MMR 001 / 0117 / OBS 008
Arbitrary detention /
January 19, 2017
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Burma.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention of environmental rights defender Mr. Khaing Myo Htun, co-founder of the NGO Natural Resources for the People , board member of the Arakan Natural Resources and Environmental Network, member of the advocacy group Arakan Oil Watch, and Deputy Spokesperson for the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), in Rakhine State.
According to the information received, on January 13, 2017, the Sittwe Township Court in Rakhine State denied bail for the second time to Mr. Khaing Myo Htun, despite his poor health condition. Mr. Khaing Myo Htun is said to have collapsed three times in prison since his arrest. His lawyer indicated that they would appeal the decision.
Mr. Khaing Myo has been detained in Sittwe prison since his arrest on July 25, 2016, pending a court decision on whether to charge him with sedition and incitement under Articles 505(b) and 505(c) of the Criminal Code.
The accusations stem from a statement issued by the ALP on April 24, 2016, in which the party alleged human rights abuses by the Burma army (Tatmadaw) in Rakhine State, including claims of forced labour. The statement led to an army officer filing a complaint against Mr. Khaing Myo Htun under the above-mentioned broad and vague provisions of the Criminal Code. On August 25, 2016, the Sittwe Township Court denied him bail. Mr. Khaing Myo Htun faces up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine if convicted.
The Observatory believes that Mr. Khaing Myo Htun’s prolonged arbitrary detention and judicial harassment are mere acts of retaliation for his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, and recalls that the Burmese authorities frequently use Articles 505(b) and 505(c) of the Criminal Code to silence human rights defenders and other critical voices in Burma.
The Observatory urges the Burmese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Khaing Myo Htun and to ensure his physical and psychological integrity while in detention.
Please write to the authorities of Burma asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Khaing Myo Htun and of all human rights defenders in Burma;
ii. Release Mr. Khaing Myo Htun immediately and unconditionally as well as all human rights defenders detained in Burma, as his detention only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Khaing Myo Htun and all human rights defenders in Burma, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrances;
iv. Comply with all the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1 and 12.2;
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.
· U Htin Kyaw, President; Fax: +95 1 652 624
· Lt Gen Kyaw Swe, Minister for Home Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412 439; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412396
· U Win Mra, Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission; Email: email@example.com
· U Tun Tun Oo, Union Attorney General; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Maj Gen Zaw Win, Director General, Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412006; Email: email@example.com
· HE Mr. Htin Lynn, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Fax: +41 22 732 89 19, +41 22 732 73 77; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Embassy of Myanmar in Brussels, Belgium; Fax: +32 2 705 50 48, Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Burma in your respective countries.