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Nilar Thein was arrested on her way to visit the mother of Ant Bwe Kyaw, another detained activist, in a suburb of north eastern Yangon. Ant Bwe Kyaw and Kyaw Min Yu, Nilar Thein’s husband (also known as Ko Jimmy), were among 13 anti-government activist leaders from the “88 Generation Students Group” who were arrested on 22 August 2007.
A total of 35 activists from the “88 Generation Students Group” appeared before a court inside Yangon’s Insein prison on 9 September to face a range of politically-motivated charges. Several of the charges they are facing are made under vaguely-worded security laws routinely used to criminalise peaceful political dissent.
The “88 Generation Students Group” is made up of anti-government activists who took part in the 1988 pro-democracy uprising against the then 26 years of military rule.
The day after the 13 anti-government activist leaders of the group were arrested on 22 August 2007, Nilar Thein led around 500 people in a demonstration in Yangon. The demonstration demanded the release of fellow activists and continued the protest against the sudden increase in fuel prices that had been imposed by the state on 15 August 2007.
When authorities began a hunt for the leaders of the protests, Nilar Thein went into hiding. After considering the unhealthy and dangerous conditions of living in hiding, she decided to leave her baby daughter behind in the care of her family.
Rumours began to circulate three weeks after her husband’s arrest on 22 August 2007 that he had died in police custody. The rumours turned out to be false and are believed to have been planted by the government to bring Nilar Thein out of hiding.
Whilst in hiding, Nilar Thein continued to appeal to the international community to take action in resolving the grave human rights situation and the abuses that women suffer under the military regime in Myanmar.
A year after the violent crackdown on anti-government protests of September 2007, the military leaders in Myanmar are showing no signs that they will relent in their efforts to silence all political dissent. Nearly 300 individuals have been arrested for their peaceful political activities so far in 2008.
Nilar Thein has been imprisoned twice before for her pro-democracy activities. She was detained for two months in 1991. She was arrested in December 1996 for participating in the student demonstrations in Yangon that of that year. She was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and was released in 2005.
Amnesty International is urgently calling on the government of Myanmar to stop making further arrests and to release all those detained or imprisoned merely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, including both long-term and recent prisoners of conscience.
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Kashmir, the disputed region partitioned by India and Pakistan. Dozens of unarmed Kashmiri protesters have been killed and hundreds injured by Indian security forces in the last few weeks.
The vicious crackdown is part of its attempt to stamp out mass demonstrations that have shaken the valley. These demonstrations may have been sparked by the Amarnath land transfer controversy, but have snowballed into a province-wide uprising against the ongoing Indian military occupation.
Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are taking to the streets, day after day, demanding “azadi” (freedom) and their right to self-determination. In response, the Indian government has imposed a round-the-clock curfew in all of Kashmir, creating the conditions for a humanitarian disaster.
IN VIEW of the deteriorating humanitarian situation and the media blackout of the events in Kashmir, we call upon the international humanitarian agencies, particularly the UN bodies and world press, to intervene immediately to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Kashmir.
Owing to the strict curfew, hundreds of the injured lying in various hospitals of Kashmir, are not able to get critical medicines and the attendants are without food.
Due to the aggressive enforcement of the curfew, the sick and injured (by the Indian armed forces) are not able to reach hospitals, resulting in deaths. Attendants of dozens of dead in various hospitals in Kashmir are awaiting their transportation to their homes for the final rites. Two pregnant women died since yesterday when the ambulances carrying them were prevented by the Indian armed forces to reach maternity hospitals. Beating up the drivers of the ambulances and their inability to reach hospitals has compounded the situation. Medical personnel of various hospitals in Kashmir are not able to attend their duties, as identity cards and curfew passes are not being honored by the hostile troops deployed on the streets.
There is a serious dearth of medicines, baby milk, foodstuffs, milk and other essential commodities in the market due to the curfew and the blockade of the only road link to Kashmir. In view of the four days of stringent restrictions on people’s movement and heavy clampdown by the state forces across the 10 districts of Kashmir, including Srinagar city, we appeal to the international community to ask the government of India to immediately ease curfew restrictions so that people are able to access basic essentials. Children going without milk and the sick without medicines are matters of serious concern.
We condemn the use of heavy force to thwart peaceful protests, resulting in killings of 50 civilians in Kashmir. We also condemn the violent attack allegedly by militants in Jammu on Wednesday, which has resulted in the death of three innocent civilians.
The flow of information has completely stopped for the first time in the history of Kashmir, and no newspaper has been able to publish in last three days, because of these indiscriminate restrictions imposed by the government. The communications blockade has been compounded by the banning of news and current affairs programs on local cable TV channels, and a ban on SMS services. This communications blockade is resulting in loss of news about the unfolding events, a blackout of significant happenings in Kashmir’s countryside–where currently, the media has no access, and which is tightly controlled by the army. We call upon the international community to call upon the government of India to lift the communications blockade without any delay.
Signed by: Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Chamber of Commerce and Industries Kashmir, Kashmir Hotel and Resturant Owners Federation, Valley Citizen’s Council (Zareef Ahmed Zareef), Naagar Nagar Coordination Committee, Ahad Zargar Research Foundation, Himayat Trust, JK People’s Development Trust, Kashmir Thinker’s Guild, Dr. Altaf Hussain, Dr. Shaikh Showkat Hussain (Faculty of Law, University of Kashmir), Prof. N.A. Baba (Faculty of Political Science, University of Kashmir), Arjimand Hussain Talib (Columnist), Z.G. Mohammad (Columnist), Dr. Mubarik Ahmed (Social Activist), Noorul Hassan (Ex-Chief Conservator), Jamiat Hamdania, Firdous Education Trust for Orphans, Doda Peace Forum, Poonch Initiave for Peace and Justice, Ehsaas (A Developmental Organization)