Myanmar prosecutes peaceful critics


For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.

Myanmar’s first democratically elected civilian government in decades has prosecuted large numbers of peaceful critics in violation of basic human rights. Concerned governments should press Myanmar to protect the rights to expression and assembly, and reform laws penalizing peaceful speech to bring them in line with international standards, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today:

The 87-page report, “Dashed Hopes: The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in Myanmar,” documents the use of broad and vaguely worded laws against activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy-led government. While discussion of a wide range of topics now flourishes in the media and online, those speaking critically of the government, military, or their officials, as well as abuses in Rakhine or Kachin States, are frequently subject to arrest and prosecution.

“Abuses against the press under Myanmar’s new government have been particularly striking,” said Linda Lakhdhir, Asia legal advisor at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy promised a new Myanmar, but the government still prosecutes peaceful speech and protests and has failed to revise old oppressive laws.”

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