In April the new National League for Democracy-led government in Myanmar/Burma freed over 80 political prisoners. This follows leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s declaration that there should be no political prisoners in a democratic country.
Those released include the five journalists known as the Unity 5, who were imprisoned in 2014 for publishing an article in the Unity newspaper about an alleged secret chemical weapons factory. Canterbury and Wye Amnesty Groups have campaigned for their release.
However, in spite of these welcome releases there are still serious human rights abuses in Myanmar. The authorities have failed to address the alarming rise in religious intolerance and violence, with minority ethnic groups the main target. Around 140,000 of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority remain in refugee camps, suffering severe privation. Rohingyas also face restrictions on their freedom of movement and have limited access to healthcare, education and employment.
Many political prisoners also remain behind bars, including U Gambira, one of the monks who led the 2007 ‘saffron revolution’. Hopefully Aung San Suu Kyi will soon fulfil her pledge to empty Myanmar’s prisons of political prisoners and prisoners-of- conscience.
For more information on Burma/Myanmar or to campaign for U Gambira’s release, contact Nola Weerwag, the Amnesty country co-ordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org