30 June 2004
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)
On 24 June 2004, Burmese journalist Sein Mar was released from a Malaysian prison into the custody of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), according to the Center for Independent Journalists (CIJ) in Malaysia.
Lawyers and the media only learned of Sein Mar’s release on 28 June when she did not appear in court.
CIJ quoted UNHCR officials as saying the authorities released her on the basis of her refugee status, reuniting her with her seven-year-old daughter. Both Sein Mar and her daughter will resettle in Norway.
Sein Mar, editor of the newsletter “Yaung Chee Oo”, was arrested at a demonstration outside the Burmese embassy in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on 17 May.
She was held for over a month without being charged, along with 22 supporters of the Democratic Federation of Burma and the National League for Democracy. Malaysian laws ban the public assembly of three or more persons.
The remaining 22 people were released by the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court on 28 June, but immediately rearrested under the Immigration Act, according to the country’s independent online newspaper “Malaysiakini”.
The paper quoted UNHCR officials as saying they would most probably be charged on 29 June under Section 6(1) of the Immigration Act for entering Malaysia without proper documentation.
CIJ and SEAPA, along with 23 other international and regional media advocacy groups, signed a joint appeal for the release of Sein Mar during the 11th annual meeting of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian human rights group Suaram called upon the police to release all the arrested Burmese nationals without conditions, since the Prosecutor’s Office did not proceed with the charge.
The action by the police displayed blatant disrespect for the judiciary, international law and ethical practices, Suaram said in a statement released on 28 June.
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