Public statement by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners
Date: August 27, 2007
(August 27th, 2007) A minimum of one hundred
human rights activists and peaceful protesters were arrested by
security forces and civilian militias of Than Shwe’s military
regime in Burma from August 21st – 25th, 2007. The regime
falsely reported that only 64 protestors were arrested, including
famed activist Min Ko Naing.
The protests began after the Than Shwe’s
regime suddenly increased fuel prices by up to 250%, resulting
in huge increases in the price of basic commodities. The move
puts basic survival out of reach for many people of Burma.
The Assistance Association for Political
Prisoners (AAPP), which monitors closely the arbitrary arrests,
torture and imprisonment of democracy activists by the Burmese
military junta, today, issued a list of 100 names of those arrested.
The list refutes the claims of the regime’s newspaper “Light
of Myanmar” report of August 25th.
The AAPP, which is staffed by former political
prisoners from Burma, calls for Than Shwe’s regime to respond
to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights by treating
all detainees humanely and release them immediately.
“I am sure those arrested are now
being tortured by the junta”, said Tate Naing, the Secretary
of AAPP who spent over four years in prison. “We know from
firsthand experience that those arrested in Burma are always brutally
tortured – both physically and psychologically – immediately
upon arrest,” he added.
Since the first peaceful demonstration
on August 19th, over 100 people have been arrested and detained.
Around midnight on August 21st, fourteen leaders of the 88 Generation
Students, including Min Ko Naing, were arrested. Min Ko Naing
is Burma’s second most influential opposition leader after
Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace
Prize recipient. He has won several international human rights,
and he and several contemporary activists had already spent more
than a decade in prison for their leading role in organizing the
1988 popular uprising that brought down the then Burma’s
strongman General Ne Win and his “Socialist” party
On August 22nd, State-run newspapers accused
them of “agitating” to undermine Burma’s stability
and security. The regime claimed the human rights leaders were
attempting to organize “terrorist acts” in order to
disrupt its “National Convention”, a constitution-drafting
process that is widely expected to enshrine military rule in Burma.
The newspapers also reported that those arrested were being “interrogated”
– a euphemism for torture in Burma -- and would be dealt
with under order No.5/96. The draconian order by the regime provides
for imprisonment up to twenty years for anyone who criticises
the on going National Convention openly.
The authorities have also been conducting
feared midnight searches of the homes of prominent activists,
confiscating “illegal items” such as computers and
mobile phones. The arrests and searches have been carried out
by the police, members of “the Union Solidarity and Development
Association” (USDA) and another paramilitary group called
“Pyithu Swan Arr Shin” – PSAS (People's Power
The Union Solidarity and Development Association
(USDA) is a government-run organization that was founded in September
1993 by top military leaders of the military regime. It has become
a civilian wing of the junta and it is frequently used by the
authorities to enforce obedience by the general population through
violence and intimidation. It is the same organization that attempted
to assassinate Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi on
May 30, 2003, an attack which resulted in 100 of her supporters
being beaten to death by USDA members.
The PSAS is a branch of USDA and composed
of civilian henchmen, including many with criminal records. They
are paid about 3,000 Kyats (approximately US $2.3) per day to
attack and rob demonstrators. According to reliable sources, the
SPDC has started to recruit Muslim civilians to participate in
these organizations (USDA and PSAS) in an attempt to stir up religious
tensions with the predominantly Buddhist population in Burma,
in order to move public’s attention from serious political
“Members of USDA and PSAS are equipped
with iron batons covered with plastic. These weapons are deliberately
used to cause severe internal damage but avoid any external bleeding
(and media attention),” said Tate Naing.
During the demonstrations -- which took
place on 19, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 August, the USDA and PSAS members
brutally attacked demonstrators and media personnel both verbally
and physically, stole valuables and many other items. The regime
appears to be utilizing the USDA and PSAS to defend its policies,
attack the protestors and contain the demonstrations. If this
tactic to quell the demonstrations fails, the SPDC will use riot
police and then the army, which have been moved into key positions
and are on stand-by away throughout major cities.
The responses by the SPDC to the legitimate
and peaceful demonstrations prove once again that there is a total
lack of respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights in Burma.
Individuals’ rights to freedoms of opinion, expression,
association and assembly are systematically denied, despite the
fact that as a member of the United Nations, the government of
Burma is obliged to respect the fundamental rights of all persons
enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In light of the recent events, we, AAPP,
strongly urge the SPDC to:
• Release all detainees unconditionally and immediately
and ensure that no-one will be subjected to torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. We remind
the SPDC that under international law, governments cannot commit
torture under any circumstances even “during a time of public
emergency which threatens the life of the nation.”
AAPP also appeals to the members of the
United Nations Security Council, especially governments of United
States, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Indonesia to:
• Discuss the situation in Burma immediately at the UNSC
and ask for the UN Secretariat to brief the Council on the situation
in Burma and formulate an appropriate and collective action to
stop regime-sponsored violence in Burma once and for all.
For more information, please contact: Tate
Naing, Secretary, at (66) 8 1287 8751 and Bo Kyi, Joint Secretary
at (66) 8 1324 8935
of Persons Who Have Been Detained by the Burmese Military Junta
in Connection with the Recent Peaceful Demonstrations from August