Asia - Pacific

Rights group urges Myanmar to stop arresting family, friends of protesters

Human Rights Watch calls for unconditional release of all people wrongfully held, end ‘all collective punishment’

SM Najmus Sakib   | 14.06.2021
Rights group urges Myanmar to stop arresting family, friends of protesters

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Myanmar security forces are arbitrarily arresting and detaining family and friends of activists, protesters, and opposition members in violation of fundamental principles of international human rights law, a global rights body said.

In a statement, the New York-based Human Rights Watch called on Myanmar authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release all those people wrongfully held and end all collective punishment.”

Citing Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the statement said since the Feb. 1 military coup in the country, security forces have detained at least 76 people, including an infant, during raids when they were unable to find the person they sought to arrest.

At least 48 of those people are still in detention, with some now held for more than three months, it added.

“Seizing family members and friends as hostages is a thuggish tactic by Myanmar’s security forces to terrorize the population and coerce activists to turn themselves in,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW’s Asia division.

Security forces unable to find specific suspects have arrested their parents, children, other relatives, and friends who happened to be present during the search, the rights watchdog said.

“Myanmar’s junta has taken unlawful detention to a noxious new level by detaining those close to people who themselves should not be facing arrest,” Robertson said.

“Concerned governments should urgently impose targeted sanctions and a global arms embargo or expect the junta to continue to raise the stakes on abusive actions," he added.

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