Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP-B) said continued detention of political prisoners in the country serves as proof that ‘free and fair elections does not mean civil and political rights exist’ in the country.
The AAPP-B published a statement on Armed Forces Day, 27 March, calling on the international community to maintain pressure on the ruling government led by President Thein Sein “until all political prisoners are released and concrete measures are taken to ensure political and civil liberties are enjoyed by all in Burma”.
The statement asserted that the Burmese government is likely using the by-elections to lure western nations into removing the web of sanctions that have been implemented against the country.
Tate Naing, secretary of the AAPP –B, said the international community is viewing the by-elections, where opposition parties will be vying for the 48 vacated seats in parliament, as sign that the democratic principles are developing within the country. However, the secretary was quick to point out that fraudulent voter lists and coercion have plagued the run-up to the polls.
“We can’t only look at the by-elections period to weight the democratic developments and the national reconciliation in Burma,” said Tate Naing.
According to statistics by the AAPP-B, 959 political prisoners are still locked up in Burma. Some of prisoners are reportedly in poor health and are not receiving medical attention.
According to reports, 152 political detainees have died in interrogation centres in Burmese prisons since 1988.