Burma: Ongoing judicial harassment against Mandalay farmers and two land rights defenders of the Farmers Network Interest of Farmers and Labor (FNI-FL)

18/08/2017
Urgent Appeal

New information
MMR 003 / 0817 / OBS 089

Judicial harassment /
Arbitrary detention /
Burma
August 18, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Burma.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment against two land rights defenders, Messrs. Toe Gyi and Myo Win, leaders of the Mandalay-based Farmers Network Interest of Farmers and Labor (FNI-FL), and 11 farmers, including the arbitrary detention of Mr. Toe Gyi and nine of the farmers.

According to the information received, on August 10, 2017, the Pyin Oo Lwin Township Court rejected an appeal by Messrs. Toe Gyi and Myo Win and 11 farmers to overturn the June 1, 2017 decision to revoke their bail (see background information). Mr. Toe Gyi and nine of the farmers who attended court proceedings were detained and sent to Mandalay’s Obo Prison. Mr. Myo Win and two farmers, who did not attend proceedings, were summoned and face a fine of five million kyat (approx. 3,151 Euros) if they do not appear in court within 15 days.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Mr. Toe Gyi and nine farmers, as well as their ongoing judicial harassment, along with that against Mr. Myo Win and two other farmers, which only aims at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Burmese authorities to end all forms of harassment – including at the judicial level – against all of the above-mentioned defenders, and drop all charges against them.

Background information:

On October 23, 2016, Messrs.Toe Gyi, Myo Win and 11 farmers were arrested for their involvement in a plow protest on October 8, 2016 in Pyinsar Village, Pyin Oo Lwin Township. The protest was against land confiscation without compensation in the Mandalay Region, which the military started to carry in 1998, followed by the selling of large tracts of it to private companies and business executives with ties to the then ruling military junta for a coffee plantation project [1].

On October 24, 2016, Messrs. Toe Gyi, Myo Win and other 11 farmers were charged under Articles 114 (abetment), 353 (assault of a public servant), 392 (robbery), 427 (mischief), 447 (trespass), and 506 (intimidation) of the Criminal Code for their involvement in a plow protest.

After spending four months in detention, they were granted bail on 23 February 2017.

On June 1, 2017, Pyin Oo Lwin Township Court revoked their bail and issued arrest warrants.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Burma asking them to:

- Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Toe Gyi and the nine farmers, as their detention is arbitrary;

- Immediately and unconditionally put an end to all acts of judicial harassment - including at the judicial level –, and drop all the charges brought against Messrs. Toe Gyi and Myo Win, the 11 farmers, and all other human rights defenders in Burma;

- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Toe Gyi and Myo Win, the 11 farmers, and all other human rights defenders in Burma;

- 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;
- Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.

Addresses:

· U Htin Kyaw, President of Burma; Fax: +95 1 652 624
· Lt Gen Kyaw Swe, Minister of Home Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412 439; Email: mohamyanmar@gmail.com
· 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: chmyanmarnhrc@gmail.com
· U Tun Tun Oo, Union Attorney General; Email: ago.h.o@mptmail.net.mm
· Maj Gen Zaw Win, Director General, Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412006; Email: mpfserver@gmail.com; epolice@myanmarpoliceforce.org
· HE U 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: mission@myanmargeneva.org
Belgium; Fax: +32 2 705 50 48, Email: mebrussels@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Burma in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, August 18, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals[at]fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49

Read more