Myanmar police officers used excessive force during a crackdown on protesters and arrested more than 100 individuals in Letpadan, Bago Region in March, according to a new report released by Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic and Fortify Rights. Authorities should release individuals wrongfully detained for exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, the organizations said.
Compiling evidence from dozens of eyewitness accounts, more than 500 photographs, and 40 videos, the Clinic and Fortify Rights found that police brutally punched, kicked, and beat unarmed protesters with batons on their heads, backs, and legs in the town of Letpadan on March 10. Police also beat protesters in police custody, including at least one protester being treated in an ambulance and others whose hands were bound behind their backs.
The new report, Crackdown at Letpadan: Excessive Use of Force and Violations of the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Expression in Letpadan, Bago Region, Myanmar (PDF) also details how not all police officers at the scene participated in violence during the crackdown. Some police officers used riot shields or their own bodies to protect protesters from attacks by other police officers, providing further evidence of the unjustified use of force by some officers.
Students from the International Human Rights Clinic—Roi Bachmutsky ’17, Roni Druks ’17, Courtney Svoboda ’16, Matthew Thiman ’16, Yao Yang Harvard/Berkeley ’16, and Sharon Yuen LLM ’16—provided essential support in reviewing evidence as well as with writing and editing for the report. The team worked under the direction of the report’s lead researcher, Matthew Bugher ’11, who was a Global Justice Fellow at Harvard Law School as well as Clinical Professor Tyler Giannini, co-director of the Clinic.