Summary of current situation
There are a total of 2,199 political prisoners in Burma. This is an overall increase of 13 in comparison to last month’s figure of 2,186. In April, 12 activists were arrested and 3 political prisoners were released. The AAPP also received information about activists who were arrested and released before April 2010, and this retroactive information explains why there is actually an overall increase of 13 this month.
Since the protests in August 2007 leading to September’s Saffron Revolution, a total of 1,174 activists have been arrested and are still in detention.
Monthly Trend Analysis
During the month of April 2010, at least 12 activists were arrested, 2 were sentenced, 1 was transferred, and 3 were released. At least 142 political prisoners are in poor health due to the harsh prison conditions, transfers to remote prisons where there are no doctors, and the denial of proper medical care.
The continuing fallout resulting from the passage of last month’s election laws, which most observers expect to result in the dissolution of the National League for Democracy (NLD), highlighted the month of April. News related to political prisoners, specifically, was fairly sparse this month, though it is expected that the dissolution of the NLD and upcoming national elections will have an enormous impact on the political prisoner landscape going forward. Specifically, analysts expect the junta to target legal action against former NLD members once the legal protection of their party is no longer in place. In response to the impending abolition of their party, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders have separately filed lawsuits with the chief justice and Supreme Court, respectively, calling the election laws unjust and unfair.
Significant international outcry resulted from the election laws and the impending dissolution of the NLD, with numerous ASEAN lawmakers calling for sanctions against Burma as well as their potential expulsion from the regional body. Additionally, the European Union decided to extend sanctions against Burma as a result of their failure to implement democratic reforms.
In April, a bomb that ripped through New Year’s celebrations in Rangoon resulted in the deaths of 10 people, and wounded 170 more. AAPP expresses its deepest condolences for the victims of the bombings, and is concerned that the bombings might lead to an increase in the harassment and arrest of political dissidents, as has occurred in the past. Several people were arrested in April in connection to the bombing.
Prominent DVB journalist Hla Hla Win’s appeal to the Mandalay Division Supreme Court was rejected in late April, while imprisoned blogger Nay Phone Latt won the prestigious PEN/Barbara Goldsmith award for his role in disseminating news during the 2007 Saffron Revolution and was also named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.
Thanks N Regards,
Aung Myo Thein