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Myanmar

    February 24, 2020

    On 21 February 2020, Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was released from Insein prison in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, after having completed his prison sentence. Arrested on 12 April 2019 for social media posts critical of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution and the military’s role in politics, he was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment on 29 August 2019 under Section 505(a) of Myanmar’s Penal Code.

    He was released after just over ten months behind bars, after receiving routine sentence reductions. During trial he was denied bail on several occasions, despite major health concerns.   

    While we celebrate that Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi is free, the fact remains he should have never been arrested or imprisoned in the first place. His conviction should be quashed.  

    Amnesty International remains deeply concerned about the ongoing prosecution and imprisonment of activists and human rights defenders in Myanmar. We will continue to campaign for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, and all those detained solely for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

    February 24, 2020

    Nay Myo Zin © Amnesty International

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 13/20 HERE

    Three activists are facing prison sentences for giving speeches criticizing the military and calling for constitutional reform at a peaceful rally in April 2019. If convicted, they face up to two years in prison. Two of the men are on bail, while one is already serving one year in prison and facing further charges for speaking at other peaceful rallies. The Myanmar authorities should release him immediately and unconditionally, quash his conviction, and drop all remaining charges against the three activists. 

    Amnesty International believes the prosecution of the activists to be politically motivated and urges the government to immediately and unconditionally release Nay Myo Zin and drop all charges against the three men. 

    January 30, 2020

    Last week, in the lead up to the International Day of Education, Amnesty International once again pressed the government of Bangladesh and the international community to address the continuing failure to provide education to Rohingya refugee children, and the lack of educational opportunities for many children in host communities near the refugee camps in Bangladesh.

    What a difference a week makes! On Tuesday, the Bangladeshi government announced it will open up the prospect of going to school for hundreds of thousands of refugee children who have been denied that right for years.

    It is tremendous news, and Canada is well-placed to work with Bangladesh to ensure that vital promise becomes reality.

    The International Day of Education draws attention to the vital role that education plays in advancing peace and development in our world. It is grounded in recognition that access to education is an important human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and numerous other international treaties adopted over the decades. Recognition as well, though, that around the world it is a right far too frequently violated and ignored.

    January 16, 2020

    Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s two-day state visit to Myanmar, which begins on Friday 17 January 2020, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, Nicholas Bequelin, said:

    “President Xi’s government has expressed its desire to help solve the situation in Rakhine State. While this is welcome in principle, the reality is that China’s engagement has failed to yield positive results for the people of Myanmar.

    “China must stop using its position in the UN Security Council to shield Myanmar’s senior generals from accountability. This has only emboldened the military’s relentless campaign of human rights violations and war crimes against ethnic minorities across the country.

    “Almost a million Rohingya languish in refugee camps in Bangladesh while 600,000 still in Myanmar continue to live under appalling conditions of apartheid. If it fails to pressure Myanmar to ensure justice and restore Rohingya’s rights, China’s efforts to resolve the situation will remain ineffective – and counter-productive.

    December 11, 2019

    Responding to the statement made by Aung San Suu Kyi at the International Court of Justice in The Hague today, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

    “Aung San Suu Kyi tried to downplay the severity of the crimes committed against the Rohingya population. In fact, she wouldn’t even refer to them by name or acknowledge the scale of the abuses. Such denials are deliberate,  deceitful and dangerous.

    “The exodus of more than three quarters of a million people from their homes and country was nothing but the result of an orchestrated campaign of murder, rape and terror. To suggest that the military ‘did not distinguish clearly enough between fighters and civilians’ defies belief. Likewise, the suggestion that Myanmar authorities can currently and independently investigate and prosecute those suspected of crimes under international law is nothing but a fantasy, in particular in the case of senior military perpetrators who have enjoyed decades of total impunity.

    December 10, 2019
    ‘Rohingya Right of Reply’ public event on 11 December 2019

    Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counsellor and de facto head of state, is leading Myanmar’s delegation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, to respond to a case alleging that Myanmar has breached its obligations under the UN Genocide Convention. The case was filed by The Gambia on 11 November 2019.

    On Wednesday, 11 December 2019, Myanmar will respond to The Gambia's allegations in court for the first time.

    The first public hearings will take place between 10-12 December. The Gambia has asked the ICJ to order Myanmar to take ‘provisional measures’ ‘to protect the rights of the Rohingya group’ and prevent all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide against the community, pending formal hearings on the case.

    Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

    October 21, 2019

    Amnesty International has gathered fresh evidence that the Myanmar military is continuing to commit atrocities against ethnic minorities in the north of the country, with civilians bearing the brunt of offensives against multiple armed groups. The conflicts show no sign of abating, raising the prospect of further violations.

    A new report, “Caught in the middle”: Abuses against civilians amid conflict in Myanmar’s northern Shan State, details the harrowing conditions of civilians arbitrarily arrested, detained and tortured by the military. It also highlights the abusive tactics used by ethnic armed groups as they confront the military and each other to exert control in the region.

    “The Myanmar military is as relentless and ruthless as ever, committing war crimes against civilians in northern Shan State with absolute impunity,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southeast Asia. “Soldiers – and more importantly commanders – are subjecting civilians to the military’s hallmark brutality in the absence of any form of accountability.”

