Burma/Myanmar’s Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee Needs Urgent Reform

On the eve of the first anniversary of the death of U Win Tin, 20 organisations today call for urgent reform of Burma/Myanmar’s Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee.

On 21st April, people around the world will be wearing a blue shirt or blue clothing in memory of U Win Tin, who served nearly 20 years in jail as a political prisoner. U Win Tin famously pledged to wear a blue shirt, the same colour shirt he had to wear in prison, until all political prisoners in Burma were released. #‎blueshirt4burma

U Win Tin, a journalist and founding member of the National League for Democracy, was one of Burma/Myanmar’s longest serving political prisoners, describing his time in jail from 1989 until 2008 as living in hell.

On the first anniversary of the death of U Win Tin, at least 173 political prisoners remain in Burma/Myanmar’s jails, with a further 316 activists awaiting trial. The number of political prisoners has risen by almost 600 percent since the start of 2014.

Despite hundreds of political prisoners being released from 2011 to 2013, repressive laws remain in place, and new repressive laws, such as the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, have been introduced. These laws are being used by the government to intimidate, arrest and jail political activists and peaceful protestors. President Thein Sein did not keep his promise to release all political prisoners by the end of 2013. A new committee formed by the government of Burma/Myanmar to address the issues of political prisoners, the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee, excludes key civil society organisations, including the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners - Burma, the main organisation which works on political prisoner issues.

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/Myanmar.

We call for ten key reforms to the Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee.

A reformed Prisoners of Conscience Affairs Committee should:

1. Review the cases of all those charged or deprived of their liberty simply for the peaceful exercise of their human rights, with a view to securing their release and having the charges against them dropped;

2. Review all laws used to charge and detain political prisoners, and recommend to Parliament the repeal or amendment of all such laws to bring them in line with international human rights law and standards;

3. Formulate and present recommendations to the relevant authorities aimed at ending the abuse of the criminal law to fabricate criminal charges against individuals for politically motivated reasons;

4. Ensure that all conditions attached to the release of political prisoners are lifted;

5. Provide support and assistance to former political prisoners and their families by ensuring that they have effective access to restitution, compensation, assistance in gaining access to education and employment opportunities and other forms of rehabilitation to enable them to resume a normal life.

6. Share with the public its mandate, its terms of reference, and operational procedures, and publish regular activity reports;

7. Be properly resourced, receive appropriate support and co-operation from government offices, and be given access to prisons, prisons’ records and the authority to question relevant state officials;

8. Invite a sufficient number of additional members to join the Committee who are selected according to objective and relevant criteria, including their independence and expertise in human rights issues, so as to ensure that the Committee overall has adequate gender and ethnic representation, as well as expertise on gender issues and children’s rights. The Committee should be comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, including former political prisoners and their representatives;

9. Ensure resources are provided to build the human rights capacity of Committee members and seek technical assistance and advice from external experts in this regard;

10. Ensure the Committee’s programme of work is developed in consultation with former political prisoners, their families and representatives, and takes into account the different experiences of women and men.

The greatest tribute to the memory of U Win Tin would be to achieve his dream of the release of all political prisoners in Burma/Myanmar. We believe these reforms to the Committee would be a positive step towards achieving that goal.

Signed by

Actions Birmanie

All Arakan Students' and Youths' Congress (AASYC)


Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) AAPP

Association Suisse-Birmanie

Burma Action Ireland

Burma Campaign UK

Burma Link

Burma Partnership

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Fortify Rights

Forum for Democracy in Burma

Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)

Info Birmanie

Inter Pares

Network for Democracy and Development

Norwegian Burma Committee

Students and Youth Congress of Burma

Swedish Burma Committee

US Campaign for Burma




Echec des autorités birmanes !

Les autorités birmanes ont échoué à implémenter la plupart des recommandations  contenue dans la résolution 68/242 adoptée en 2013 par l'Assemblée des Nations Unies.

Consultez ici le rapport établi par l'ALTSEAN sur leur site : 

Developments After the 2013 UNGA Resolution.pdf


Reportage « Armes business et inégalités : la guerre oubliée de l’Etat Kachin en Birmanie »

Il y a exactement 3 ans, l’armée birmane a rompu un accord de cessez-le-feu conclu 17 ans plus tôt avec l’Armée Indépendante Kachin (KIA), la seconde armée non étatique du pays, et a lancé son offensive la plus importante depuis la fin des années 1940.

Depuis la reprise des combats, le 9 juin 2011, plus de 120 000 personnes ont été forcées de fuir leur maison et ont été déplacées. Au moins 200 villages ont été détruits.

Le reportage ci dessous, réalisé par l’organisation Burma Partnerhip en 2013 revient sur les raisons et les conséquences de ce conflit.




How can Aung San Suu Kyi – a Nobel Peace Prize winner – fail to condemn anti-Muslim violence?

I never thought I would write this, but Aung San Suu Kyi sent a shiver down my spine when she appeared on the Today programme this morning. Her equivocal attitude towards the violence suffered by Burma’s Muslim minority was deeply disturbing.

