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Letter of Communication to UNHRC

Letter of Communication to UNHRC

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Published by: Burma Independence Advocates on Jan 13, 2012
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Human Rights Council and Treaties DivisionComplaint ProcedureOHCHR-UNOG1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Date: 4
January 2012.
Letter of CommunicationSubject:The Prolonged Detention of the Prisoners Who Violated the Oppressive and Unjust Political Laws
The President of the Union of the Republic of Myanmar (Burma), Thein Sein, issued an order of amnesty on2
January 2012 and approximately 30 ‘Political Prisoners’ or ‘Prisoners of Conscience’ or the ‘Prisoners
who violated the Oppressi
ve and Unjust Political Laws’ we
re released on the following day, 3
January2012. The government falsely claimed the order as an amnesty which is in fact the commutation of sentenceeffectively designed to continue incarcerates the leading political dissidents.As a result, between 500 and 1,600 political prisoners or the prisoners who violated the oppressive andunjust political laws remain in jails. This particular act explicitly points out the complete dishonesty anddeception of the government which is regretful for the people of Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and theNational League for Democracy (NLD) who have been strenuously working for national reconciliation, andthe international community that has been supporting the democratisation in Burma/Myanmar.Since President Thein Sein took office in March, 2011, the prisoners have been released in May and Octoberin 2011, and January 2012. Approximately 23,000 prisoners have been released in total and less than 400political prisoners or the prisoners who violated the oppressive and unjust political laws have been released.While a significant number of political prisoners remain in jails, more and more dissidents are sentencedsince Thein Sein came to power. The Thein Sein administration sentenced the former army captain, NayMyo Zin, ten years under Electronics Act in August 2011 and additional ten-year sentence against the journalist, Sithu Zeya, in September 2011 who was already sentenced eight years. More recently, the Central
Executive Committee member of the Karen National Union (KNU), Padoh Mahn Nyein Maung wassentenced seventeen years under the Unlawful Association Act.All these incidents reveal the travesty of justice and the lack of independent judiciary system in the countryunder Thein Sein led government. The continuous practice of oppressive laws such as the Electronics Act,the Unlawful Association Act and many others enacted under the SLORC/SPDC military regime indicatesthat the present rulers of the country are not willing to embark upon a genuine democratic change andremain loyal to authoritarian practices. The repeal of the existing laws that are designed to suppress thepolitical opponents in its entirety is a crucial step in the process of national reconciliation. Furthermore, thegovernment must ratify the United Nations international human rights treaties if it has a genuine will fornational reconciliation and transition to democracy.The National Human Rights Commission that formed in September 2011 also appears to be a state-controlled mechanism which is to cover up the human rights abuses committed by the government and tolessen the external pressures. The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) submitted aletter of appeal to the president on 10
October 2011 and subsequently the prisoners were released on 12
 October 2011. Again on 12
November 2011, the MNHRC sent an open letter to the president appealing forthe prison transfers. The leading political activists such as Min Ko Naing and a few other prisoners weretransferred to the prisons closer to Rangoon in the following week. As its latest activity, the MNHRC visitedInsein Prison, Myitkyina Prison and a labour camp in December 2011 and issued a statement denying theinhumane treatments of the political prisoners.All these incidents seem to be orchestrated by the government in order to project a false image that thenational human rights commission is working effectively to promote human rights in the country. However,in order to promote fundamental rights and freedoms in the country, particularly the civil and political rights,the National Human Rights Commission must be fully compliant with the Paris Principles.Furthermore, the government must admit the existence of political prisoners and stop classifying thepolitical prisoners as common criminals. Although the government classified the existing political prisonersas the ordinary prisoners who violated the laws instead of the political prisoners or the prisoners of conscience, these prisoners simply violated the oppressive and unjust political laws which effectively restrictbasic rights and freedoms. Thus, these prisoners have been charged for activities they committed which arenot for their personal interests and are for the greater good of the people and the country. Therefore, theactivities they committed are different to the common criminal offences which are either in the nature of personal interests or intended to have a negative impact on individuals.Although majority of political prisoners are charged under oppressive laws, many others are tried usingforged and planted evidence, and convicted of criminal offences which is a systematic degradation of thepolitical prisoners as common criminals. Therefore, such cases are needed independent reviews by thewidely respected team of professionals that consists of international legal experts. The trumped-up chargesare quite common for many political prisoners in Burma and not only these manipulated legal proceduresneed to be terminated and the sham trials which are performed at closed courts need to be discontinued.In order to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms in Burma effectively and to accelerate thecurrent process of reconciliation and restoration of democratic values in the country, we call on the UnitedNations Human Rights Council to take any appropriate measures for the emergence of independent judiciarysystem in Burma/Myanmar, the restoration of the rule of law and the abolishment of the existing oppressive

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