London, March 17, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Open Society Foundations are deeply concerned by reports that Phyu Pa Pa Thaw, finance manager of OSM (Open Society Myanmar), has been detained in Myanmar. We call for her immediate release. We are alarmed by reports that authorities are seeking to interrogate and arrest other staff members.
The Open Society Foundations have supported the promotion of democracy in Myanmar for decades. This work began in the 1990s when the Foundations funded scholarships and training for students.
Since 2017, OSM has worked with civil society and relevant authorities for the benefit of Myanmar and its people, including to expand inclusive education and access to health care. More information about OSM’s work in Myanmar is freely available on this public fact sheet.
Claims of financial misconduct made by the military, including that OSM acted illegally by withdrawing their own funds in local currency from a local bank, are false. Claims that OSM used these funds for illegal purposes are also false. These funds were used for purposes fully within the objectives of OSM. When the military seized power, and media and communications channels, and the banking systems were restricted, OSM moved quickly to secure the funds it would need for operations. The authorities have no legal right to freeze or seize monies in any OSM bank account. OSM is closed and will remain closed.
These allegations suggest a worrying attempt to attack and discredit those who wish for a return to peace and democracy in Myanmar.
We call on the military to immediately release Phyu Pa Pa Thaw and drop these baseless claims against other staff.
Office of Communications Open Society Foundations (212) 548-0378 media@opensocietyfoundations.