The Observatory has been informed about the sentencing of Mr Man Zar Myay Mon, an environmental and land rights defender, member of the Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA)1 and of the Subnational Coordination Unit (SCU) of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)2 in Sagaing Region. He was a leading figure of peaceful anti-coup protests in Chaung-U Township, Sagaing Region, following the military coup on February 1, 2021.
On October 18, 2023, the Monywa Prison Court sentenced Man Zar Myay Mon to 11 years in prison, on three counts under Articles 50(a), 51(c), and 52(a) of the Counter-Terrorism Law, including “possession or distribution of explosives”. This sentence followed a previous 10-year prison sentence imposed on him for “incitement” under Article 505(a) of the Penal Code in 2021, bringing his total sentence to 21 years in prison.
At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Man Zar Myay Mon remained imprisoned in Monywa Prison, Sagaing Region, where he has been arbitrarily detained since his arrest in June 2021.
The Observatory recalls that Man Zar Myay Mon was charged in March 2021 with “incitement” under Article 505(a) of the Penal Code for his participation in the demonstrations, and an arrest warrant was issued against him, which forced him to go into hiding for two months with his wife in Shan Htoo Village, Chaung-U Township, Sagaing Region. On June 8, 2021, Man Zar Myay Mon was violently arrested by Tatmadaw soldiers while he was attempting to flee Shan Htoo Village, following a raid by security forces. Man Zar Myay Mon was held at the headquarters of the Tatmadaw’s Northwestern Command in Monywa, Sagaing Region, where he had his fingers broken during interrogation. After five days of interrogation, he was transferred to be detained in Monywa Prison.
The Observatory recalls that Man Zar Myay Mon worked for many years to promote accountability of the extractive industries for the benefit of local communities. He led a regional mining investigation and helped inform the development of mining legislation in Sagaing Region. Throughout this process, he helped uncover many instances of corruption among government officials. He was also active as one of the community leaders in the Letpadaung mine protests in Sagaing Region.3
Since his arrest, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar expressed deep concern about Man Zar Myay Mon’s arrest and detention.
The Observatory condemns the convictions and prison sentences of Man Zar Myay Mon, which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities, and urges the military junta to overturn his conviction, immediately release him, and put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against him and all other human rights defenders in the country.
The Observatory further expresses its utmost concern regarding the torture to which Man Zar Myay Mon has been subjected during his detention and alerts on the high risk of further acts of ill-treatment and torture he is facing while in military custody. The Observatory urges the military junta to guarantee his physical integrity and psychological well-being in all circumstances.
How You Can Help
Please write to the members of the military junta asking them to:
- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Man Zar Myay Mon, as well as of all human rights defenders in Myanmar, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance or fear of reprisals;
- Immediately and unconditionally release Man Zar Myay Mon, as his detention is arbitrary;
- Drop all charges against Man Zar Myay Mon and put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders in Myanmar;
- Carry out an immediate, thorough, transparent, and independent investigation into the above-mentioned acts of torture against Man Zar Myay Mon, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.
Please write to international and regional organisations, asking them to:
- Urge the members of the military junta to immediately and unconditionally release Man Zar Myay Mon, as well as to guarantee his physical integrity and psychological well-being;
- Issue public statements condemning the arbitrary detention of Man Zar Myay Mon, the acts of torture to which he has been subjected during his detention and, more generally, the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and civil society activists in Myanmar;
- Urge the members of the military junta to halt the ongoing crackdown against civil society, to observe an immediate ceasefire, and to work towards a non-violent transitional process in order to restore respect for human rights and democratic principles in Myanmar.
- Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Twitter: @antonioguterres
- Mr. Volker Türk, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @volker_turk
- Mr. Kao Kim Hourn, Secretary-General of the Association of South East Asian Nations, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @ASEAN
- Mr. Josep Borrell, European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @JosepBorrellF
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Myanmar in your respective country.