Burma junta urged to free 12 jailed MPs

The world association of parliaments on Wednesday called on Burma to immediately release 12 lawmakers from jail ahead of elections next month.

In a resolution, the human rights committee of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) urged Burma’s military junta to “immediately and unconditionally end their incarceration.”

“Twelve parliamentarians are continuing to languish in prison simply for having exercised their rights to express themselves,” it said.

The committee raised “serious doubts” about the junta’s desire to ensure that the historic elections were a “sincere” reflection of the will of Burma’s people.

Mexican senator Rosario Green, the head of the committee, underlined that the 12 were among 2,100 political prisoners on the country.

“They have all been sentenced on the basis of legal proceedings which blatantly disregarded their right to a fair trial,” she said.

Green said that in the past the IPU’s watchdog had examined “many” other cases of parliamentarians in Burma “who at one time or another ended up in prison for speaking their minds.”

“None of them can stand in the elections, because all those who have been the subject of a conviction are automatically disqualified,” she added.

On Tuesday, European and Asian leaders at an EU-Asia summit in Brussels joined forces to urge Burma’s junta to release political prisoners and ensure that the November 7 elections were free and fair.

Critics have dismissed the elections as a sham due to the exclusion of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

Up until now, there are 12 Members of Parliament in the junta’s notorious prisons. They are namely – (1) Dr.Kyaw Kyaw (NLD, arrested            18- 09-2002); (2) Khun Tun Oo (SNLD, arrested 09-02- 2005); (3) Kyaw Khin (NLD, arrested 25-02-2005); (4) Kyaw Min (NDPHR, arrested 17-03-2005); (5) Kyaw San (NLD, arrested 17-03-2005); (6) Khin Maung Win (NLD, arrested 31-03-2006); (7) Than Lwin (     NLD, arrested 29-09-2007); (8) Win Myint Aung (NLD, arrested 28-04-2008); (9) Nyi Pu (NLD, arrested 12-08-2008); (10) Dr.Tin Min Htut (NLD, arrested 12-08-2008); (11) Kyaw Khaing (NLD, arrested 13-07-2009) and (12) Saw Hlaing (NLD, arrested 30-03-2005).

The junta announced last week that Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, would be released after the country’s first elections in two decades.

The IPU is an association of 155 parliaments from around the world.

Green said her human rights committee had examined the cases of 305 parliamentarians from 35 countries, notably including disappearances in Eritrea and Rwanda.

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