Burma: Prisoner releases welcomed but all prisoners of conscience should be freed

News that more than 50 political prisoners including prisoners of conscience U Myint Aye and Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min have been released is a further step in the right direction towards addressing arbitrary detention in Burma, said Amnesty International, while calling for more releases.

Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, said:

“While this is a positive development, we urge the Burmese authorities to release all prisoners of conscience still behind bars immediately and without conditions.”

Co-founder of the Human Right Defenders and Promoters network, U Myint Aye, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2008 as a result of his peaceful political activities.

Lawyer and human rights defender Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min had his licence to practice law revoked for alleged contempt of court in 2008, and was subsequently sentenced to six months’ imprisonment on 29 August 2012.
Isabelle Arradon added:

“Neither U Myint Aye nor Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min should have been detained in the first place. They should be granted an unconditional release, and Saw Kyaw Kyaw Min’s licence to practice law must be immediately reinstated.

 “Amnesty International welcomes the announcement. We call on the authorities to ensure that it will lead to a comprehensive review mechanism to determine exactly why all those who remain in prison are actually there.

“The United Nations and civil society representatives must be involved in this process to guarantee its independence, impartiality and credibility.”

“There should also be an independent and impartial investigation into all credible reports of torture and other ill-treatment, as well as a guarantee that there is independent monitoring in all places of detention.”

The Burmese government on 18 November announced that it will hold inter-governmental consultations by December 2012 to reconsider charges and punishment of prisoners still in jail.

On 8 November 2012, Amnesty International addressed an open letter to the Burma authorities calling for a review mechanism of prisoners: Read the open letter now (PDF)

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