Burma is faltering on its path towards democracy. It is crucial that the international community renew pressure on the Government of Burma to ensure they remain committed to a democratic future. It is for this reason that the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), and the Former Political Prisoners Society (FPPS), are calling on supporters from across the world to take photographs of their participation in our 2015 Palm Campaign. The campaign calls for an end to the use of oppressive laws to harass, arrest and imprison political activists; the unconditional release of current political prisoners; and real lasting judicial and legislative reform in Burma.
The 2015 Palm Campaign is necessary to show the Government of Burma and the international community that the world has not forgotten about political prisoners still languishing in Burma’s prisons. However the campaign symbolizes more than the pressing need for their freedom. The 2015 Campaign intends to remind the world that the democratic transition in Burma is stalling, with no real lasting reforms and no sign of substantive policy change in the country.
The number of political prisoners has increased six-fold since the end of 2013; there are now 180 political prisoners in jail. The steady rise in the number of political prisoners in the last year makes it quite clear that the Government of Burma is increasingly cracking down on fundamental freedoms in the run up to Burma’s 2015 election. Not only has progress in Burma stalled, but the government is also guilty of backsliding on reforms – the alarming political prisoner situation is demonstrative of this.
By taking photographs of themselves standing in solidarity with Burma’s political prisoners, supporters from across the globe can show the Government of Burma that the international community stands in solidarity with political prisoners, and demands lasting reform in Burma.
13 March 2015 informally signifies Burma’s Human Rights Day, which commemorates Phone Maw — the student shot dead at Rangoon Institute of Technology by government security troops during protests on this day in 1988 — a pivotal moment in the ’88 pro-democracy uprisings. The campaign will culminate on Burma’s Human Rights Day by showcasing photographs of the support and solidarity from across the world, at an exhibition in Rangoon. This event will display the international community’s widespread call that the Government of Burma must demonstrate the political will to meet the demands of this campaign.
To find out more about the campaign and how to take your photograph please visit: http://aappb.org/2015-political-prisoners-campaign/
Bo Kyi is a former political prisoner and co-founder and Joint Secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma. Follow the 2015 campaign on Twitter at: @aapp_burma and Instagram at: 2015_Palm_Campaign