MMR 002 / 1216 / OBS 109.1
January 19, 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.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about a recent development in the investigation of Mr. Soe Moe Tun’s murder. Mr. Soe Moe Tun, who was murdered on December 13, 2016, was a journalist with the Eleven Media Group, a company that owns several media outlets in Burma, including the Daily Eleven newspaper. Mr. Soe Moe Tun was known for his investigative work on illegal logging and timber smuggling in several areas of Sagaing Region, including Monywa and Sagaing Townships.
According to the information received, on January 16, 2017, two suspects under investigation were released from police custody. The two suspects, the manager and supervisor of karaoke bar Blue Sky KTV, were among the last people Mr. Soe Moe Tun had been in contact with before he was killed. The two suspects were arrested on December 19, 2016. A third suspect, a driver, arrested on January 2, 2017, remains in custody.
The police have also filed a request with the Ministry of Transport and Communications to investigate phone numbers contacted and conversation records in Mr. Soe Moe Tun’s phone.
The Observatory urges the authorities to ensure a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the murder of Mr. Soe Moe Tun is carried out, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern over the unsafe environment for human rights defenders in Burma, in particular the ongoing impunity in the case of the murder of Karen woman human rights defender Ms. Chit Pandaing, better known as “Eh Paw Tel” .
On the morning of December 13, 2016, the body of Mr. Soe Moe Tun was found on the side of Pyidaungsu Road near the Monywa golf course in Monywa, Sagaing Region. Bruises, wounds on his head, and an apparently fractured skull lead police to believe Mr. Soe Moe Tun was beaten to death with a blunt object.
Shortly before his death, on December 7, 2016, Mr. Soe Moe Tun had written a Facebook post that included a list of individuals who were allegedly tied to the illegal timber trade in Sagaing Region.
On December 13, 2016, police in Monywa opened a murder investigation into Mr. Soe Moe Tun’s death. Preliminary evidence gathered by the police indicated that the killing was intentional and premeditated, and may have involved at least two people.
Please write to the authorities of Burma asking them to:
i. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the murder of Mr. Soe Moe Tun in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;
ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Burma;
iii. 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;
iv. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
· U Htin Kyaw, President; Fax: +95 1 652 624
· Lt Gen Kyaw Swe, Minister for Home Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412 439; Email: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org
· U Tun Tun Oo, Union Attorney General; Email: email@example.com
· Maj Gen Zaw Win, Director General, Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs, Fax: +95 67 412006; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· 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: email@example.com
· Embassy of Myanmar in Brussels, Belgium; Fax: +32 2 705 50 48; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Burma in your respective countries.