UN: Free Sai Zaw Thaike and other prisoners in Myanmar

UN: Free Sai Zaw Thaike and other prisoners in Myanmar - Digital

Photo by Myanmar Pressphoto Agency.


ARTICLE 19 made this statement during the interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s report on the human rights situation in Myanmar at the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

ARTICLE 19 welcomes the report of the High Commissioner. It is essential that the UN continues to monitor the unfolding human rights crisis and help ensure accountability.

We condemn the sentencing of photojournalist Sai Zaw Thaike to 20 years in prison on various charges, including sedition, under laws fundamentally out of line with international human rights law. Sai Zaw Thaike faced no court hearings or other proceedings and was provided with no legal representation before his conviction. This comes in a context of political prisoners reportedly being killed and tortured by the junta during detention and prison transfers.

We call on the Office of the High Commissioner and States to do everything at their disposal to help secure the release of Sai Zaw Thaike and other political prisoners in the country.

In Myanmar, the junta’s digital dictatorship wages on relentlessly. The junta have scaled up their widespread collection of biometric and biographic data – including fingerprints, iris and face scans – without providing proper human rights-centric legislation to secure the safety of private data.  The State Administration Council is rapidly expanding a network of CCTV cameras, equipped with invasive facial recognition technology. In Mandalay, shop owners are being pressured to install CCTV cameras to acquire or renew their business licenses. According to MRTV, the delegation from the Ministry of Immigration and Population, led by Minister Myin Chain, discussed the implementation of an electronic citizen registration system in Myanmar during their visit to China.

We fear that this is an attempt to ensure mass surveillance of the civil population, leaving civil society actors with nowhere to hide from the junta’s violent repression of the right to freedom of expression and other human rights.

At the same time, the Counter Terrorism Law continues to allow for extensive surveillance – including access to communications, emails, and browsing history – and to order network providers to release personal data.

We urge States and the private sector to help end this digital dictatorship, including by immediately ending the transfer, sale or deployment of technologies to the junta that could be used to violate human rights.