Myanmar: Student leader finally free!

11 April 2016, 10:54 UTC

Good news! Phyoe Phyoe Aung, who was detained in Myanmar after helping to organize largely peaceful student protests, has finally been released more than one year on.

Amnesty supporters across the world wrote more than 394,000 letters, emails, tweets and more for Phyoe Phyoe Aung during Write for Rights, our global letter-writing marathon.

The good news came after the new government in Myanmar announced it would work to release all prisoners of conscience as soon as possible. A court then dropped charges against Phyoe Phyoe Aung and scores of students involved in protests during March 2015.

While still in jail, Phyoe Phyoe Aung told us: “I thank everyone very much for their support for me and our movement. Receiving letters gives me real inspiration for what we are doing. I have begun to notice that the world is watching and cheering us – we are not alone.”

Student leader Phyoe Phyoe Aung had helped to organize a series of marches against a new law in Myanmar, which students said limited academic freedom. In March 2015, as the protesters got closer to Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, they were blocked by police who beat them with batons before arresting them.

She and more than 100 other student activists were charged with a range of questionable criminal offences. Some, including Phyoe Phyoe Aung, could have faced more than nine years in prison.

Phyoe Phyoe Aung’s release sends an encouraging message about the new government’s commitment to ending political arrest and imprisonment in Myanmar. But there is still more work to do, and Amnesty International will continue to campaign for the release of all remaining prisoners of conscience to ensure that no one is left behind bars.