    October 09, 2019

    We're delighted that Aung Ko Htwe walked free on 6 September 2019 after completing the two years of his sentence. Thank you to the over 30,000 of you who took action and emailed the Myanmar authorities. We know building international pressure on cases like these makes a real impact.

    What happened?

    In October 2005 Aung Ko Htwe was kidnapped by the Myanmar military at the main railway station in Yangon – the country’s largest city – and forced to serve in the army. He was only 13 years old at the time.

    In 2017 he spoke out about what he experienced in a radio interview with Radio Free Asia, shortly after which he was arrested and charged under Section 505(b) of Myanmar’s Penal code – a vague law which severely restricts freedom of expression.

    He was sentenced to the maximum two years in jail.

    August 28, 2019

    Whether we asked about the possibility of going home to Myanmar or the challenges of life in Bangladesh, every Rohingya – old or young – who our Amnesty International delegation interviewed in the refugee camps said the same thing: human rights.

    With the release of our new report, “I Don’t Know What My Future Will Be”, Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh, Amnesty International is echoing that call and looking to the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh, with strong backing and resources from the international community, to ensure that violations end, past abuses are addressed and that the human rights of Rohingya, on both sides of the border, are fully respected and upheld. 

    It is a time for solidarity and for action.  There will be many opportunities for Amnesty International supporters to take action and demonstrate that solidarity over the coming weeks and months.

    August 22, 2019
    Spokespeople available for interviews

    With the threat of returns to Myanmar once again looming over Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Amnesty International warned that Rakhine State remains unsafe while those responsible for atrocities continue to evade justice. Action from the Canadian government is urged as the needs of refugees pivot from shorter-term humanitarian response, to sustained human rights protections.

    This Sunday marks two years since the Myanmar military launched operations in Rakhine State which forced more than 740,000 Rohingya women, men and children to flee their homes and villages. The brutal campaign was marked by widespread atrocities, which a UN investigation team has said amount to crimes against humanity and likely genocide.

    June 26, 2019

    Myanmar authorities should immediately end an internet shutdown imposed in conflict-affected areas of Rakhine and Chin States since 21 June 2019, said Amnesty International today. The shutdown has created an information black hole in an area where the Myanmar military has committed serious violations – including war crimes – raising serious concerns about the safety of civilians. It is essential that the Myanmar authorities ensure the right to information in times of crisis.

    June 17, 2019

    Tens of thousands of older women and men from ethnic minorities across Myanmar who faced military atrocities and were forced to flee their homes are being let down by a humanitarian system that often fails to adequately address their rights and needs, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    “Fleeing my whole life”: Older people’s experience of conflict and displacement in Myanmar is the organization’s first comprehensive investigation into the specific ways older people’s rights and dignity are not respected amid armed conflict and crisis, as well in the provision of humanitarian assistance.
     
    “For decades, Myanmar’s ethnic minorities have suffered recurrent abuse at the hands of the military. Many older people racked by atrocities amid recent military operations lived through similar crimes as children or younger adults. Their experience lays bare the military’s longstanding brutality, and the need for justice,” said Matthew Wells, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

    May 28, 2019
    New abuses come after government order to “crush” armed group Military units responsible for past atrocities are committing war crimes, while deployment of additional units suggests involvement of senior generals International community is failing – ICC referral urgently needed

    Following a recent investigation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Amnesty International has gathered new evidence that the Myanmar military is committing war crimes and other human rights violations. The military operation is ongoing, raising the prospect of additional crimes being committed.

    The new report, “No one can protect us”: War crimes and abuses in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, details how the Myanmar military, also known as the Tatmadaw, have killed and injured civilians in indiscriminate attacks since January 2019. The Tatmadaw forces have also carried out extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, and enforced disappearances.

    May 07, 2019

    Responding to news of the amnesty and release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East and Southeast Asia Director said:

    “Today marks an important victory for press freedom in Myanmar. The case against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo was a travesty of justice from start to finish and they should never have spent a day in prison.

    “While all those who campaigned for their release welcome the government’s decision, the reality is the country retains a range of repressive laws used to detain journalists, activists and any perceived critic of the authorities. Until these laws are repealed, journalists and activists remain under a permanent threat of detention and arrest.

    “In recent weeks, Amnesty International has recorded a surge in politically motivated arrests – most for criticism of the military. The government must follow through its rightful decision to free Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo by releasing all other journalists and prisoners of conscience detained on hollow charges, and by repealing all laws that keep a chokehold on freedom of expression.”

    April 23, 2019

    Responding to the decision by Myanmar’s Supreme Court to uphold the conviction and seven year prison sentence of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Nicholas Bequelin Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia said:

    “The Supreme Court’s rejection of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s appeal compounds a grave injustice and marks a dark day for press freedom in Myanmar. This case shows the authorities’ resolve to ensure there can be no independent reporting on the military’s atrocities in Rakhine State – even at the cost of debasing the country’s judicial system.

    “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are not isolated cases. In recent weeks, we have seen a disturbing surge in the number of people being arrested on politically motivated charges, most of them for criticism of the military.

    “Ahead of the 2020 general election, the international community must put much more pressure on the government to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and amend or repeal the oppressive laws that are being used to curtail freedom of expression.”

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