New Committee for Prisoners of Conscience Affairs established

Myanmar has reconstituted the Committee for Scrutinising the Remaining Prisoners of Conscience under the name “Committee for Prisoners of Conscience Affairs.”

The reconstitution of the committee was carried out on January 5 following a request from the president. Since the name of the previous contained the word ‘remaining’, it was unable to deal with the affairs of political prisoners arrested after its founding date in May 2013.

“In our last meeting, we remarked that the Committee for Scrutinising the Remaining Prisoners of Conscience was not wide-ranging,” said Ye Aung, a member of the previous committee. 

“‘Remaining prisoners’ refers to those from before 2013, so we could not discuss the affairs of those from 2014, according to the committee’s framework. We discussed taking out of the word ‘remaining’ and, if possible, reconstituting the committee,” said Ye Aung.

In the old 19-member committee, Soe Thein, Union minister for the President’s Office, served as chairman; Aung Thein, deputy minister for the President’s Office, served as secretary; and officials from the Correction Department, Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, political parties, civil society organisations and associations for political prisoners were also included as members. 

The new committee is chaired by Deputy Home Affairs Minister Brigadier General Kyaw Kyaw Tun and includes some members of the old committee. Some officials from the President’s Office were excluded. It includes 16 people from political parties, eight government officials, U Hla Maung Shwe from Myanmar Egress, U Sit Myaing, deputy chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, U Ko Ko Gyi from the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, and U Ye Aung from the Former Political Prisoners Society.

Some of the new members are from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, the National League for Democracy and the Arakan National Party.