Burma: Arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of Mr. Thaw Zin

Urgent Appeal

MMR 001 / 0214 / OBS 009
Arbitrary arrest /
Judicial harassment
February 12, 2014

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Burma.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Thaw Zin, a member of the Yangon People’s Support Network and an activist campaigning for farmers affected by the Letpadaung copper mine in Salingyi Township, Sagaing Region [1].

According to the information received, on February 11, 2014, at about 10 am, six plain-clothed police officers arrested Mr. Thaw Zin in Salingyi Township. Shortly after the arrest, about 100 villagers marched to the Nyaungpingyi police station, calling for Mr. Thaw Zin’s release, but the authorities declined to explain the reasons of the arrest. Later, the police only confirmed that Mr. Thaw Zin had been sent to Monywa prison.

The Observatory fears that Mr. Thaw Zin was arrested for organising several demonstrations that led to confrontations between residents affected by the Letpadaung copper mine and staff of Wan Bao in 2013.

Mr. Thaw Zin had previously been detained in 2013 under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, for organising protests without obtaining the authorities’ prior permission [2]. The charge was subsequently dropped under a presidential amnesty announced on December 31, 2013.

The Observatory condemns the arrest and judicial harassment of Mr. Thaw Zin, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his peaceful human rights activities, and calls upon the Burmese authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Background information:

Peaceful protests that began in August 2012 against the Letpadaung copper mine were heavily repressed by the authorities on several occasions. In November 2012, police used white phosphorus bombs to disperse peaceful protestors, injuring dozens, including Buddhist monks.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Burma, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Thaw Zin as well as of all human rights defenders in Burma;

ii. Release Mr. Thaw Zin immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary and only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to acts of any acts of harassment, including at judicial level, against Mr. Thaw Zin and all human rights defenders in Burma;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its:
- Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
- Article 6(a), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”;
- Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and ratify international and regional human rights instruments.


· U Thein Sein, President of Myanmar, President Office, Office No.18, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: + 95 1 652 624
· U Hla Min, Minister for Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Office No. 10, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: +95 67 412 439
· U Win Mra, Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, 27 Pyay Road, Hline Township, Yangon, Republic of the Union of Myanmar; Fax: +95-1-659668
· Dr. Tun Shin, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Office No. 25, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106
· U Tun Tun Oo, Chief Justice, Office of the Supreme Court, Office No. 24, Naypyitaw, MYANMAR; Fax: + 95 67 404 059
· U Kyaw Kyaw Htun, Director General, Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs, Office No. 10, Naypyitaw, Myanmar; Fax: +951 549 663 / 549 208
· H.E. Mr. Maung Wai, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue Blanc 47, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 732 89 19, +41 22 732 73 77, Email: mission@myanmargeneva.org
· Embassy of Myanmar in Brussels, Boulevard Général Wahis 9, 1030 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)32 2 705 50 48, Email: mebrussels@skynet.be

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

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