These are the imprisoned human rights activists and defenders in Myanmar
Amnesty International today launched a new briefing on activists and human rights defenders jailed across Myanmar, including students, a journalist, satirical performers, an environmental activist, a labour rights activist and trade union members, and a Buddhist monk.
Here are some of their portraits and personal stories:
Saw Wai is facing two years in prison for reciting a poem at a peaceful rally calling for amendments to Myanmar’s 2008 Constitution, which entrenches the military’s power in the country. Saw Wai started writing poetry when he was 14 years old. In 2008, he was sentenced to two years in prison for penning “February 14” – a coded critique of the military disguised as a love poem in which he called General Than Shwe (the then-head of the military government) power crazy.
Two other activists - Kyee Myint, a lawyer, Nay Myo Zin, a former military captain, are also facing the same charges for giving speeches at the rally. Nay Myo Zin is already serving one year in prison and facing additional charges for speaking at other peaceful rallies.
Nyein Chan Soe is a final year math student and a member of the “Peacock Generation”, a troupe who perform a traditional type of satirical poetry called Thangyat, and whose members have been targeted for arrest and prosecution by the Myanmar authorities.
He and six other members were charged for a series of peaceful satirical performances criticizing the military. Some of the performances were also streamed online. He was acquitted after spending six months and a day in detention. His detention meant he lost his part time job, which he relied on to support his family and education. He also failed his final year of university because he couldn’t undertake an assignment from prison.
The other six members have been sentenced to between two and three years in prison. They are all currently imprisoned in Insein prison, Yangon.
Nan Lin is one of five people facing charges after they attended a court hearing to show support for members of the Peacock Generation in May 2019. Nan Lin’s girlfriend, Su Yadanar Myint, is one of the group. When the detainee arrived at the court, they accused police of using force to handcuff them, which led to a scuffle between police and Peacock Generation supporters. One officer was reportedly injured. Nan Lin and five others were subsequently charged in connection with the incident, and are each facing five years in prison.
Saw Tha Phoe is an ethnic Karen environmental activist. Police are investigating him after he had supported a community in Kayin State, southeastern Myanmar, in raising its concerns about the environmental and social impacts of a nearby cement factory. He has been charged with “incitement” and is currently in hiding, fearful of arrest. He faces up to two years in prison if found guilty of the charge.
Tags: MYANMAR, CENSORSHIP AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, LIBERTY.
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