On 20 November 2012 we received the fantastic news that Burmese prisoner of conscience U Myint Aye had been released. That summer, thousands of you had signed our petition demanding his freedom and when he met with our researcher days after his release he sent you his heartfelt thanks.
U Myint Aye’s story
In May 2008 hundreds of thousands of people in Burma lost their lives when the ferocious Cyclone Nargis attacked the country. Few were left untouched by its force. Millions of families lost their homes. Farmers lost their livelihoods.
Weeks later, the homeless were forced out of shelters by a government that had already resisted international aid.
U Myint Aye had seen enough. He set about collecting money to help the most destitute and made it his job to ensure that those most in need were given all the help he and his colleagues could provide.
He was promptly arrested. The police who searched his house confiscated lists of those who had given money, and those who had received help.
During interrogation U Myint Aye's colleagues were tortured in front of him. They were tortured until he offered a 'confession' to charges of funding terrorism. He was sentenced to life imprisonment 20 hours' drive away from his family.
U Myint Aye was released on 19 November 2012 after thousands of you signed our petition and joined our Edinburgh Festivals campaign to call for his freedom.
Our researcher met up with him just days after his release. He asked her to pass on his heartfelt thanks to all of you that took the time to support him. Thank you.
Prisoners of conscience in Burma
U Myint Aye is not alone. Thousands of people in Burma have been imprisoned for speaking out or being critical of the government. Since elections in May 2011 many have been released but most on conditions that leave them open to re-imprisonment for the duration of their sentence.
In February 2013 Burma’s government announced that it is setting up a committee to review the cases of political prisoners, some of who are prisoners of conscience. This is a very important step towards justice but we’re pushing for the government to go much further
We continue to call on the Burmese authorities to immediately free all prisoners of conscience, with no conditions on their release.