop all charges against them and others who have been sued under the same charges in recent weeks. The authorities must urgently investigate and charge individuals responsible for violence in relation to the events on 12 May.
We also call on the Myanmar Government to urgently embark on a reform of the legislation regarding peaceful assembly, to ascertain that it protects the right to freedom of assembly and is in line with international human rights law. A democratic society can only flourish when opinions freely can be expressed.
View the original statement HERE.