Skip to main content

Why is it business as usual for India? Arrest of Burmese rights leader Thin Thin, others

Counterview Desk 

Seventy three women’s rights defenders from India in an open statement have called upon the Myanmar junta to immediately release Thin Thin Aung, known to many of the signatories during her 15 years in exile in India as a Burmese refugee, as also other “illegally detained” pro-democracy activists.
A student activists seized by the dream of democratic freedom in 1988, when the Myanmar military experimented with a democratic election and Aung Sang Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy won, the crackdown that followed forced her flight across the border to Mizoram.
“Thin Thin and her husband Soe-Mynt exemplified refugees who had become part of the resistance in India”, the statement says, adding, “Many of us remember Thin Thin working in Delhi to get basic entitlements of food and shelter for less fortunate Burmese women refugees.”
After 50 years of military rule Myanmar opened up, Thin Thin Soe-Mynt left for Myanmar, becoming part of the struggle to build independent journalism there, even as carrying on with her struggle for women’s rights through the Women’s League for Democracy. Recently, following the crackdown on her online media platform Mizzima, she and other journalists were "picked up".

Text:

We, women human rights and democracy advocates, call for the Myanmar military coup council to immediately release woman rights defender and journalist Thin Thin Aung and other illegally detained pro-democracy activists. We appeal to the government, the international community, transnational business stakeholders and the morally conscious public to put pressure on the Myanmar military to end the brutal violence against protesters, restore peoples’ democratic will, restore the rule of law, and restore people’s rights including the right to freedom of expression and assembly.
We, in neighbouring India, are extremely troubled at the humanitarian and human rights crisis resulting from the February 1 military coup. The violent crackdown on democratic protests has resulted in random killings -- including of children -- mass arbitrary arrests, and the use of lethal weapons including airstrikes on urban sites especially of Myanmar’s ethnic communities. According to the rights group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, since the February 1 military coup, statistics of indiscriminate killings are pushing upwards of 600, with more than 4,000 arbitrary arrests.
The terror and pain of the spiralling statistics was brought home to us when one of Myanmar’s brightest and tireless rights and democracy activists, co-founder of the online media platform, Mizzima, disappeared on April 8. She was found held at the notorious Yay Kyi Eaing interrogation centre, and subsequently her apartment and belongings were ransacked, her computer seized, her bank account and the Mizzima funds that she managed, emptied. Mizzima has confirmed that its co-founder, Daw Thin Thin Aung, and an office staffer, James, were also picked up. Reporters Ko Zaw Zaw and Ko Than Htike Aungare also in custody.
Some of us know Thin Thin. She lived amongst us for 15 years in exile as a Burmese refugee. She was one among the many student activists seized by the dream of democratic freedom in 1988, when the Myanmar military experimented with a democratic election and Aung Sang SuuKyi and the National League for Democracy won. The crackdown on the student uprising propelled her flight across the border to Mizoram. At that time, people were sympathetic to these student refugees and they had public support.
Thin Thin and her husband Soe-Mynt exemplified refugees who had become part of the resistance in India. Thin Thin got a business management degree and the two co-founded the news media, Mizzima, in 1998. Many of us remember Thin Thin working in Delhi to get basic entitlements of food and shelter for less fortunate Burmese women refugees. When after 50 years of military rule Myanmar opened up, Thin Thin and Soe-Mynt left for Myanmar, becoming part of the struggle to build independent journalism there. Once in Yangon, Thin Thin carried over her struggle for women’s rights through the Women’s League for Democracy. She also carried with her goodwill and friendship towards India and Indians. Many of us met her at meetings in Kathmandu and Brussels. She, determinedly, pushed against the patriarchies entrenched during 50 years of military rule and its accompanying social hyper-masculinities. And always, along with Women’s League of Democracy, she was outspoken on the need for federal inclusion and attention to women of the ethnic nationalities of Myanmar. (Sadly that did not include the persecuted Rohingya.)
Today, Thin Thin and thousands of young women and men have been picked up and now face the likelihood of custodial torture in a situation where the rule of law has been suspended. Moreover, the military has been listed by the UN secretary-general as a party “credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape or other forms of sexual violence.”
We appeal to democratic governments, including India, to not align themselves on the wrong side of history with brutally repressive military dictators in Myanmar. As concerned citizens, we are distressed at the Indian government’s equivocation and delay in robust condemnation of the violence and support for the peoples’ will.
We are distressed at India’s diplomatic representatives gracing Myanmar’s military day parade in the midst of mounting evidence of the brutal use of force.
Thin Thin and thousands of young women and men have been picked up and face custodial torture as the rule of law stands suspended
We are at a loss to understand the determination of Indian state agencies and institutions to flout the jus cogens principle of non-refoulement upheld by Indian jurisprudence and reiterated in international human rights treaties which India has signed and ratified. We are outraged at the government’s directive to deport Rohingya Muslim refugees (including a 14-year-old girl) as ‘illegal migrants’ back to Myanmar from where they fled ‘ethnic cleansing’ and where after the military coup the rule of law has been suspended.
We are perturbed at why for Indian state owned and private enterprises it is business as usual, when other democracies are snapping economic and military links.
The UN independent Fact Finding Mission 2019 had warned foreign companies, including named Indian companies, to sever their economic relationship with the hydra headed military business conglomerates or risk being seen as complicit in the military’s violation of human rights. 
In the backdrop of the coup, three interrelated international accountability processes are taking place focused on Myanmar’s human rights abuses -- particularly the Rohingya genocide: at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), which was created by the UN Human Rights Council to build criminal cases for international crimes committed in Myanmar since 2011. This includes crimes committed in the context of the February 1 military coup.
It is time for India, the international community, transnational corporations, and all morally conscious sections of society to support the will of the people of Myanmar.
  • We appeal that the military should be pressured to immediately release Thin Thin Aung and others illegally detained.
  • We urge that in the interim, the military coup council give immediate access to International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Thin Thin Aung and the other detained as per humanitarian law and protocols.
  • We are in complete solidarity with the people of Myanmar at this critical hour.

