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Release of political prisoners in Myanmar hailed by UN expert

GENEVA (12 April 2016) – The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, welcomes the recent release of political prisoners as a truly significant moment for Myanmar. She also welcomes the commitment by State Councilor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to release additional political prisoners as a fundamental step towards further democratic transition and national reconciliation.

“It was particularly touching to see the joyful scenes across the country as individuals, who should never have been imprisoned for exercising their basic rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, were freed and able to reunite with their families. As one political prisoner told me in Insein Prison last year, these men and women want to help bring more positive changes to Myanmar. Now they can take their rightful part in the country’s continuing transformation. This is a truly significant moment for Myanmar.

I hope to see quick and real progress on the recommendation of the Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission to amend over 140 laws. Changes to these laws are vital to ensure that there are no new political prisoners in the future. I look forward to the day when nobody will face charges for exercising their basic rights in Myanmar.

This year’s Thingyan Festival brings many things to celebrate in Myanmar. I will continue to work closely with the Government and all concerned to improve the human rights situation. I am hopeful that future Thingyan Festivals will be filled with similar celebration for all people in a free and democratic Myanmar.”

ENDS

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s last report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/31/71):
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/MM/Pages/SRMyanmar.aspx

Ms. Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014. She is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Lee served as member and chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003-2011). She is currently a professor at Sungkyunwan University, Seoul, and serves on the Advisory Committee of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Ms. Lee is the founding President of International Child Rights Center, and serves as Vice-chair of the National Unification Advisory Council. Learn more, go to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/CountriesMandates/MM/Pages/SRMyanmar.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Myanmar: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/MMIndex.aspx

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Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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