Urgent Action: Former child soldier jailed in Myanmar after media interview

Aung Ko Htwe
Steve Tickner/Frontier Myanmar

Former child solider Aung Ko Htwe is serving two years and six months in prison in connection with a media interview he gave about his experiences in the Myanmar military. He faces a further three years in prison after he protested his conviction. He should be immediately and unconditionally released.

Aung Ko Htwe, now 26, was arrested on 18 August 2017. His “crime” was to give a media interview, broadcast earlier that month, in which he described his experiences as a child solider, including how the military abducted and forcibly recruited him when he was 13 years old. He was charged under Section 505(b) of Myanmar’s Penal Code, a vaguely-worded provision which criminalizes any person who makes, publishes or circulates information which may cause “fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity". The provision has frequently been used to arbitrarily restrict the right to freedom of expression in Myanmar. On 28 March, Aung Ko Htwe was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison – the maximum sentence under Section 505(b).

TAKE ACTION

Please write in English, Burmese or your own language urging the Myanmar authorities to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Aung Ko Htwe, drop remaining charges against him and quash all convictions for which he is imprisoned, as he is being punished solely for the peaceful exercise of his human rights;
  • Ensure that, pending his release, Aung Ko Htwe is held in conditions which meet international standards, and that he has regular access to family, lawyers of his choosing, and any medical treatment he requires;
  • Repeal or amend all laws – including Section 505(b) of the Penal Code – which criminalize or impose arbitrary or sweeping restrictions on the human right to freedom of expression, and bring Myanmar legislation into line with international human rights law and standards.

Write or email to these officials before 12 October:

Minister of Home Affairs
Lt. Gen. Kyaw Swe
Minister of Home Affairs
Office No. 10, Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 67 412 439
Email: mohamyanmar@gmail.com 
Salutation: Dear Minister

Union Attorney General 
U Tun Tun Oo 
Union Attorney General Office No. 25 
Nay Pyi Taw, 
Republic of the Union of Myanmar 
Fax: + 95 067 404106 
Email: ago.h.o@mptmail.net.mm 
Salutation: Dear Attorney General 

And copies to:

State Counsellor
Aung San Suu Kyi
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Office No. 9
Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Fax: + 95 67 412 396

 

Downloads
Download the full UA in pdf here.