Originally published on September 15, 2014, at ForceChange.com
Target: Thein Sein, President of Myanmar
Goal: Free a human rights activist from serving ten years with hard labor
While promoting development and democracy in Myanmar, a human rights worker has been imprisoned for disturbing public order. He faces at least ten years of hard labor for staging a series of peaceful protests concerning land rights in Rangoon. The government of Myanmar must release this activist and stop imprisoning people who are engaging in free speech.
Human rights worker Ko Htin Kyaw was arrested for leading several anti-government protests related to land rights in Rangoon. As director of the Movement for Democracy Current Force, he has been arrested multiple times for his role in the activist community. In 2007, he was sentenced to twelve years in prison for urging the government to reconsider a sharp increase in fuel prices. The government granted him amnesty in 2011 after serving four years in prison.
In 2013, Ko Htin Kyaw was arrested a couple of times for organizing land rights demonstrations and sentenced to six months in jail. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found his arrest last December was arbitrary. He is currently in prison awaiting three more trials that could add even more years to his sentence. He has been granted presidential amnesty twice by the current president and must be released immediately with all charges dropped against him.
By signing the petition below you will urge the President of Myanmar, Thein Sein, to grant presidential amnesty to Ko Htin Kyaw and protect activists from arbitrary arrests.
Dear President Thein Sein,
Human rights worker, Ko Htin Kyaw, has been arrested and sentenced to ten years of hard labor for participating in land rights demonstrations. He does not deserve such a harsh punishment for engaging in peaceful protests. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has already declared one of his arrests arbitrary. His only crime is speaking his opinion along with his community.
You have granted presidential amnesty to Ko Htin Kyaw twice, and he needs your help once again. He has not committed a violent crime nor caused harm to another person, yet he has received a harsher sentence for practicing free speech. The punishment does not fit the crime. He deserves to be released immediately with all pending charges against him dropped. Grant him presidential amnesty and protect all human rights activists from further arbitrary arrests.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Peerapat Wimolrungkarat via Flickr