Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Celebrates the Release of Dr. Tun Aung
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission commends Rep. Aaron Schock for his work in securing the freedom of Dr. Tun Aung, a prisoner of conscience from Myanmar. Rep. Schock traveled to Myanmar earlier this month to personally petition the government for Dr. Aung’s release and was in Yangon to meet with him when he was freed.
Dr. Aung had been in prison since June of 2012. He had been convicted of several charges in relation to a riot that occurred in Rakhine State, despite multiple eyewitness accounts that indicated that Dr. Aung had only been attempting to pacify the crowd. Dr. Aung served as a physician and a leader in his local mosque. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and the sentence was later increased to 17 years. During his time in prison, Dr. Aung was not allowed to visit with his family and was unable to receive medications.
“Over the past year, my office worked all angles to advocate for Dr. Tun Aung’s release from prison,” Rep. Schock said. “The positive outcome is a testament to that hard work, and the hard work of human rights organizations like Amnesty International that have worked on this case for years. Human rights has been and should continue to be a pillar of U.S. foreign policy, and we need to make it clear to all governments that wrongful imprisonment of people is unacceptable. Dr. Tun Aung’s release is a welcome gesture on the part of the government of Myanmar, and I am hopeful these steps indicate a lasting shift toward respect for universal human rights and promoting a free society.”
Congressman Schock’s successful advocacy is a testament to his dedication to the cause of international human rights and demonstrates the impact that members of Congress can have when advocating on behalf of human rights defenders around the world. Through the Defending Freedoms Project, the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission connects members of Congress with prisoners of conscience around the globe. The advocacy of members like Rep. Schock reminds human rights defenders that they have allies in Washington who are willing to stand with them in solidarity as they struggle peacefully for their basic human rights.