Myanmar Authorities Close Hundreds of Cases Against Activists

2016-08-16
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Relatives check lists of Myanmar prisoners due for release at Insein prison in Yangon, April 8, 2016.
Relatives check lists of Myanmar prisoners due for release at Insein prison in Yangon, April 8, 2016.
AFP

Authorities in Myanmar have closed more than 450 cases against activists following requests from the nation’s top two leaders, Tin Myint, permanent secretary of the Home Affairs Ministry, said Tuesday.

“We have closed 457 cases against activists because of requests from [State Counselor] Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw,” he said at a press conference in the capital Naypyidaw, where representatives from four ministries discussed what they had accomplished during the new civilian-led government’s “100-day” reform plan.

Other permanent secretaries from the home affairs, construction, transportation and communication, and social welfare, relief and resettlement ministries were also on hand.

“These cases are different from those of the activists freed during the presidential amnesty,” he said, in a reference to the civilian-led government’s release of up to 200 political prisoners, including political activists and students facing trials for their involvement in a protest against the National Education Law.

They were released just before the start of the country’s New Year holiday on April 11, a time when the president traditionally grants amnesty to prisoners.

Many activists had been prosecuted under Articles 505(b) and 143 of the country’s penal code, as well as Article 18 of the country’s Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law.

Authorities had routinely charged activists under these articles which pertain to unlawful assembly and inciting the public to commit “acts against the state.”

On April 17, President Htin Kyaw announced the release of 83 additional political prisoners.

Within days after Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party came to power at the beginning of April, the state counselor made the release of political prisoners and detained students an urgent government priority.

Reported by Win Naung Toe for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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