The All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) has called for the release of Min Htay, one of its northern branch leaders, who was arrested on 28 December* for allegedly liaising with the outlawed Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO).
The ABSDF, which is one of eight armed groups that signed a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) with the Burmese government in October 2015, said in a statement on Saturday that securing Min Htay’s release would bode well for the current peace and trust-building process.
ABSDF Vice-chairman Myo Win said that “Comrade” Min Htay should not have been detained under the Unlawful Association Act, but rather the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee, who filed the charges, should work to resolve the matter through political channels.
“As this is a political issue, it should be resolved through political means,” he told DVB. “Since the NCA [was signed], we have negotiated in detail with the government over various situations. If Comrade Min Htay is charged under [Unlawful Association Act] Article 17 (1), how about other members of ABSDF? Will they be arrested too?”
In its statement on 7 January, the ABSDF said that Min Htay was arrested at Sein Lone joint checkpoint between Bhamo and Lwegel on the Chinese border, and is now being held at Bhamo Prison in Kachin State.
The ABSDF was formed in 1988 in the jungles of eastern Burma, mostly by former students who escaped the clutches of the military as it conducted a witch-hunt for those involved in demonstrations which were violently suppressed in August and September of that year. Several hundred students took up arms and joined the conflict alongside the KIO, the Karen National Union and other ethnic militias against the then ruling Burmese military junta.
*Not 30 December as originally reported.