NGOs call for the establishment of an independent political prisoner review mechanism


U Win Tin, the co-founder of the National League for Democracy, reading Mizzima's new weekly journal. Photo: Mizzima

On the occasion of the third anniversary of the death of U Win Tin, 22 organisations, including Amnesty International, are calling for the immediate release of all individuals detained or imprisoned on fabricated, politically motivated charges, and for the establishment of an independent and effective prisoner review mechanism to bring about an end to arbitrary arrests and detentions in Burma/Myanmar, the organisations said in a statement on 20 April.

U Win Tin, who served nearly 20 years in jail as a prisoner of conscience, famously pledged to wear a blue shirt, the same colour shirt he had to wear in prison, until all political prisoners in the country were released. On 21st April, people around the world will be wearing a blue shirt or blue clothing in solidarity with U Win Tin's call.

One year after the NLD-led government took power, and despite a series of prisoner releases, there are still scores of people behind bars as a result of politically motivated arrest and imprisonment. Repressive laws which arbitrarily restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly remain in place, and authorities continue to use them to intimidate, arrest and jail human rights defenders, other peaceful activists, and members of ethnic minorities, the statement said. 

In addition, the civilian-led government has yet to take effective action to address the country's long history of politically motivated arrest, detention and imprisonment. 

The organisations noted that in her most recent report to the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar has recommended that the government undertake by October 2017 "a comprehensive review of all cases, based on broad and public consultations with all relevant stakeholders in view of the discrepancies in the numbers of remaining political prisoners."

The statement says, “Our organisations believe that the establishment of an independent, effective and properly resourced prisoner review mechanism with a clear mandate and procedures to address both short and long-term issues relating to spurious politically motivated prosecution would be an important step to address the decades-long problem of political imprisonment in Burma/Myanmar.”

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