Royce Press Office 202-225-5021
Engel Press Office 202-226-9103
Tristan Daedalus (Salmon) 202-870-4973
Ben Fishel (Sherman) 202-225-5911
James Burchfield (Chabot) 202-226-3200
Courtney Gidner (Crowley) 202-225-3965
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Rep. Ed Royce (CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Eliot L. Engel (NY), the Committee’s ranking member; Reps. Matt Salmon (AZ) and Brad Sherman (CA), the chair and ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; Rep. Steve Chabot (OH) former chair of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; and Rep. Joe Crowley (NY), Democratic Caucus Vice-Chairman; made the following statement condemning recent arrests in Burma and the threats to freedom of expression in that country:
“The string of highly questionable arrests cast serious doubt on the government’s commitment to even a modest expression of free speech—especially when that speech is directed toward the government. These are not the actions of a government committed to democracy, or of a country that respects and values human rights and dignity. And with elections a few weeks away, these developments are especially troubling.
“We’re mindful of reports that scores of others are being detained for their political activities despite the government’s earlier commitments to release all political prisoners. We urge the government of Burma to release these individuals, as well as all other political prisoners, immediately and unconditionally.”
Background note: Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, the spouse of International Women of Courage Award recipient May Sabe Phyu, was recently arrested after commenting on a Facebook post. Mr. Lee was charged with “defamation” under the 2013 telecommunications law. The post was allegedly by Zaw Myo Nyunt, who is also facing charges for criticizing government authorities.
Chaw Sandi Tun, a young activist, has also been arrested and detained under the electronic transactions law allegedly for comments on Facebook that authorities deemed critical of the new military uniforms.
Additionally, Myat Nu Khaing, an independent candidate contesting a seat in the Lower House, was recently arrested because over a year ago, she allegedly joined in a protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Rangoon.