BURMA: “Detained” must be treated as disappeared until located, identified

As of yesterday, at least 700 monks and 500 other citizens have been taken away by security forces in every part of the country. They include prominent persons, such as comedian Par Par Lay in Mandalay, and staunch human rights defenders such as lawyer U Aye Myint in Pegu. They also include many members of the National League for Democracy, such as U Aye Ko and Daw Khin Whaing, who were arrested by police and council officials in Pegu at 9:30pm on September 27 and reportedly sent to the prison in Pyi.?

But the vast majority consists of ordinary persons who had joined the protests out of sheer frustration at the unbearable conditions in their country. Many have left their houses in the morning have simply not come home at night. For instance, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), ten persons from the south side of New Dagon in greater Rangoon did not return home on September 28: Ko Htun Myaing (male, ward 26); Ma Khin Win Kyi (female, ward 17); Ko Tin Htoo (male, ward 17); Ma Yuyu Htay (female, ward 17); U Tin Ohn (male, ward 55); Ma Cho (female, ward 70); Hmat Kyi (male, ward 70); Ma Aye Mya Mya Htun (a.k.a. Ma Aye Mun, female, ward 20); Ma May Thezin (female, ward 20); Ma Hla Kyi Htay (female, ward 20). Their families don’t know if they are alive or dead, or where they may be. They have simply disappeared.

None of these persons have been taken into custody through the use of arrest warrants or any other legal procedures, nor have they been produced in any courts. The relatives have not been informed of their whereabouts. Personnel from the International Committee of the Red Cross are reportedly attempting to get accurate information on casualties and other incidents yesterday around Rangoon; however, as they are denied access to detention centres there is no independent agency able to verify numbers, names and locations of detained persons, let alone establish how many may have been tortured or killed, or be at risk of torture or killing.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is not aware of any formal proclamation of martial law or emergency regulations in Burma that would allow the government to depart from the ordinary standards of law and procedure that exist in Burma. And under any circumstances, until the authorities who have taken these persons into custody can reveal the whereabouts and current conditions of each and every one of them, and prove it by giving their families, lawyers and members of the ICRC access, they must be treated as forcibly disappeared persons under the standards of international law.

The Asian Human Rights Commission calls for the international community–and in particular the UN Human Rights Council through its special session on Burma this coming week–to demand that the government of Burma immediately:

1. Reveal in full the whereabouts and other details of all detained persons and all those who have died;

2. Show evidence of under what laws and legal procedures all persons have been arrested and are being held;

3. Bring all detained persons before courts of law within 24 hours as required by section 61 of the Criminal Procedure Code;

4. Give access to family members, lawyers and the ICRC;

5. Conduct judicial inquests into the deaths of all persons fired upon or assaulted by security forces;

6. Permit access to the country by key United Nations experts, including the Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar, extrajudicial killings and torture, and members of the Working Groups on arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances; and,?

7. Agree to the establishing of a UN observer mission to be dispatched to the country within the shortest possible time, under the auspices of the Secretary General, to prevent further incidents of killing, torture, arbitrary detention and forced disappearance.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-237-2007
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Campaigns : Burma Peoples Protests