By NJ Thakuria
Continuing its call to release all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar (also known as Burma), Amnesty International demands an immediate and unconditional release of 15 factory workers and student union members, who were detained by the Myanmar authority after clamping criminal charges for organizing a peaceful protest demonstration.
“On 18 May, the Tatkton township police arrested more than 70 wood-factory workers and All Burma Federation of Students Union members. The protesters raised voices against the dismissal of many workers from the Myanmar Veneer Plywood private limited factory and began their peaceful march in Sagaing region. They were on their way to Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw with an aim to bring their concerns to the union government,” said a statement issued by the international rights body.
Next day, 20 protesters were released and 35 more detainees were pardoned on 1 June. However, the rest continued to be under detention with the charges of unlawful assembly act (section 143, 145, 147 etc). Under these laws, Thein Oo (male), Win Min (m), Khaing Min (m), Saw Kai Htoo (m), Yan Naing Htwe (m), Kyaw Kyaw Myo (m), Naing Naing Aung (m), Hnin Aung (m), Kaung Zaw Hein (m), Than Htike (m), Ye Yint Paing Hmu (m), Victor (m), Khin San Wai (female),Sein Lae Khaing (f) and Yu Thandar Aung face up to six years of imprisonment at Yamethin jail of Mandalay in central Burma.
Earlier in February and April, more than 160 wood-factory workers belonged to Veneer Plywood private limited factory were dismissed. The workers believe that it was because of their demand for better working conditions, including the overtime pay, they were targeted.
It may be mentioned that the National League for Democracy led government in Naypyitaw on 7 April announced that it would work to release all political prisoners as early as possible. Since then, scores of prisoners of conscience were released, but arrests on politically motivated grounds also continued till date.