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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 726

Lawmakers urge UN to enquire into excessive prison sentences in Myanmar/Burma

Kuala Lumpur, 13 November, (Asiantribune.com): Legislators from ASEAN States are calling on the office of the United Nations Secretary-General and other relevant bodies of the United Nations to immediately enquire into Myanmar’s authorities’ reported sentencing of human rights defenders to 65 years imprisonment.

Parliamentarians from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia, who make up the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC), are extremely concerned with reports that these jail-terms were reportedly handed down in a closed-door ‘Special Court’ hearing in Yangon’s Insein Prison on 11 November 2008.

"These are draconian sentences. Moreover, these extraordinarily lengthy sentences were reportedly handed down to these activists whom did not have legal representation at that time. This is against basic judicial principles and cannot still be occurring in a time when international conventions exists that protect human rights and justice for people," said AIPMC President Kraisak Choonhavan.

"The fact that the Myanmar military regime has ratified the ASEAN Charter is also enough grounds to call into question the legality of these sentences. Regional and international leaders must act," he added on behalf of his regional parliamentary colleagues from AIPMC.

AIPMC urges the United Nations to commission its various Special Rapportuers – such as the Special Rapportuer on the Independence of Judges and Freedom of Lawyers, Special Rapportuer on Human Rights Defenders, Special Rapportuer on Torture and Special Rapportuer on Freedom of Expression – to investigate and respond to these reports.

‘Mr. Ban Ki-moon has on numerous occasions expressed his concern with what happens in Myanmar. It is with great hope that we urge him, the UN Special Rapportuers and various bodies in the UN to investigate these happenings, and should these reports be accurate, the UN must intervene and hold accountable the military for its acts of tyranny towards its citizens,” added the AIPMC President.

Reports indicate that apart from the 14 pro-democracy and human rights defenders, whom were sentenced to the 65-year prison term, one blogger was sentenced to 20 years while many others were handed a varied amount of long jail terms.

- Asian Tribune -

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