It was such great news to see the recent releases of political prisoners in Burma. But while those released activists were excited to be with their families again, these interfaith activists were sentenced to prison on the very same day.
Zaw Zaw Latt, Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Win Bo are Muslim and Hindu campaigners and members of Thint Myat Lo Thu Myar (Peace Seekers and Multiculturalist Movement), an interfaith foundation founded by a Buddhist monk.
The authorities arrested Zaw Zaw Latt in July 2015 after the Buddhist organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion, known as Ma Ba Tha, and other Buddhist nationalists started a public campaign on social media calling for Zaw Zaw Latt’s arrest for insulting their religion. They claimed that Zaw Zaw Latt has insulted Buddhism by encouraging interfaith “mating” and working with a “Buddhist monk who betray Buddhism.” The authorities subsequently arrested his two colleagues, Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Win Bo.
They were told that the reasons for their arrests were for visiting the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) as part of their interfaith trip, and for allegedly illegally crossing into India. They were charged under Article 17(1) of the repressive Unlawful Association Act and the 1947 Burma Immigration Act. Zaw Win Bo did not travel to Kachin State with them so he was only charged under the Immigration Act.
On 26th February 2016, Zaw Zaw Latt, Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Win Bo were sentenced to two years with hard labour under the Immigration Act. On 8th April 2016, Zaw Zaw Latt and Pwint Phyu Latt received two more years in prison under the Unlawful Association Act. They are currently serving their prison sentences in Obo prison in Mandalay.
Your action has helped release political prisoners recently but we need to make sure that no political prisoners are left behind. If we draw the attention of the NLD-led government to the remaining political prisoners, hopefully they will also be released.