Forested hills in Myanmar

EIA strongly condemns persecution of Karen environmental activist in Myanmar

EIA strongly condemns the use of Penal Code 505(b) against environmental defender Saw Tha Poe from Karen State, Myanmar


Saw Tha Poe

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has been made aware that on 6 March 2020, the state police from Myaingkalay and Hpa-an police station in Karen state, Myanmar, attempted to arrest Karen environmental activist Saw Tha Poe under Penal code 505(b).

Information to date suggests that the charges stem from his part in a traditional prayer ceremony asking for protection of water suspected of being contaminated from a state-owned coal-powered cement factory.

EIA strongly condemns the actions of the state against Saw Tha Poe. Penal code 505(b) is used by the authorities in Myanmar to stifle dissent, intimidate and create fear. This law is a tool that has been used to criminalise what should be the right to a peaceful assembly and to exploit rather than serve justice.

EIA believes that environmental defenders and, in particular, indigenous people fighting for their survival against vested interests are especially targeted; in this case, using an archaic law to silence a well-known environmentalist is unacceptable.

EIA adds it voice to others and calls for the state authorities to drop all charges and stop their campaign of intimidation immediately. Myanmar needs to cease using this law to criminalise innocent people.

Further, EIA calls for the reform of all restrictive legislation being used by authorities in Myanmar to intimidate and threaten those protecting their environment and lives.


Faith Doherty
Forests Campaigns Leader
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)

62-63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7354 7960