Lahpai Gam is a Kachin farmer who was arrested in June 2012 by the military-backed government in Burma. He was charged under Article 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act, and he is serving a 21 year prison sentence in Myitkyina Prison.
Lahpai Gam was living in a refugee camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) with his family after fleeing from conflict areas in Northern Burma. To support his family, he requested permission from a camp supervisor to work as a herdsman outside the camp. While taking a lunch break during the trip, he and his friends were taken by the Burmese Army 37th battalion for questioning. At first he was not given any reason for the arrest but later he was accused of being a soldier from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and carrying out bombing operations near Myitkyina. The KIA is the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation, which works for democracy and more autonomy for the Kachin people.
He was brutally tortured and forced to make false confession about his connection with the KIA and different bombings in the area. He was also accused of leaving the refugee camp several times to attend military training sessions with the KIA. According to family members, during the interrogations, he was repeatedly kicked, beaten, forced to drink water mixed with fuel, and was forced to have sexual intercourse with another male prisoner.
After more than a year in detention, he was sentenced to 2 years in prison in November 2013, and an additional 5 years were added to his sentence on 19th December 2013. An additional 14 years were added again to his sentence on 5th June 2014, and now he is serving a 21 year prison sentence in Myitkyina Prison.
On 30th January 2014, the United Nations Working Group On Arbitrary Detention issued a ruling that the Burmese government’s detention of Kachin farmer Laphai Gam is arbitrary, and demanded his immediate release. The official opinion of the UN Working group is that the detention of Laphai Gam is in contravention of Articles 13, 18, 19 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Brang Yung, who was arrested and charged along with Lahpai Gam, has finally been released, but Lahpai Gam has had his appeal turned down.
We need to step up pressure to ensure Lahpai Gam is released! He is innocent, and should not spend one more day in jail.
Please take action by sending this email to Burma's Home Affairs Minister U Kyaw Swe.
You can also write to Lahpai Gam in prison to express your solidarity.
We know political prisoners have been receiving postcards and letters from our supporters, so please take a moment to send a letter or a postcard. It really means a lot to a political prisoner in jail to receive a postcard from abroad.
Please write to:
C/O The Governor of Myitkyina Prison