UK campaign group disappointed after around 90 political prisoners kept in Jail


A released prisoner leaves the main entrance of Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar, 17 April 2018. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA-EFE

Burma Campaign UK yesterday expressed disappointment at the apparent decision by Aung San Suu Kyi’s government to keep around 90 political prisoners in jail.

While the statement notes “The reported release of 36 political prisoners today is wonderful news for those political prisoners and their families, but [it] also represents a decision not to free around 90 other political prisoners currently in jail. Most of those kept in jail are being held awaiting trial so have not even been convicted. This includes Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists currently on trial.”

It continues, “Most worryingly, it also appears to be a return to the military era approach of using the selective release of political prisoners on key dates for public relations purposes, rather than the NLD-led government making serious attempts to end once and for all the decades' long problem of political prisoners in Burma.

Instead of repealing repressive laws used to jail political prisoners, use of repressive laws to silence dissent has increased since the NLD came to power. State media has carried propaganda features defending and promoting the usefulness of repressive laws, and new repressive laws have been proposed.”

“There is joy for some families today but many more families will be feeling sadness that Aung San Suu Kyi has decided to keep their loved one in jail,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “With the use and scope of repressive laws being increased rather than repealed, it seems that under the NLD government there is no end in sight to the scourge of political prisoners in Burma’s jails. Aside from occasional high profile cases, the international community is now mostly silent about the continued detention of political prisoners. This must change. The NLD-led government needs to face international pressure over the detention of political prisoners just as the previous military dictatorship did.”

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