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Myanmar to define 'political prisoner' through parliament

Publication Date : 03-09-2013

 

A government-backed committee will attempt to define the term "political prisoner" through the Myanmar parliament, according to a meeting held with human rights organisations.

The Remaining Political Prisoners Scrutiny Committee held a meeting in Yangon on August 30 attended by President Office Minister Soe Thein, Deputy Minister Aung Thein and 15 other committee members.

"Community-based organisations and political parties are required to work together to find out comprehensive definition of political prisoners. When this matter is put on the agenda in parliament, it will be passed as law," said Bo Kyi, joint-secretary for the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). 

AAPP is a human rights organisation set up by former detainees that works for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar. Bo Kyi was replying to questions by reporters after the meeting.

"According to the temporary agreement, political prisoners are defined as any individual who is detained or being legally punished for participating in various forms of political activity due to a belief that it would serve the interest of the country and its people," added Bo Kyi.

He called for departmental organisations to participate in scrutinising the remaining political prisoners, despite there being fewer political prisoners behind the bars now than before. Many of those still detained are members of ethnic armed groups who have been fighting the central government for decades.

"Members of ethnic armed groups had to be detained due to a belief that it would serve the interest of a national race and its people. They were recognised as political prisoners. Exact data on detained members of ethnic armed groups have not been received," said Ye Aung, a member of the committee.

Both the committee and human rights organisations have asked the Correctional Department for the list of prisoners currently detained under the Section 17, or the establishment of unofficial association as defined by the previous military regime.

The meeting also discussed how to make sure that none of the remaining political prisoners would remain behind bars by the end of the year.

 

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