Annual Report: Myanmar 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Myanmar 2011

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  • In April, soldiers arrested two men in Pa Laai village, Nam-Zarng township, Shan state, accusing them of supporting armed Shan rebels. The soldiers beat one of the men to death, while the fate and whereabouts of the other are unknown.
  • In June, Zaw Wine, 40, escaped from soldiers who had ordered him to go to Par Pra village in Kayin state to acquire intelligence about the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA). He had also been told to put on the group's uniform and pose for a photograph – a tactic previously used by soldiers in order to frame and then kill villagers for being part of the armed opposition group.
  • In September, 11 people from Rakhine state were given prison sentences of between three and nine years for, among other offences, alleged links to the banned All Arakan Students' and Youths' Congress (AASYC).
  • In September, authorities arrested U Pyinnya Sara, a Rakhine monk and cultural historian, and sentenced him to eight years and three months in prison on charges including handling obscene materials, insulting religion, criminal breach of trust and possession of foreign currency.
  • In October, a closed court in Yangon's Insein Prison sentenced Nyi Nyi Tun, of joint Mon and Burman ethnicity, Editor of Kantarawaddy News Journal, to 13 years in prison, on charges including contacting an exile news agency and using electronic media without permission.

Political prisoners

The number of political prisoners in Myanmar reached an estimated 2,200 during 2010, and was likely to have been significantly higher on account of ethnic minority prisoners whose names and cases were unknown. Most were prisoners of conscience. At least 64 political activists were sentenced to prison terms. This number included some of the 49 arrested during the year, and 38 were transferred between prisons, including to those in remote areas. Torture and other ill-treatment continued to be reported during pre-trial detention and in prisons.

Thirty-eight political prisoners were released, including NLD spokesperson U Win Htein, released two months after the expiry of his prison sentence, and Deputy NLD Chairperson U Tin Oo, released after seven years of house arrest. On 13 November, Aung San Suu Kyi was released without conditions from house arrest after the expiry of her sentence. Myint Maung and Thura Aung, imprisoned in 2008 and 2009 for helping farmers file legal cases against illegal confiscation of their land, were released in August after their sentences were reduced on appeal.

Prisoners of conscience who remained in prison included:

  • Min Ko Naing, former student leader and veteran political activist who is serving a 65-year prison sentence for organizing a demonstration in 2007, remained in solitary confinement, having previously been held in solitary confinement for long periods during 16 years' imprisonment between 1988 and 2004.
  • Naw Ohn Hla Hla, Cho Cho Lwin, Cho Cho Aye and San San Myint were sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour in February for holding weekly prayers for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners at Yangon's Shwedagon Pagoda.
  • Ngwe Soe Lin, 28, a reporter for the overseas media organization the Democratic Voice of Burma, was sentenced in January to 13 years for filming without permission.

Lack or refusal of adequate medical treatment in prisons continued to be reported, with many prisons having no medical facilities. Many political prisoners, particularly those held in remote prisons where medical treatment was often denied them, suffered from ill-health. These included a group of Shan politicians, all prisoners of conscience, sentenced in 2005 for criticizing the National Convention and denied adequate medical attention in prison: