Monthly Chronology – January 2010

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Summary of current situation

There are a total of 2,195 political prisoners in Burma. This is an overall increase of 18 in comparison to last month’s figure of 2,177. In January, 3 activists were arrested, and 1 was released. The AAPP also received information about activists who were arrested and released before January 2010, and this retroactive information explains why there is actually an overall increase of 18 this month.

These include:

CATEGORY

NUMBER

Monks

253

Members of Parliament

12

Students

283

Women

180

NLD members

429

Members of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters network

34

Ethnic nationalities

210

Cyclone Nargis volunteers

3o

Teachers

28

Media activists

42

Lawyers

12

In poor health

129

Since the protests in August 2007 leading to September’s Saffron Revolution, a total of 1,166 activists have been arrested and are still in detention.

Monthly Trend Analysis

During the month of January 2010, at least 3 activists were arrested, 4 were sentenced, 5 were transferred, and 1 was released. At least 128 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 month of January began with significant fanfare as Senior-General Than Shwe and the ruling military junta confirmed that national elections would take place in 2010. A date was not specified; however, insiders claim that elections will take place in September. Critics, including NLD leaders, have expressed concern that the elections will not be carried out in a free and fair manner, and thus will be used to legitimize the ruling generals’ control over the nation. Furthermore, it is as of yet unknown whether detained NLD leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the other 2,100+ political prisoners across Burma will be eligible to run for office or vote in the elections.

January also saw the continuation of Daw Suu’s appeal of her latest three-year sentence, which was subsequently commuted to one and a half year of house arrest by Senior-General Than Shwe. Lawyers from both sides have made their final arguments, and a ruling is expected in February. In late January, unconfirmed reports emerged suggesting that Daw Suu would be released in November, after the rumored date of the national elections. Daw Suu maintains that these reports were leaked in an attempt to influence the court with regard to her appeal.

The final arguments of detained naturalized U.S. citizen Nyi Nyi Aung’s trial were heard in January as well. The verdict, which was originally expected in late January, has been postponed until 10 February. Also of note in January was the handing down of the death penalty to two government officials accused of leaking sensitive information to exile news agencies. Additionally, Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) launched a campaign in support of two imprisoned journalists, Ngwe Soe Lin and Hla Hla Win, and AAPP called for the immediate release of poet, Saw Wei, who was due to be released on 21 January, but remains incarcerated as of 31 January.

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