U Kyaw Hla Aung, 73, an activist/lawyer and former administrator for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Sittwe. He is one of more than 100,000 Muslim Rohingya IDPs displaced following two bouts of sectarian violence in western Rakhine State in 2012 © Contributor/IRIN
July 19, 2013
Human rights activists have called into doubt the Myanmar president’s promise to free political prisoners following the detention of a prominent rights lawyer.
President Thein Sein made the pledge during a visit to London this week.
It is part of a series of democratic reforms initiated by his civilian government since taking power in 2011.
However, Amnesty International says a prominent Rohingya lawyer, U Kyaw Hla Aung, was detained in Myanmar’s Rakhine state on the same day as the presidents announcement.
The rights group has accused Myanmar police of targeting the 74-year-old because of his work as a Rohingya human rights advocate.
Shibab Ahamed, the country director of ActionAid Myanmar, says while Thein Sein looks to be implementing his reforms, there are still areas of concern.
“So I think that it looks like political prisoner in Myanmar and Muslims are treating probably differently,” he said.
The commitment from Thein Sein is to free all political prisoners by the end of the year.