August 22, 2018
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Latpadaung protesters to be listed as political prisoners

Buddhist monks and other activists gather at Sarlingyi protest camp on November 28. That night, riot police moved in with batons and launched chemical fire bombs at the protesters, many of whom ended up in Monywa hospital with severe burns. Photo: Mizzima

Activists, Buddhist monks and farmers who were charged for protesting against the Latpadaung copper mine in Sagaing region will be included on a new list of political activists alongside those who are considered political prisoners, according to Nyo Tun, a member of the Myanmar government’s Political Prisoners Scrutiny Committee.

“We will send a new list of about 150 names to the secretary’s office,” said Nyo Tun, though he failed to mention which ministry this applied to. “Most of them are from armed factions. We have recently added the names of activists from the Letpadaung project, including Myint Aung who was charged under Section 18 of the Penal Code [protesting without permission].”

Nyo Tun noted that the Political Prisoners Scrutiny Committee does not have the right to release political prisoners or adjudicate their cases—only compile and submit lists.

The Former Political Prisoners Society (FPPS) estimates that there are about 200 political prisoners remaining behind bars in Myanmar.

“Some opposition politicians were imprisoned on trumped-up criminal charges,” said Tun Kyi, a member of the FPPS, adding that several of those were ethnic leaders who were charged under Section 17 (1), which forbids “contact with an illegal association”.

On February 6, President Thein Sein ordered the establishment of a committee to review the circumstances of each political prisoner’s detention. In May, the committee was reconstituted with 19 members.

The committee chairman is government minister Soe Thein. Other members include Nyo Tun; Ko Ko Gyi of the 88 Generation Students group; comedian and former detainee Zarganar; Nyan Win of the National League for Democracy; Bo Kyi of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners; Khun Htun Oo of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy; and Thein Nyunt of the New National Democracy Party.

On May 17, Myanmar government freed 23 political prisoners.

Related articles:

  1. President promises to free all political prisoners
  2. Political prisoner committee gives reason for hope and caution
  3. Govt blames ‘anarchic’ villagers for Latpadaung incident

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