Myanmar sends 12 Muslims to jail

Myanmar court sentences 12 Muslims to imprisonment for allegedly training with "Myanmar Muslim Army"

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Myanmar on Monday jailed 12 Muslim men for allegedly receiving training from the so-called “Myanmar Muslim Army.”

The men who were arrested last year received a five year jail term handed down at the Aung Myay Thar San township court under section 5J of the Emergency Provisions Act, which makes it illegal to "affect the morality or conduct of the public in a way that would undermine the security of the Union."

Matthew Bugher, a consultant to Fortify Rights criticized the decision saying that “This is injustice. There was clearly no evidence to support this verdict.”

“This sentence reveals the lack of justice, accountability and fair process in the current government and the court system,” he added.  

Deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch also said the men should be released as soon as possible because “they didn't receive a free or fair trial.”

Defense lawyers for the men claimed that the organization referred to as Myanmar Muslim Army does not exist in Myanmar, it was created by prosecutors to legalize their decision to send Muslims to jail.

Human rights groups, terrorism experts and the US State Department also have not verified the presence of the group yet.

Fortify Rights' executive director, Matthew Smith claimed that Myanmarese authorities had tortured the men who range from 19-58 years old.

According to Fortify, Soe Moe Aung, 24 was allegedly exposed to torture by the authorities while in detention, being beaten, deprived from food and water and being fed pills.  

"Justice cannot prevail when torture is tolerated," he said.

"This trial will be tainted until these allegations are properly addressed and fair trial standards are fulfilled."

Andrew Selth from Australian Institute of Policy and Science released a report titled “Burma and International Terrorism” in 2003 and gave place to the claims that “Myanmar Muslim Army” is possibly a made up movement.  

"Since September 2001, the Rangoon regime has sought to use the rubric of the global war against terrorism to cloak a renewed campaign of discrimination against Burma's broad Muslim population," he wrote.  

Myanmar does not consider the 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims as citizens and they continue their lives under apartheid-like conditions in Rakhine states.

Myanmar denies all claims over discrimination or persecution against them.

TRTWorld and agencies