04, Feb 2019
In a recently released report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Myanmar’s “first democratically elected civilian government in decades has prosecuted large numbers of peaceful critics in violation of basic human rights,” according to the announcement of the report, which explained that the report “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.” Acknowledging that a variety of subjects are discussed in the media and online, HRW noted, however, that those criticising the government, the military, and officials, as well as violations in Myanmar’s Rakhine and Kachin states, have frequently been arrested and prosecuted. Linda Lakhdhir, who serves as Asia legal advisor at HRW and authored the report stated, “Abuses against the press under Myanmar’s new government have been particularly striking,” adding, “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.” In 2018, two Reuters journalists, who had been investigating alleged killings of Rohingya villagers by Myanmar security forces, were convicted of having violated the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, and sentenced to seven years in prison. The report, titled ‘Dashed Hopes: The Criminalization of Peaceful Express in Myanmar’, is based on interviews conducted in the country and “analysis of legal and policy changes since 2016”. It may be read here.