Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

Monthly Chronology – March 2010

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma  •  April 9, 2010

Summary of current situation

There are a total of 2,186 political prisoners in Burma, an overall increase in comparison to last month’s figure of 2,185.  In March, 3 activists were arrested and 3 political prisoners were released.  The AAPP also received information about activists who were arrested and released before March 2010, and this retroactive information explains why there is actually an overall increase of 1 this month. These include:

  • 253 Monks
  • 12  Members of Parliament
  • 282 Students
  • 177 Women
  • 431 NLD members
  • 33 Members of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters network
  • 210 Ethnic nationalities
  • 20 Cyclone Nargis volunteers
  • 29 Teachers
  • 12 Doctors
  • 41 Media activists
  • 11 Lawyers
  • 137 in poor health

Since the protests in August 2007 leading to September’s Saffron Revolution, a total of 1,161 activists have been arrested and are still in detention.

Monthly Trend Analysis

During the month of March 2010, at least 3 activists were arrested, 2 were sentenced, 3 were transferred, and 3 were released.  At least 137 political prisoners are in poor health due to the harsh prison conditions, transfers to remote prisons where there are no doctors, and the denial of proper medical care.

Highlighting the month of March was the contentious release of the junta’s election laws for the upcoming 2010 national elections.  Under these election laws all current political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, are prohibited from participating in the elections. The laws prohibit anyone convicted by a court from joining a political party, and instruct parties to expel members undergoing criminal sentences or face dissolution. Accordingly, the National League for Democracy (NLD) must expel Daw Suu and the other 430 NLD members in prison in order to gain eligibility to contest the election or cease to exist as a political party.  The election laws were largely condemned by the international community, with the United States, Britain, and the Philippines issuing strong statements.  The NLD, which has long demanded the release of all political prisoners as well as a review of the 2008 constitution as prerequisites for its participation in the elections, declared that it will boycott the elections, thus setting the stage for the termination of their existence as a legal political entity.  Several other political parties have followed suit, while other parties have proceeded with the registration process. The junta has not yet released a date for the elections, though sources indicate that it will take place in October or November
At the international level, of significance this month, was the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). A key recommendation of the the report was to consider establishing a commission of inquiry with a specific fact-finding mandate to investigate possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma. He also called for the release of all political prisoners, urging that “[w]ithout full participation, including by the 2100 prisoners of conscience, and an environment that allows people and parties to engage in the range of electoral activities, the elections can not be credible.”

In March, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) celebrated its 10th anniversary in Mae Sot, Thailand.  The event was attended by over 100 former political prisoners, and also coincided with the release of a new AAPP report titled “The Role of Political Prisoners in the National Reconciliation Process,” which calls on the international community to pressure the military junta to release all political prisoners, review the 2008 constitution, and engage in a tripartite dialogue for national reconciliation.

The DVB film, Burma VJ, which had been nominated for ‘Best Documentary’ at the Academy Awards, fell short of the prize, which instead went to the documentary The Cove.  DVB continues to lobby on behalf of the journalists imprisoned during the filming of Burma VJ and other video journalism initiatives inside Burma.

Download the full report

Tags: ,

This post is in: Political Prisoners, Resources

Related Posts
AAPP calls for adequate healthcare for political prisoners in Burma
Justice for the Killing of Journalist by Burma Army Must be Found
AAPP’s Statement Regarding the Death of Freelance Journalist Aung Kyaw Naing, aka Par Gyi
AAPP (B) Submission to the UN General Assembly
“Winds of Change” Blow a Gale of Human Rights Abuses