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Jailed for Calling Themselves Rohingya

By Burma Campaign UK  •  July 20, 2015

Burma Campaign UK today urged the High Representative of the European External Action Service, Federica Mogherini, to take action to free Rohingya community leaders, Ba Thar, Kyaw Khin, Kyaw Myint and Hla Myint, and to pressure the military-backed government in Burma to reform the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee.

Ba Thar, Kyaw Khin, Kyaw Myint and his son Hla Myint were arrested in April 2013 for taking part in a community protest against the government-led population registration exercise. The exercise did not allow members of the community to identify as Rohingya, and protests forced the government to suspend the registration exercise.

The three community leaders were falsely accused of using violence during the protest. They have been targeted by the military-backed government because they are influential Rohingya community leaders calling for the recognition of the Rohingya identity.

On 3rd March 2015, the Rakhine State Divisional Court sentenced Ba Thar, Kyaw Myint and Hla Myint to 8 years imprisonment. Kyaw Khin was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.

A new prisoner committee formed by the government to address the issues of political prisoners, the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee, excludes key civil society organisations. Fundamental reforms to the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee are needed if it is to start to address the decades-long problem of political prisoners in Burma.

“These community leaders were jailed simply because they want to be recognised as Rohingya,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director at Burma Campaign UK. “The Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee should be reformed to ensure that all political prisoners, including Ba Thar, Kyaw Win, Kyaw Myint and Hla Myint, are released unconditionally.”

Media contact : Anna Roberts on 07950849529.

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