I’m sorry to say that she employed the standard devices used by people who want to play down – and avoid condemning – something utterly reprehensible.

The first common tactic is to draw a parity between perpetrators and victims. Suu Kyi duly said: “This is what the world needs to understand: that the fear is not just on the side of the Muslims, but on the side of the Buddhists as well.”

She went on: “Yes, Muslims have been targeted, but also Buddhists have been subjected to violence. But there’s fear on both sides and this is what is leading to all these troubles and we would like the world to understand: that the reaction of the Buddhists is also based on fear.”

Hang on a moment. Muslims are only 4 per cent of Burma’s population. The Rohingya Muslims, who have borne the brunt of the violence, are a smaller minority still. The idea that we should place the fears of the 90 per cent Buddhist majority alongside those of a small and vulnerable minority – and one that has been “targeted” for violence – is pretty extraordinary.

Suu Kyi then goes further by saying: “You, I think, will accept that there’s a perception that Muslim power, global Muslim power, is very great and certainly that is the perception in many parts of the world and in our country too.”

Global Muslim power? How powerful can a 4 per cent minority be, particularly when the Rohingya are explicitly forbidden from becoming citizens of Burma and therefore have no political weight whatever? What is Suu Kyi trying to say? That Buddhists in Burma are so terrified by “global Muslim power” that we shouldn’t be surprised when they turn on Muslims at home?

Suu Kyi also employs the second common device, namely to change the subject to something irrelevant. When Mishal Husain asked her to accept that 140,000 Muslims have been displaced by violence, Suu Kyi replied: “I think there are many, many Buddhists who have also left the country for various reasons. This is a result of our sufferings under a dictatorial regime.”

This is also completely irrelevant. If many Buddhist Burmese fled during the era of military dictatorship, this has no bearing whatever on the plight of the 140,000 Muslims who live in refugee camps today.

Suu Kyi then used the third standard tactic: uttering words of condemnation so general as to be meaningless. Asked to condemn a notorious Buddhist hate-preacher who compares Muslims to “dogs”, she said only: “I condemn hate of any kind.”

And then Mishal Husain asked her bluntly: “Do you condemn the anti-Muslim violence?” Suu Kyi replied: “I condemn any movement that is based on hatred and extremism.”

How could a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize fail to answer that question with a simple “Yes”?

By David Blair, October 24th, 2013



Joint Statement on Aung San Suu Kyi’s outrageous remarks on Muslims

Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) and Arakan Rohingya National Organisation (ARNO) strongly condemn Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for her outrageous comments on Muslims in an interview with BBC on Thursday, 24 October 2013.

Her remarks on Burma’s peaceful living Muslim minority communities are full of prejudice based on fanatical patriotism and islamophobia. In a situation of injustice, ethnic cleansing and genocide against Rohingya and other Muslims in Burma, she tried to defend Buddhist extremism saying that Buddhists in Burma are terrified by “global Muslim power” where there is no such threat from Burma’s numerically very small and insignificant Muslim population.  This is a pretext or a fictitious reason, where Burma is a predominantly Buddhist country, particularly when the Rohingya are rendered stateless with no basic freedoms, in order to conceal the real reason. 

Despite repeated requests, Suu Kyi refused to visit the Rohingya areas where credible organization like Human Rights Watch (HRW) had found evidences of mass graves in Arakan. Experts in international law, after examining all evidences, conclude that ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity have been perpetrated against the Rohingya population. Yet she rejects to accept and condemn these international crimes.

She remains indifferent to ongoing ‘Rohingya or Muslim extermination’, the great humanitarian disaster being faced by the Rohingyas in their squalid displacement camps and villages under siege in segregated and apartheid like situation and continued plight and dilemma of an estimated 1.5 million Rohingya diaspora and boat people around the world. She tries to befool the international community saying “A number of Buddhists had left the country during the era of dictatorship”. This remark is completely irrelevant.

It is very worrying that notorious anti-Muslim hate preachers have taken great encouragement from her words. She is not only pushing humanity towards interfaith antagonism but also reducing the possibilities of peace, tolerance and mutual coexistence amongst the country’s different societies, ethnic and religious groups. However, her behaviour does not reflect the position of the majority people as history testifies that Burma’s Buddhists and Muslims lived hand in hand, peacefully, for centuries.

It is unfortunate that Thein Sein’s government rejects and persecutes the Rohingya and other Muslims while some political parties and influential opposition leaders are apathetic audience applauding the oppressors.

Under the circumstance, we urge upon the United Nations to use its opportunity to include in its General Assembly resolutions on Burma, which they are currently drafting, the establishment of UN Commission of Inquiry into these crimes. This could establish the truth and make recommendations for action in the interest of international peace and security.

Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning that Islam advocates peace, love and harmony and decries all unjust violence; and we invite the attention of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all Burmese leaders to the positive and constructive aspects of Islam, its peaceful teachings and philanthropic philosophy and orientation.