NGO calls for repeal of repressive protest laws
|U Sein Than, protest leader, at a court hearing at Yangon West Court, Yangon, September 10, 2014. Photo: Bo Bo/Mizzima|
Burma Campaign UK has launched a campaign to call on the Myanmar government to repeal the protest law and other repressive laws used to jail political activists and call for the release of political activist U Sein Than, jailed for two years for a peaceful protest.
The UK-based NGO called February 5 for people to email President U Thein Sein calling on him to free U Sein Than, the most prominent victim of the laws, and repeal the repressive laws used to jail him and other political activists.
Several other local and foreign activist groups have called for the repeal of the laws, claiming they hamper the freedom of citizens to protest peacefully, with courts delivering harsh sentences out of all proportion to their alleged “crimes.” Amnesty International has the activist on its list of prisoners of conscience and continues to call for his release.
U Sein Than was jailed after taking part in and leading peaceful protests in support of people demanding compensation or return of their land that was confiscated by the military.
“Sein Than is one of a growing number of political prisoners jailed under a new and more repressive law than under the military dictatorship,” said U Wai Hnin, campaigns officer at Burma Campaign UK. “Sein Than is basically in jail for standing on a pavement without government permission. Laws used to jail peaceful protestors and activists must be repealed immediately.”
U Sein Than was arrested on July 31, 2014 for taking part in and leading peaceful protests in Yangon. The protesters were calling for the government to solve the land disputes in Yangon which took place in the early 1990s.
He was charged under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Law for protesting without government permission, and the Yangon Municipal Act for disrupting sidewalks during his peaceful protests. Five different township courts filed lawsuits against U Sein Than under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly Law.
In September 2014, he was given a four month penal labour prison sentence under the Yangon Municipal Act, and was given a one year and six month prison sentence under Article 18. He is currently living out his sentence in Insein prison.