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Update: Imprisoned Human Rights Defender, Naw Ohn Hla, Faces Additional Charges Related to Campaigns for Land Rights

By Front Line Defenders  •  November 5, 2013

Human rights defender, Ms Naw Ohn Hla, is facing thirty-three additional charges in relation to her work protecting land rights in Burma. In August 2013, she was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for disturbing public tranquillity. Naw Ohn Hla is being held in Mandalay prison.

Naw Ohn Hla has been a human rights defender and land rights activist for decades. She campaigned for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi while she was under house arrest. Naw Ohn Hla has been imprisoned more than seven times since 1989 for her peaceful efforts to free political prisoners and assist Buddhist monks during the 2007 uprising, and she has been active in campaigning against the Letpadaung mining project in northern Burma.

Naw Ohn Hla faces thirty-three new charges alleging violations of Section 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law and section 505 (b) of the Burmese Penal Code. Naw Ohn Hla is due to stand trial for these charge in six township courts in Yangon, namely: Botataung Township, Kyauktada Township, Pabedan Township, Sanchaung Township, Bahan Township, and Mingala Taungnyunt Township. She was due to be transferred to Insein prison in Yangon by the end of October 2013, but the Burmese Minister of Home Affairs has prevented the transfer. Naw Ohn Hla remains detained in Mandalay prison.

On 29 August 2013, the human rights defender was found guilty of disturbing public tranquillity under Section 505 (b) of the Burmese Penal Code and sentenced to two years in prison. According to reports from Naw Ohn Hla’s lawyer, Robert Sann Aung, she has decided not to appeal her sentence due to her lack of confidence in the Burmese justice system.

Front Line Defenders is concerned that these provisions have been invoked systematically to target human rights defenders in Burma. It is believed that all of the charges against Naw Ohn Hla are related to her role in leading peaceful demonstrations against the Letpadaung mining project. To read more about her case, please see the Urgent Appeal issued on 5 September 2013.

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