Myanmar/Burma: Two musicians arrested, another released after torture

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Myanmar / Burma:
Two musicians arrested, another released after torture

Singer Nyi Paing and songwriter Min Satta have reportedly been arrested by Burmese authorities’ Special Branch. Another report says the singer Htoo Htoo Chay who was arrested in September has been released from prison after being tortured.

“We got confirmation that 41 people were arrested in October, but we don’t know all of them or where they have been taken. We don’t even know the reason they were arrested. We also have information that there are more people in hiding,“ the joint-secretary of the Thailand-based group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, Bo Kyi, was quoted as saying by the newspaper The Irrawaddy.

The detainees include Min Satta, a songwriter, Nyi Paing, a singer, and the poet Khant Min Htet, according to the AAPP. The families of the detained are trying to locate their loved ones.

Burmese artists are being handed lengthy prison sentences for their work, and the London-based human rights organisation Article 19 regards the censorship of artists in Burma to be “amongst the most common and violent in the world”.

According to Article 19, the October edition of the Burmese police’s Crime News Journal has sunk to new levels with the announcement that artists who spread “public hatred against the government” face the possibility of execution.

“The warning appears to signify a change in law regarding artistic critiques of the government, which was previously limited to long imprisonment and fines under Article 124(A) of the Penal code,” writes Article 19 in their newsletter ‘Artist Alert’.

Disappeared
Min Satta was arrested on 16 October whilst staying at Nyi Paing’s house who was arrested two days later. They have since been “disappeared”, and the authorities have refused to speak to their families.

In addition to imprisonment and harassment there are consistent reports of artists being tortured by government security agencies. In October the singer Htoo Htoo Chay was released from prison where, according to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, he had been tortured following his arrest in September.

Bo Kyi of AAPP told The Irrawaddy: that Burmese authorities “don’t treat people accordingly to the rule of law when they are arrested. They don’t inform the detainees’ families. They take them to some interrogation camp where they beat and torture them in order to get the confession they want.”

Amnesty in September
According to AAPP, 2,119 political prisoners are being held in prisons across the country, including 46 journalists and a number of artists. 138 political prisoners have died in Burmese prisons since 1988, and at least 115 are currently in poor health.

In September 2009, the Burmese regime granted amnesty to 7,114 prisoners. Human rights groups said 128 political prisoners were among those released.

About the ‘Artist Alert’ newsletter
The newsletter ‘Artist Alert’ was launched by Article 19 in 2008 in order to highlight that art, in any form, constitutes a key medium through which information and ideas are imparted and received. The newsletter reports of cases of artists around the world whose right to freedom of expression has been curtailed and abused. It seeks to promote and defend freedom to create.




Sources

Article 19 – October 2009:

‘Artist Alert newsletter’


The Irrawaddy – 29 October 2009:

‘Journalists, Volunteer Relief Workers Arrested in Rangoon’

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – 1 November 2009:

‘Political Prisoners list’

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