Myanmar: Judicial harassment against Mr. Tha Phoe

16/03/2020
Urgent Appeal

MMR 001 / 0320 / OBS 021
Arrest warrant /
Judicial harassment
Myanmar
March 16, 2020

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 Myanmar.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment against Mr. Tha Phoe, a Karen environmental activist, the Campaign Coordinator of the Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)[1] and alternate Steering Committee member for Karen State Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA)[2].

According to the information received, on the night of March 6, 2020, police from Myaingkalay and Hpa-an police stations in Karen State issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Tha Phoe and went to his home to arrest him. As Mr. Tha Phoe was not at home at that time, police searched the premises and questioned his relatives. The arrest warrant issued against Mr. Tha Phoe stemmed from a complaint filed against him by the Hpa-an General Administration Department to the Hpa-an Township Court on March 6, 2020, under Section 505(b) of the Criminal Code (‘disturbing public tranquillity’). He faces up to two years in prison. The complaint is related to Mr. Tha Phoe’s participation in a traditional prayer ceremony which took place on January 17, 2020, in Nat Kone Village, Hpa-an Township, Karen State. During this ceremony, which was conducted by local residents and village monks from Hpa-an Township, and based on Karen religious traditions, participants prayed to avoid risks associated with water pollution affecting approximately 30 villages near a coal-powered cement factory. At the time of the publication of this Urgent Appeal, police continue to look for Mr. Tha Phoe’s whereabouts.

The Observatory expresses its concern over the judicial harassment against Mr. Tha Phoe, which seems to be only aimed at punishing him for the exercise of his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Myanmar asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Tha Phoe and of all human rights defenders in Myanmar;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - and intimidation against Mr. Tha Phoe and all human rights defenders in Myanmar, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance and fear of reprisals;

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

Addresses:

• Mr. Win Myint, President of Myanmar; Fax: +95 1 652 624
• Lt. Gen Soe Htut, Minister of Home Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412 432; Email: mohamyanmar@gmail.com
• Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412396
• Mr. Hla Myint, Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission; Email: mdjcwg13@gmail.com
• Tun Tun Oo, Union Attorney General; Email: ago.h.o@mptmail.net.mm
• Brig Gen Aung Win Oo, Director General, Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs; Fax: +95 67 412006; Email: mpfserver@gmail.com; epolice@myanmarpoliceforce.org
• HE Mr. Kyaw Moe Tun, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Fax: +41 22 732 89 19; Email: mission@myanmargeneva.org
• Embassy of Myanmar in Brussels, Belgium; Fax: +32 2 705 50 48, Email: mebrussels@skynet.be
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Myanmar in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, March 16, 2020

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 29

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[1] KESAN is a community-based, non-governmental, non-profit organization that works to improve livelihood security and to gain respect for indigenous people’s knowledge and rights in Karen State of Myanmar.
[2] Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability is a civil society alliance that supports civil society actors to collaboratively advocate for transparency and accountability in all sectors across Myanmar.

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