Comments

TRENDING

RSS wanted Constitution 'replaced' by Manusmriti which abused Dalits, women

By Shamsul Islam* The Constituent Assembly of India finalized the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949 which is celebrated as the Constitution Day This Constitution promised new born Indian Republic a polity based on democracy, justice, egalitarianism and rule of law. However, RSS was greatly annoyed. Four days after the historic event of approval of it, the RSS English “Organiser” in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained:

Dalits 'celebrate' Constitutional Power Era in 12,500 villages of 16 districts on Nov 26

By Pradip More*  It is a fact that the majority of the people do not have much knowledge about the law, and especially the Constitution. Yet, today's younger generation is becoming increasingly aware of its rights. One wished it would have been good if it was taught about the Constitution well in the schools.

Critics of your government should not be in jail: PUCL shoots open letter to Modi

Counterview Desk In an open letter, Ravikiran Jain, national president, and Dr V Suresh, general secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have taken strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view that raising human rights issues can ‘tarnish’ the country’s reputation, stating, those who raise human rights concerns do it “through established United Nations mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights.”

Mysterious death of Kishenji 'triggered' series of splits in Maoist camp in India

By Harsh Thakor* On November 24 fell the 10th death anniversary of Kishenji, a prominent Maoist leader, he was also a poet, a scientist, and a soldier. Since his school days he dreamt of planting the seed to create new man. Born in 1954 in Peddapally town (in Karimnagar district, north Telangana), Kishenji was raised by his father Venkataiah (a “freedom fighter”, he called him) and a progressive mother, Madhuramma.

Covid taught us: Exams are cruel process of 'eliminating' those seeking education

By Sandeep Pandey, Seema Muniz, Gopal Krishna Verma* Some people are disheartened with the disruption in children’s education due to the menace of Covid and the successive lockdowns. While a number of children are getting used to attending online classes, their counterparts from the weaker socio-economic backgrounds continue to struggle either because of unfamiliarity with technology or because of having to share a single device with their siblings and/or parents. More unfortunate ones have been completely pushed out of the system which has resulted in the virtual drop in the rate of enrolment.

Book on Bhil rebels offers other side of history, neglected by 'nationalist' historians

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  One of the major accusations against Indian historians is that of neglecting and ignoring the role of the marginalised in the freedom struggle. Most of the time, we are ‘informed’ that there were some ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ of the freedom movement, all of them belonging to the same stock of caste as well as ‘power’ positions as their opponents.

Govt of India responsible for 71% delays in NREGA wage payments, say economists

Counterview Desk  In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than 70 economists have urged the Government of India to release “adequate funds” for implementing the rural jobs guarantee scheme under the MGNREGA immediately, pointing out that the pandemic continues to adversely affect the living condition of working families.

'We are scared to even raise our voice': Delhi sewer workers tell roundtable

By Our Representative  A roundtable attended by more than 100 sewer workers in Delhi, saw sharp voices against the contract system, poor wages and lack of any social benefits. Organised by the Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM), which has refused to reveal the identity of the sewer workers who spoke on the occasion for fear of retaliation from the authorities, saw workers complain that have been working for more than 10 years, hoping that someday they would be made permanent.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Govt of India's 'narrative' of hate, 'clarion call' for onslaught on civil society: Ex-babus

Counterview Desk  Addressing “fellow citizens”, the Constitution Conduct Group (CCG), having former prominent civil servants as it members, has said that recent assertions by National Human Rights Commission National Human Rights Commission Justice (retd) Arun Mishra, the Prime Minister and General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, portent a deliberate and disturbing strategy to “deny civil society the space and wherewithal for its operation.”