Activist sentenced to 7 years 6 months for ‘cutting down trees’

A labor activist was jailed for seven years and six months, after being falsely accused of illegally cutting down trees, Burma Campaign UK, a human rights group that focuses on Burma, said.

Myint Soe was arrested in March and sentenced to prison after being accused of cutting down eucalyptus trees on land owned by a paper company named Shwe Than Lwin, that, Burma Campaign UK says, has strong links to the government.

“Although Myint Soe had witnesses who provided statements that he did not cut any trees, he was arrested.”

Burma Campaign said, “He was charged under The Public Property Protection Act (1947) with the accusation of cutting the trees down, and was sentenced to 7 and half years in Thaton prison, Mon State.”

Myint Soe, and his colleagues had been helping farmers in southern Burma to build temporary houses in land that had been confiscated by the government several years ago.

“Framing a labour activist for cutting down trees shows the ridiculous lengths the Burmese government is prepared to go to silence activists,” said Wai Hnin, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK.

“This case shows why a permanent review mechanism is needed to investigate cases of political activists who are wrongfully jailed.”

Though Burma has made some reforms in recent times, almost all the repressive laws, which enabled the jailing of political prisoners, still remain in place.

“The unconditional release of all political prisoners is an essential step towards genuine democracy and freedom in Burma.” Burma Campaign UK said.

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