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UNION OF MYANMAR:
HEALTH FEARS FOR DETAINED PEACE ACTIVIST

Update info:
5 Jan 2016 (Updated)
Latest info:
19 Oct 2015
Country:
UNION OF MYANMAR
Subject:
Patrick Kum Jaa Lee
Gender : m
Period:
29 Jan 2016
Distribution date:
5 Jan 2016
UA No:
227/2015

There are increasing fears for the health of detained Kachin peace activist Patrick Kum Jaa Lee, who suffers from a number of medical conditions and may not be receiving the treatment he needs. He was arrested in Myanmar in connection with a Facebook post mocking the army. He is a prisoner of conscience, who must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Since 27 October, Patrick Kum Jaa Lee has been in Insein prison’s hospital intensive care unit in Yangon – Myanmar’s largest city - because of his poor health condition. He had a mild stroke in June 2014, and is also suffering from high blood pressure, gastroenteritis and chronic asthma. On 23 November he had an asthma attack during his hearing at Hlaing Township court. His family, who is able to visit him in prison, has concerns that the prison hospital may not be providing him with adequate medical treatment.

Patrick Kum Jaa Lee was arrested at his home on 14 October without a warrant after he shared an image on Facebook showing an unidentified person stepping on a photograph of army Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, along with the warning “Don’t share this post – if you do you will be arrested”.

Following his arrest he has been charged under Section 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison for “extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, disturbing, causing undue influence or threatening to any person by using any Telecommunications Network”. 

He has since been repeatedly denied bail.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

While Internet penetration is still very low in Myanmar, Facebook is widely used by most Internet users, including human rights defenders, government officials and news agencies.

On 12 October, Chaw Sandi Tun, also known as Chit Tha Mee, was also arrested in Yangon for a post she made on Facebook mocking the Myanmar Army. She is currently detained in Maubin prison, in Ayeyarwady Region facing charges under Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law. She is a prisoner of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released. (See UA 228/15: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa16/2669/2015/en/). Amnesty International is also aware of at least two other people being detained under similar charges for posts they made on Facebook.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned by these cases which could pave the way to a broader crackdown on freedom of expression online.

The Myanmar authorities continue to arrest and imprison activists and human rights defenders simply for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression which are enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Amnesty International is concerned about a number of laws in Myanmar which restrict the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Further information on UA: 227/15 Index: ASA 16/3105/2015 Issue Date: 18 December 2015

Take action

Please write immediately in English, Burmese, or your own language:

  • Calling on the Myanmar authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Patrick Kum Jaa Lee;
  • Urging them to ensure that, pending his release, he is given access to an independent medical assessment and any treatment he needs;
  • Calling on them to repeal or amend all laws which impose arbitrary or sweeping restrictions on the human right to freedom of expression, in line with international human rights law and standards.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 29 JANUARY 2016 TO:
President
Thein Sein
President’s Office
Office No.18
Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 1 652 624
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Home Affairs
Lt Gen. Ko Ko
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 67 412 439
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:
Chairman, Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
U Win Mra
27 Pyay Road, Hline Township
Yangon
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 1 659 668
Email: chmyanmarnhrc@gmail.com

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the first update of UA 227/15. Further information: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa16/2668/2015/en/