Chinese projects in Myanmar spark protests, arrests

Bangkok, May 11 (IANS) Authorities in Myanmar should drop charges against ethnic Arakanese activists who took part in peaceful protests against Chinese-led oil and gas projects, Human Rights Watch said Saturday.

Ten activists are scheduled to face criminal charges in court May 13 for demonstrating and holding a peaceful march without a permit on April 18 on Maday Island in western Arakan State.

Over the past year, Myanmar authorities have arrested and prosecuted land rights activists, anti-mining campaigners and peace activists seeking an end to violence in ethnic areas for failing to comply with permit-granting provisions. These legal provisions do not conform with international human rights standards.

“Peaceful protesters should not face prison time for exercising their basic rights,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch.

“By jailing peaceful protesters, the Burmese government is creating a new class of political prisoners.”

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