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Arrest of Human Rights Defender, Mr Tin Htut Pai

By Front Line Defenders  •  December 6, 2013

On 3 December 2013, Mr Tin Htut Pai was arrested for his involvement in commemorating the one-year anniversary of the protests against the Letpadaung mining project. Tin Htut Pai is currently detained at Insein prison, where he is able to meet his family members but has not been permitted to see his lawyer.

Tin Htut Pai is the founder of Generation Youth, an organisation that advocates for youth empowerment and campaigns against land confiscation. He is involved in the protests against Letpadaung copper mining project, which operates in Monywa, Sagaing Region. The project is owned by the Wan Bao Company from China and the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, owned by the Burmese Ministry of Defence.

On 29 November 2013, the human rights defender demonstrated to mark the one year anniversary of the crackdown on the Letpadaung mining project protests. A year earlier, on 29 November 2012, dozens of protesters were injured and some suffered chemical burns from the white phosphorous used by police to disperse the crowd. The anniversary demonstration demanded that Letpadaung mining project, which is backed by the Chinese government, leaves the area.

On 3 December 2013, Tin Htut Pai was arrested under Section 505 (b) of the Burmese Penal Code, on grounds of engaging in activities which may “cause, or […] [are] likely to cause fear or alarm to the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity”. If charged, Tin Htut Pai could face a sentence of two years’ imprisonment and a fine. It is reported that no arrest warrant was shown to him, and he was informed of his arrest under Section 505 (b) only when he arrived at the police station for questioning. Tin Htut Pai had been informed by police that he would face trial on the following day, but he was sent to Insein prison, where he remains to date. His reported trial date is 10 December 2013 at 10:00 in Dagon Township Court.

Front Line Defenders expresses serious concern about the criminalisation of peaceful protesters in their campaign against the Letpadaung mining project. Other human rights defenders, such as Naw Ohn Hla, have been similarly targeted by Burmese officials using public order legislation. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, has stated that section 505(b) of the Burmese penal code contravenes Burma’s international human rights obligations.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Burma to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Tin Htut Pai as it is believed they are solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights;
  2. Carry out a thorough, impartial and immediate investigation into the incidents of 29 November 2012 with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Burma are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
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This post is in: Press Release

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