Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

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Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (Burma) (Burmese: နိုင်ငံရေးကျဉ်းသားများကူညီစောင့်ရှောက်ရေးအသင်း; abbreviated AAPP or AAPPB) is an independent non-profit organisation founded by Burmese former political prisoners living in exile. Mainly staffed by ex-political prisoners, its main aims are to provide assistance for other Burmese political prisoners (those in prison and those who have been released), and to document news related to them.

Its stated aims are “collecting information about political prisoners and prison conditions” and “giving assistance to political prisoners and their families, for example by providing food and medicines, or financial help to enable families to visit their loved ones in prison”.

History[edit]

AAPP was founded in the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot by on 23 March 2000, the anniversary of the arrest of 1988 student leader Min Ko Naing.

Political prisoners in Burma[edit]

Freedom of expression is heavily curtailed with the arbitrary use of laws such as the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act and high treason.

There were 2,203 political prisoners in jails across Burma, including monks, students, elected members of parliament and lawyers during SPDC regime. Many had been convicted for expressing views different from the government or for taking part in protests peacefully. As of April 2013, there are currently 176 political prisoners.[1] [2]

Treatment of political prisoners in prison

Democracy activists have reported undergoing torture, including electric shocks, rape, iron rods rubbed on their shins until the flesh rubs off, severe beatings and solitary confinement.

In 2007, AAPP reported how prison hospitals become distribution centres for HIV/AIDS as prison patients were made to share needles and syringes for injections.

Treatment of political prisoners after release

Even after political prisoners are released, they continue to face ill treatment. The military intimidates and harasses ex-political prisoners in order to prevent them from participating political activities.

Such activities are intensified closer to or on politically sensitive occasions, such as the anniversary of the 8888 Popular Uprising, where former political prisoners are arrested, interrogated and detained without reason.

The military regime also attempts to isolate ex-political prisoners from society, for example by denying them economic and educational opportunities.

Other organisations that have been campaigning for political prisoners include Burma Campaign UK, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International UK.[3]

Work[edit]

Research

The researchers aim to track the latest updates of political prisoners, through their contacts in Burma and through desk research. The United Nations and other organisations rely on it for supplementary information.

Direct assistance for political prisoners

AAPP has been providing help to political prisoners, including emergency assistance for those with serious health problems. It has also given financial help to pay for the education of political prisoners’ children, and has helped to meet the costs of medical care for former political prisoners.

Campaigns

In 2009, AAPP collaborated with Forum for Democracy in Burma in a campaign Free Burma’s Political Prisoners Now. The campaign, which started 13 March 2009, called for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to prioritise securing the release of all Burma's political prisoners.

On 15 June 2009, 677,254 signatures were personally delivered to Ban Ki-moon's office by a delegation of former political prisoners, human rights activists and family members of political prisoners. This was termed “the largest coordinated global action for Burma to date”.

Publications[edit]

AAPP releases reports regularly, such as The role of political prisoners in the national reconciliation process[4] and Silent Killing Fields: Burma's prisons and labour camps.[5]

Its latest report Torture, Political prisoners and the Un-rule of law: Challenges to peace, security and human rights in Burma[6] details the torture methods used in prison.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Myanmar: Final push on political prisoners needed". 27 September 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Burma Frees 56 Political Prisoners". Voice of America. 22 April 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Amnesty International - working to protect human rights worldwide". Amnesty.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  4. ^ "The role of political prisoners in the national reconciliation process". Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  5. ^ "Silent Killing Fields: Burma's prisons and labour camps". Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  6. ^ "Torture, Political prisoners and the Un-rule of law: Challenges to peace, security and human rights in Burma publisher=Assistance Association for Political Prisoners". Retrieved 2010-11-05. 

External links[edit]