MONTH IN REVIEW
According to an analysis of conditions in October, the various human rights violations have not diminished, continuing to occur due to the consequences of the many armed conflicts in Burma. The following incidents demonstrate that freedom of expression and civil rights have been restricted and the activists, students, workers, farmers and civilians continue to face persecution.
As for freedom of expression, this right has become extremely vulnerable. This demonstrates freedom of expression is not guaranteed in the transitional period. Arrests, charges and sentences of protestors are continuing to restrict without restraint the freedom of expression instead of increasing disease prevention in prisons during COVID-19. The following October incidents clearly present this:
Kyaw Naing Htay, Oo Than Naing, Myat Soe Win and Kaung Tun, four students, were arrested and charged under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code over an anti-government protest in Sittwe, Arakan State. Kyaw Thiha Ye Kyaw and Soe Hla Naing from ABFSU were sentenced to seven years and two months imprisonment under Section 505(a)(b) of the Penal Code and Section 19 of PAPPL and Ye Yint Aung from Yadanabon Students Union was sentenced to two years and two months imprisonment under Section 505(b) and Section 19 of PAPPL, six other students were sentenced to one year imprisonment under Section 505(b) of the Penal Code. While five out of six students were sentenced to one month imprisonment under Section 19 of PAPPL.
Activist Lay Naing from Bago Town and Lawyer Kyaw Naing Win a.k.a Saw Kyaw Naing Win from the People’s Party in Rangoon Division were sentenced to two years imprisonment
If the fundamental right to free expression which is the foundation of human rights, cannot be firmly established, other fundamental rights will continue to falter. If a country wants to make reforms, it is very important to strengthen these fundamental rights. Therefore, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) urges the government to enshrine free expression as a fundamental right.
As for ongoing conflicts in ethnic areas, armed clashes between the military and the Arakan Army (AA) have intensified in Arakan State and people living in these areas are concentrated on by both armed groups. Arrests on suspicion and tortures have not reduced and these people often face prosecution. Some October incidents of human rights abuses which occurred in Arakan State were:
- Two children were killed and another was seriously wounded in a clash involving the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army (AA) in Arakan State’s Buthidaung Township while 15 villagers including children and men were being taken as guides.
- Sein Win Maung, one out of two fishermen, living in an old Darlet Village in Arakan State’s Ann Township, died after one day because he had not received any medical attention all day due to prohibition of traveling as incidents of heavy firing in the area continued. Thein Myint, the remaining fisherman, sustained serious injuries.
- Maung Kyaw Than from Yokethar Village in Arakan State’s Kyauktaw Township, Kyaw Maung and Win Htay from Theintan Village in Arakan State’s Sittwe Township and Maung Than Tin from Sanae Village in Arakan State’s Ann Township, were beaten up by the military during investigation. Moreover, Maung Gyi, Kyaw Min Soe and Maung Maung Oo, three people living in U Soe Tint Ward, Minbya Township, Arakan State, were beaten on the whole way while they were being arrested.
- A monk and three youths from IDP Camp in Sittwe Township, Arakan State, were arrested by a military contingent. Two out of three youths from IDP Camp are 16 and 17 years old and are students.
- The policeman Ye Ko Naing was sentenced to three years imprisonment under Section 50(j) and 52(a) of the Counter-terrorism Law for allegedly informing the Arakan Army (AA).
Bullet injuries and fatalities
- Six civilians were wounded and six civilians including two children were also killed in shootings in Rathedaung, Minbya, Buthidaung and Sittwe Townships, in Arakan State.
- Another two government servants were wounded in Mong Pan Township in Shan State.
Deaths/injuries caused by artillery shelling
- 23 civilians including six children were injured and four civilians including a child died in artillery shelling in Minbya, Pauktaw, Rathedaung, Ann, Kyauktaw, and Mrauk-U Townships, Arakan State.
- Two civilians were wounded in Kyaukme Township in Shan State.
Deaths/injuries caused by landmines
- Two civilians were killed and four were injured by landmines in Arakan State’s Ponnagyun, Minbya and Kyauktaw Townships.
The above incidents are of particular concern in Arakan State. Furthermore, some of the above cases clearly illustrate that children are also involved in these conflicts. As Burma is a signatory to the United Nations’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the safety and survival of children must be protected. In addition, Burma has to respect and follow the Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict. However, amid nearly two years of armed conflict in Arakan State, the road to peace is still a long way off and justice is still vague for people including women and children.
October 2 is the International Day of Non-Violence. The principle of non-violence — also known as non-violent resistance — rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. Therefore, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) urges all parties to resolve the peace process and the violence as a result of armed conflict.
The arrests of the ethnic armed groups have also exacerbated the internal conflicts and hampered national reconciliation. Failure to protect ordinary people by any armed group is a neglect of the rights to safety and freedoms of citizens. In October, the Arakan Army (AA) arrested the NLD’s Pyithu Hluttaw candidate for Taungup Township, Daw Ni Ni May Myint, Amyotha Hluttaw candidate Daw Chit Chit Chaw and Arakan State Hluttaw candidate U Min Aung. In relation to the arrests of the three candidates, AAPP released a statement declaring “an essential component of a free and fair democratic election is the right of candidates to campaign safely. Extrajudicial intimidation and arrests of candidates of any party violate the basic human rights of those individuals and affect a free and fair election.” Accordingly, we strongly urge for the immediate safe release of the three NLD candidates arrested by the Arakan Army (AA).
As for the loss of civil rights, loss of the right to vote also indicates a restriction on a person’s fundamental rights. In October, the Union Election Commission (UEC) announced that some constituencies of Arakan, Chin, Shan, Kachin, Karen and Mon States and Bago Division would not be able to hold voting due to the lack of conditions for free and fair elections. Everyone has the right to vote freely, it is a value and standard of the democracy system. The votes of the individual citizens are the right to choice of the citizen and are important to shape the future of the country and to be a better government. For this reason, we urge the Union Election Commission (UEC) to review the votes in these constituencies.
As for the repression of civilians, an incident, occurred in october, clearly showed the repression of civil rights. Kaung Wunna Min Ko, former ABFSU Student, who lives in Mandalay city in Mandalay Division, was arrested by four policemen wearing plain clothes. He was handcuffed on his back and was covered on his head with a cloth while he was being arrested. After he was questioned in relation to a Facebook post about Arakan issues, and allegedly defaming the military, he was covered on his head with a cloth and sent back. This is a tactic used during the military dictatorship and oppresses a person’s right to live with dignity. Furthermore, it also causes great harm to the victim. It is worrying that the above method is still used today and we urge the government to take effective action to prevent similar incidents occurring in future.
For More Information:
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP)
U Tate Naing (Secretary) +95(0)9428023828
U Bo Kyi (Joint-Secretary) +95(0)9425308840