• Press Release

Release of Student Leader in Myanmar Must Lead to More Reform

April 8, 2016

MEDIA CONTACT: Mandy Simon, [email protected] 

(NEW YORK, NY) – Following the release of dozens of student protestors in Myanmar earlier today, the Tharawaddy Court in Myanmar released several more protestors including Phyoe Phyoe Aung, a student leader, and her husband, Lin Htet Naing. The move came after the new government announced on April 7 that it would work to release all prisoners of conscience as soon as possible.

The detention of Phyoe Phyoe Aung and Lin Htet Naing followed nationwide student protests, which started in 2014 and ended with the beating of students by police in Letpadan in March 2015. Scores of students and their supporters were arrested and detained throughout the country. Phyoe Phyoe Aung was arrested along with over 100 other student activists over a year ago at a largely peaceful protest in support of academic freedom, and she had remained in police custody since.

“Phyoe Phyoe Aung’s release, along with many others today, is a victory for human rights and human rights defenders,” said Jasmine Heiss, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA’s Individuals at Risk Program. “It is clear now how easily prisoners of conscience can be freed when there is political will to do so. The government of Myanmar must release all remaining prisoners of conscience and, further, ensure wholesale reform of all laws that violate the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, so that the country can end the cycle of politically motivated arrest and imprisonment once and for all. Phyoe Phyoe Aung and other human rights defenders are vital to shaping the country's future, so it’s crucial that the government work to create space in civil society for them to operate freely.”

On 24 March 2016, Amnesty International published a report on political imprisonment in Myanmar which highlights how authorities have used both old and new laws to silence dissent, and how the use of these laws has been supported by a range of other tactics to keep human rights defenders and activists in detention or in prison for lengthy periods of time, creating a climate of fear among human rights defenders and other activists in the country.

New expression meets old repression: ending the cycle of political arrest and imprisonment in Myanmar is available here: https://www.amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/new-government-in-myanmar-must-break-vicious-cycle-of-repression-and-political-arrests

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.