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Arrest Warrants Issued Against Burmese Human Rights DefendersLetter by William Gomes Salem-News.com
Two of the activists are part of the Yangon People Service Network which campaigns for the respect of rule of law and democracy in Burma.
(YORK, UK) - Remarks over the controversial Letpadaung copper mine project in Burma led to the issuance of arrest warrants against three Human rights defenders; Messrs Moe Thway, Wai Lu and Wai Hmuu Thwin.
The mine is a joint venture between the Burmese military's Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and Wan Bao Company, a subsidiary of a Chinese arms manufacturer.
The Monywa Court charged the three activists with “offences against the state or against public tranquility.”
On 20 June 2013, the human rights defenders published a statement regarding the arrest warrants issued against them on 13 June 2013 by Monywa Court.
These arrest warrants are reportedly linked to comments the human rights defenders had made about the Letpadaung copper mine project, a joint venture between the Burmese military's Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL) and Wan Bao Company, a subsidiary of a Chinese arms manufacturer.
Moe Thway is a member of Generation Wave Youth Force, a network of human rights defenders that campaigns for civil and political rights, including by putting pressure on the Burmese government to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They have also been campaigning against the Letpadaung mine and have brought the campaign to national attention.
Wai Lu and Wai Hmuu Thwin are part of the Yangon People Service Network which campaigns for the respect of rule of law and democracy in Burma. The campaign against the Letpadaung project is also part of their work.
The Letpadaung copper mining project has been marred by protests; last November police used smoke bombs to disperse the crowd, injuring dozens of demonstrators, including monks, and triggering a national outcry.
Activists have been facing harassment since opposition to the project began. On 25 April 2013, villagers in the Letpadaung area tried to plough their fields but were prohibited by police from enteringunder section 144, or power to issue order absolute at once in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger, of the Criminal Procedure Code.
It is reported that the police opened fire on the crowd and two villagers were arrested along with one activist. Warrants were also issued for the arrests of eight other activists and villagers. On 8 May 2013, because villagers had become afraid of police raids, the three human rights defenders, along with Mr Aung Thu of the 1988 Student Generation, went to Monywa to calm tensions there. They informed police of their intentions in this regard.
While they were there, some local reporters interviewed Moe Thway, Wai Lu and Wai Hmuu Thwin. During the interview, observed by police from the Special Branch, the human rights defenders gave their opinions on the use of section 144 to keep the villagers from ploughing their fields, opinions which were perceived as damaging the police and government's credibility.
Therefore, on 13 June 2013, warrants were issued for the arrests of the three human rights defenders. On 15 June 2013, Moe Thway received a phone call from Lieutenant Khin Zaw Latt, who had ordered the issuance of the warrants. The Lieutenant summoned the three human rights defenders to appear at Monywa Police Station.
Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is concerned about the issuance of arrest warrants against Moe Thway, Wai Lu and Wai Hmuu Thwin, as this act appears to be in direct contravention of their right to freedom of expression as enshrined by international law. Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes further believes that the arrest warrants are directly related to their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of land rights in the Letpadaung area.
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Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.
He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.
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