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Kachin Civilian Sentenced to 2 Years in Jail on False Charges

By Burma Campaign UK  •  July 19, 2013

On Thursday 18th July Brang Shawng was sentenced to two years in jail, just three days after Burma’s President Thein Sein visited the UK and repeated a past promise of releasing all political prisoners by the end of the year.  The British government has failed to secure any new concrete commitments on improving human rights during Thein Sein’s visit, but had attempted to deflect criticism by pointing to this promise.

Burma Campaign UK has highlighted Brang Shawng’s case as part of the No Political Prisoner Left Campaign and has been campaigning for his immediate unconditional release. He has already spent a year in detention.

Brang Shawng is a 25-year-old Kachin farmer who was living in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp with his family after fleeing from conflict areas in the Northern part of Burma. He was arrested under suspicion of being a captain of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and carrying out bombing operations near Myitkyina. The KIA is an armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation, which works for democracy and more autonomy for Kachin people in Burma.

While he was in interrogation he was tortured brutally and forced to confess to the different bombings in the area.  He was seen with several wounds on his body when he was brought out to trial. According to his lawyers, Brang Shawng had knife scares and bruises on his cheeks, thighs and the skin on his calves showed evidence of extensive peeling. Although his health has deteriorated, he has been denied from receiving any medical treatment.

He was charged under section 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act and was sentenced to 2 years in jail.

“William Hague once said judge Thein Sein by his actions, not his words, and he is now looking very foolish for ignoring his own advice,” said Wai Hnin, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “Hundreds of activists and innocent people have been arrested and thrown into jail since Thein Sein became President. Hague seems to think abandoning political prisoners is a price worth paying if it means British companies win contracts from the Burmese government.”

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