Annual Report: Myanmar 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Myanmar 2013

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  • Several people were charged under the Peaceful Assembly and Procession law for organizing a peace march without a permit in September. The marchers passed through multiple townships and were facing charges in each.
  • In December, at least six activists were charged under section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession law for demonstrating without a permit on
  • 1 December in Yangon. They were expressing concern about the violent crackdown in November on protesters at the Monywa mine, Sagaing region.

Freedom of expression

On 20 August, the Ministry of Information announced the end of all pre-publication censorship procedures, and on the same day issued a strict set of publishing guidelines prohibiting, among other things, negative criticism of state policies. The Ministry still required articles to be submitted to the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division after publication.

In early August, the government created the Myanmar Core Press Council to serve as an interim body to monitor and address media issues until the new media law was enacted. There was strong opposition to its lack of independence, composition, and authority by journalists. A new interim Press Council was established in mid-September; more than half of its members were journalists.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

Hundreds of people, including children, were arbitrarily detained, held in incommunicado detention, and subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in places of detention without access to appropriate or adequate medical care. There continued to be some reports of torture and other ill-treatment, occasionally leading to death in custody.

  • Prisoner of conscience Dr Tun Aung remained behind bars. He was a medical doctor and chairman of the Islamic Religious Affairs Council in Maungdaw, Rakhine state. On 11 June, he was arrested for provoking communal riots in Maungdaw, and sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment in the second half of the year. He was believed to have been persecuted for his role as a Muslim community leader in Maungdaw.
  • Myo Myint Swe died in a police station in Yangon in July after he was accused of involvement in a murder. His body showed signs of torture.

Prisoner amnesties

The authorities released more than 8,500 prisoners, including hundreds of prisoners of conscience. Most were granted conditional releases under section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, violation of which could lead to re-imprisonment for the remainder of their sentence.

Death penalty

In early January, the President commuted the death sentences of all prisoners on death row to life imprisonment; however, at least 17 individuals received death sentences during the year.

Impunity

The National Human Rights Commission did not have the authority to receive and investigate complaints of human rights violations which had taken place prior to its formation on 5 September 2011. There was no comprehensive and independent mechanism to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, leaving victims and their relatives with inadequate access to measures of truth, justice and reparations. Many of those involved in grave human rights violations had not been brought to justice.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Myanmar in May, November and December.
  • Revisiting human rights in Myanmar (ASA 16/003/2012)
  • Myanmar: Meet immediate humanitarian needs and address systemic discrimination (ASA 16/008/2012)
  • Myanmar: Open letter to the Minister of Home Affairs
  • (ASA 16/016/2012)