Myanmar authorities should immediately release imprisoned human rights defenders and end criminal proceedings against dozens of peaceful protesters and others charged in relation to recent legitimate activities, Fortify Rights and nine other human rights organisations said in a joint statement yesterday.
"Aung San Suu Kyi's government needs to immediately take appropriate measures to free all political prisoners in Myanmar," said Ismail Wolff, Fortify Rights regional director.
He said the National League for Democracy should use its increased majority in parliament to repeal or amend abusive laws that infringe on fundamental rights, including the right to peaceful assembly.
Police arrested and detained at least 25 peaceful protesters following a series of anti-war campaigns organised by the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) beginning in early September.
The protests called for the government to lift mobile-internet restrictions in Rakhine and Chin states, where armed conflict between the Myanmar armed forces and the Arakan Army is going on.
In a joint statement released from Bangkok, the rights bodies called on the Myanmar authorities to end the crackdown on human rights defenders and peaceful protesters.
"The Myanmar authorities' arbitrary targeting of student activists calling for peace and the end of human rights violations contravenes the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," the statement says.
Most of the detained protesters face multiple charges -- in some cases, in multiple jurisdictions -- including for alleged violations under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law (Peaceful Assembly Law), the Myanmar Criminal Code, and the Natural Disaster Management Law.
"The prosecution of those involved in the campaigns violates the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," the statement says.
Any restrictions on these rights must be provided by law, in pursuit of a legitimate aim, and necessary and proportionate to that aim, it added.