Posts Tagged ‘Letpadaung’

Myanmar/Burma: progress but still along way to go

January 11, 2014

(Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tomás Ojea Quintana. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine)

On 11 December 2013  Tomás Ojea Quintana, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, welcomed the release of 44 prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, hailing it as an important step towards fulfilling President Thein Sein’s pledge of freedom for all political prisoners by the end of this year. “When I look back to the start of my mandate in 2008, I was referring to figures of over 1,900 persons detained on political grounds. It is important to acknowledge the significance of the progress that has been made: today we are referring to figures of less than 50”. The expert said the practice of arresting those who express views that are different to those of the Government became embedded during 50 years of military rule. “Moving to a culture of democracy, where people are free to express their views, will take time,” he stated. “The releases today are a step towards this, but need to be accompanied by legislative reforms.”  However on 17 December the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of FIDH and OMCT, welcoming the latest release of prisoners of opinion in Burma/Myanmar, deplored the re-arrests of human rights defenders Ko Htin Kyaw and Aye Thein within hours of their “release”.  Front Line reported that on 3 December 2013, Tin Htut Pai was arrested for his involvement in commemorating the one-year anniversary of the protests against the Letpadaung mining project. Tin Htut Pai is currently detained but has not been permitted to see his lawyer. Tin Htut Pai is the founder of Generation Youth, an organisation that advocates for youth empowerment and campaigns against land confiscation.

On 10 January 2014 this was followed by praise from the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, for President Thein Sein’s announcement on 2 January that he would commute death sentences to life imprisonment and reduce some sentences on humanitarian grounds and to mark the 66th anniversary of independence of the country. The move is “very significant” for Myanmar, which has not carried out the death penalty since 1989, the spokesperson noted, as the country assumed the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

https://www.un.org/apps/news//story.asp?NewsID=46718&Cr=myanmar&Cr1=#.UtEULijKzZQ

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46904&Cr=myanmar&Cr1=#.UtEThCjKzZQ

http://www.fidh.org/en/asia/burma/14406-burma-it-is-time-to-free-all-human-rights-defenders-and-stop-ongoing

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/24414#sthash.HRV7IJe0.dpuf

Burma’s land and environmental issues keeps human rights defenders under stress

August 19, 2013

Land and environmental issues keep putting pressure on human rights defenders in Burma as reported by Front Line:

On 2 August 2013, human rights defender Mr Ko Htin Kyaw was arrested on charges of insulting the state after participating in a peaceful protest against illegal land seizures on 30 July 2013. Three other peaceful protesters, themselves victims of illegal land seizures, were arrested alongside him. Ko Htin Kyaw is the director of the Movement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF), a community-based organisation working to promote development and democracy in Burma.  They were not given any opportunity to contact a lawyer and were refused bail. If Ko Htin Kyaw is found guilty, he may be sentenced to up to 3 years imprisonment. The charges relate to a peaceful protest held on 30 July 2013 to peacefully express frustration at the government which had not forced the man in question to return the land, despite an acknowledgement from the authorities of the land seizure’s illegality and the existence of considerable evidence to support the claim.

On 20 June 2013, human rights defenders Messrs Moe Thway, Wai Lu and Wai Hmuu Thwin published a statement regarding the arrest warrants issued against them on 13 June 2013 . These arrest warrants are reportedly linked to comments the human rights defenders had made about the Letpadaung copper mine project, a joint venture between the Burmese military’s Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL) and Wan Bao Company, a subsidiary of a Chinese arms manufacturer.

Moe Thway is a member of Generation Wave Youth Force, a network of human rights defenders that campaigns for civil and political rights, including by putting pressure on the Burmese government to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They have also been campaigning against the Letpadaung mine and have brought the campaign to national attention. Wai Lu and Wai Hmuu Thwin are part of the Yangon People Service Network which campaigns for the respect of rule of law and democracy in Burma. The campaign against the Letpadaung project is also part of their work.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped