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Nonprofit says 89 political prisoners in Myanmar in July


Journalists Aye Nai (L) and Lawi Weng speak to journalists from inside a prisoner transport vehicle outside the courthouse in Hsipaw in Shan State on July 28, 2017. Photo: AFP

There were at least 89 political prisoners in Myanmar at the end of July, the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (Burma) said in its monthly review on Wednesday, while denouncing growing persecution against journalists through the use of outdated and repressive laws.

The organization said there are 225 people who have been oppressed over their political activities in Myanmar, 39 currently serving prison sentences and 50 more in prison awaiting trial, and another 136 awaiting trial outside of prison, charged under archaic laws like the Telecommunications Law or the Peaceful Assembly Law.

"The behaviour of previous regimes regarding media censorship and restrictions on freedom of expression should now also be expected in this allegedly transitioning political climate, and that the promises made a year ago, are unlikely to be upheld," it added.

AAPP also denounced the "systematic persecution of journalists and the stifling of free expression", and lamented that it took place despite the promises made by the Aung San Suu Kyi government to "make significant headway in abolishing human rights abuses."

Six journalists have been detained in the last three months in Myanmar, three of them accused of having "associated" with the ethnic guerrilla Ta'ang National Liberation Army.

Since the Suu Kyi government assumed power last year, there have been some 70 accusations of defamation under a rarely-used law.

Myanmar was governed by military regimes from 1962 until 2011, when a transition period began that allowed the democratic movement led by Suu Kyi to win the elections in 2015 and form a civilian government.

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