The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) slammed the Burma government in a new report for having “marginalized” ethnic Kachin and Rohingya political prisoners.
“The government’s political prisoners committee has failed to publicly recognize or advocate on behalf of these most vulnerable political prisoners,” said the report
FIDH also crititized the government for obstructing access in verifying exact numbers of ethnic political prisoners. Many ethnic Kachin and Rohingyas have being detained under the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act making it illegal for communication with groups deemed unlawful by the government.
An estimated 1,000 Rohingyas have being detained in Rakhine state following ethnic violence in June of last year.
“The hundreds of detained Rohingya who have been charged and convicted have faced great discrimination, and have been denied due process rights, legal representation, definite sentences, and trial opportunities,” said the report, adding that many of them are likely innocent.
About 200 Rohingya are being held in custody without charges, and hundreds more are charged with offences such as “unauthorized” marriages and travel violations.
Sentences that commonly span from five to ten years are issued in a kangaroo court where defendants are denied legal representation, said a man from Buthidaung who didn’t want his name used for security concerns.
Rohingya prisoners suffer from severe torture by hired goons brought in for this purpose. Without medical attention many have succumbed to their injuries, the source told the Kaladan Press Network.
Forty-four political prisoners were released on Dec. 10; mostly sentenced under Article 18, which outlaws unauthorized protests, according to the Political Prisoner Scrutiny Committee.
President Thein Sein has released more than 1,000 political prisoners since being elected in 2011. His leadership marked the end of a military regime that lasted five decades. Still many new prisoners of conscience are being incarcerated without charges or convictions despite a presidential announcement in July that all political prisoners will be released by the end of the year.