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Human Rights Activist Kept in Prison

The human rights activist, Kyaw Hla Aung, is still in prison after being arrested over three months ago. Amnesty International claim he is innocent of any charges laid by authorities and Kyaw Hla Aung is a target because of his political activism and his links to the international community.

Amnesty International said, “He has been charged with multiple offences and is facing a lengthy prison sentence.”

“There are serious concerns regarding his lack of access to his lawyer.” The international rights group added.

Kyaw Hla Aung is on trial at the Sittwe District Court in Myanmar’s Rakhine state after he was arbitrarily arrested without charge on 15 July 2013.

In detention, he was charged under Burma’s penal code of rioting with a deadly weapon, hiring people to join an unlawful assembly and voluntarily causing grievous hurt to a public servant.

Additional charges were added to his case after his trial began on 14 August 2013, including, voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty, robbery by an armed gang, abetting an offence. He was also charged under article 505(b), which concerns statements conducing to public mischief. Amnesty International said that Burma’s penal code was being used to silence political opponents. “Article 505 (b), in particular, has been frequently used by the Myanmar authorities to stifle free expression and association in the country.” Amnesty International said.

“Amnesty International believes that Kyaw Hla Aung is being targeted as an influential human rights defender with connections to the international community, and that the charges against him have no basis.” The group added.

Karen News understands that Kyaw Hla Aung is not receiving access to a lawyer. Access to legal representation is a basic part of the right to a fair trial and a key human right enshrined in international law.

Kyaw Hla Aung’s legal team have reportedly petitioned the Supreme Court to move the trial to Yangon. The trial is due to continue in Sittwe on Friday 8 November 2013. Kyaw Hla Aung is currently detained at the Sittwe Prison. He was transferred from Sittwe Police Station No. 1 on 9 August.

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