Myanmar: five journalists sentenced to 10 years in prison; 50 others face charges for a peaceful protest

English PEN is seriously concerned that five journalists have been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Myanmar, whilst 50 others are facing charges for peacefully protesting the sentence

According to PEN’s information, five journalists with the Unity Weekly journal, arrested in January and February 2014, were each sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labour on 10 July 2014. The charges relate to a report on an alleged secret chemical weapons factory which featured in the publication in January.

Fifty other journalists who staged a peaceful protest against the sentences on 12 July are now also reported to be facing charges.

We join PEN International in calling for the five journalists to be released immediately and unconditionally and for any charges that relate solely to the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression or assembly to be dropped.

For further background information, please visit the PEN International website.

TAKE ACTION

Send appeals:

  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of journalists Lu Maw Naing, Yarzar Oo, Paing Thet Kyaw, Sithu Soe and Tint San who have been imprisoned solely in connection with their professional activities;
  • Seeking assurances that the five men are protected from torture or other ill-treatment, that they will not be transferred to remote prisons, that they have regular access to family members and lawyers of their choosing, and that they receive all necessary medical treatment;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all other prisoners of conscience in Myanmar, and for the charges against any person arrested solely for the peaceful exercise of his or her right to freedom of expression to be dropped;
  • Calling for all laws which impose unlawful restrictions on the right to freedom of expression to be repealed or amended in line with international human rights standards.

Appeals to:

President
Thein Sein
President’s Office
Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Salutation: Your Excellency
 
Minister of Home Affairs
Lt Gen. Ko Ko
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Salutation: Dear Minister

And copies to:

Chairman, Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
U Win Mra
27 Pyay Road, Hline Township
Yangon
Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Myanmar in your country if possible, asking them to forward it to the Burmese authorities and welcoming any comments.

His Excellency Mr U Kyaw Zwar Minn
Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
19A Charles St
London
W1J 5DX
Fax: 020 7409 7043
Email: ambassadoroffice@myanmarembassylondon.com

Or you could use the form below. A sample letter is provided but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.

[ecampaign ‘to=ambassadoroffice@myanmarembassylondon.com’ subject=”Freedom for journalists in Myanmar”]

Your Excellency

I am writing to you as a supporter of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to call for the immediate release of five journalists from the Unity Weekly journal.

According to PEN’s information, journalists Lu Maw Naing, Yarzar Oo, Paing Thet Kyaw, Sithu Soe and Tint San, arrested in January and February 2014, were each sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labour on 10 July 2014. It is widely believed that they have been imprisoned solely in connection with their professional activities.

I join PEN in calling for the immediate and unconditional release of journalists Lu Maw Naing, Yarzar Oo, Paing Thet Kyaw, Sithu Soe and Tint San. In the meantime, I urge the authorities to ensure that the five men are protected from torture or other ill-treatment, that they will not be transferred to remote prisons, that they have regular access to family members and lawyers of their choosing, and that they will receive all necessary medical treatment.

Meanwhile, fifty other journalists who staged a peaceful protest against the sentences on 12 July are now reported to be facing charges. I join PEN in calling on the authorities to ensure that any charges that relate solely to the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression or assembly be dropped immediately. Furthermore, I call for all laws which impose unlawful restrictions on the right to freedom of expression to be repealed or amended in line with international human rights standards.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,

[/ecampaign]

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