A United Nations working group warns that the detention of an ethnic Kachin activist is illegal.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an official ruling that the 21-year prison sentence of the ethnic Kachin activist, Brang Yung, is illegal and demanded his immediate release from Myitkina prison where he is incarcerated.
Brang Yung was charged under Article 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act, a law originally written in 1908, during British colonial rule.
Burma Campaign UK accused the Burma Army of torturing Brang Yung into a false confession that he was with the Kachin Independence Army, including beating him, piercing him with needles and forcing him to have sex with a fellow prisoner.
The UN ruling noted that Brang Yung’s arrest was “arbitrary” and in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The UN ruling stated that Brang Yung was targeted because of his ethnicity.
“[Brang Yung] was targeted for prosecution as he belongs to the minority Kachin ethnic group. Members of this group have been subjected to numerous arrests as well as alleged torture against them to extract confessions.”
Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, from the Burma Campaign UK, said that President, U Thein Sein, was breaking international law.
“By keeping Brang Yung in jail it is President Thein Sein who is the one breaking the law, not Brang Yung. The failure to release political prisoners, even when the UN rules their detention is illegal, is yet another example of the backsliding of the reform process,” he said.
The UN group has previously ruled that another Kachin man, named Laphai Gam, has also been jailed illegally.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPP) stated in its latest chronology report, “As of June’s end, there are sixty-five political prisoners incarcerated in Burma, with 102 activists currently awaiting trial for political actions.”
AAPP warned that the Burma government’s stance towards its political opponents was hardening once again, stating that the country was going backwards on the issue of arresting political activists.
“Notwithstanding the president’s commitment to the release of all political prisoners by the end of 2013, the number of political incarcerations has been steadily increasing since the beginning of 2014, with a net average of six new political prisoners sentenced each month. In light of the 102 prisoners currently awaiting trial, if the current trend continues then Burma is set to see over 100 political prisoners by years end.”