It seems some governments just can’t hack it when their citizens try to live ordinary lives and will look for any excuse to lock them up.
From seemingly innocent gestures to being the wrong sex, various governments around the world have used these excuses to lock up their own citizens – just because they can.
And while it sounds far fetched to us here in Australia, these are the sorts of things taking place to innocent people overseas even though they have technically committed no crime.
Here are just five bizarre excuses used by governments to imprison their own people:
1) For trying to stop a brawl
In Burma, Dr Tun Aung was asked by the police to come and help break up a riot between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.
Eyewitness accounts say that, when he got there, he actively tried to calm the crowd.
But that night he was seized by the authorities for being connected with the riots, and was held incommunicado, for months.
He is now serving a staggering 17 year sentence in prison, where he is suffering with a pituitary tumour.
Amnesty International believes the charges are false and Dr Tun Aung was targeted for his role as an Islamic community leader.
2) For presenting a gift in public
This, along with swearing in public, is one of the weird and wacky ways that the Government of Belarus can charge people under its Law on Mass Actions.
The Belarus authorities regularly imprison, fine or beat up people merely for gathering in public, holding protests, or forming any kind of community organisation.
For example, after Ihar Tsikhanyuk went to a meeting of Gay Belarus – a group of people trying to register as a LGBTI community organisation – he was taken to a police station and beaten by police.
They scrolled through photos on his phone and mocked him for being gay.
The local hospital refused to document his injuries and the authorities will not investigate the attack.
3) For protecting your mum from being attacked by soldiers
Narimam Tamimi, a mother of four, lives in the Palestinian village Nabi Sabeh, which is constantly attacked by Israeli forces.
The soldiers have killed two villagers, including Narimam’s brother who they shot in the back.
They have injured hundreds more, such as Narimam’s children, who have been hospitalised after being hit by rubber bullets and teargas.
Narimam is one of the villagers who hold weekly peaceful protests against this violence.
At one of these protests, she tried to protect her elderly mother from being attacked by soldiers, and Narimam was arrested for this.
4) Just for being a woman in Mexico
It was a day like any other for Mexican housewife and mother of four Miriam Lopez, when she dropped her children off at school one morning.
But suddenly she was seized by soldiers, blindfolded, tied up, and taken to a military barracks, where over the next week she was repeatedly raped and tortured with electric shocks, near-asphyxiation and stress positions.
She was then forced to sign a false confession for drug charges, and was kept in prison for seven months.
Despite since identifying some of her attackers, no charges have been laid against them.
Miriam is not the only one. Reports of torture and ill-treatment have skyrocketed by 500 per cent in Mexico between 2006 and 2012.
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