Burma asked to end ban on political prisoners joining parties

By staff writers
March 11, 2010

Human rights campaigners are urging Burma to overturn a new law before the forthcoming national elections, which bars all political prisoners, including the detained Nobel Peace-prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, from belonging to a political party.

“There are at least 2,200 political prisoners in Myanmar, most of whom are in prison simply because they tried to exercise their rights peacefully,” said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Myanmar researcher.

(Myanmar is the name the country's military dictators use and is officially recognised by the UN, though it is rejected by most of those working for democracy and freedom until the people of the nation themselves can have a say in choosing it.)

“Instead of passing laws that strip away more of their rights, the Myanmar authorities should immediately release all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and remove restrictions on their political activity,” declared Zawacki.

Aung San Suu Kyi was already blocked from running in the elections by the 2008 constitution, which ruled that marriage to a foreign national would exclude candidates from running.

“Amnesty International is greatly concerned that activists are going to come under increased repression in the lead up to the elections,” said the NGO's spokesperson. “The Myanmar authorities seem determined to stamp out any political challenge to their rule.”

In a recent report, 'Repression of ethnic minority activists in Myanmar', Amnesty documented the government’s systematic efforts to silence activists from the country’s large ethnic minority population. The report warned the election may lead to an even harder crackdown against activists.

The report can be found on the Amnesty International website at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/myanmar-urged-end-repr....


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