3 Arbitrary Detention and Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

 

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

- Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

3.1 Background

“If people are going to be arrested for expressing their opinions, their political opinions, then how can we say that there is a hope for political freedom in Burma, and without political freedom, how can there be democracy?”

 Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the NLD, August 2002

 

“There are no political prisoners. ”

 SPDC Colonel Tin Hlaing, Burma's Minister of Home Affairs and chairperson for the National Human Rights Committee in Burma, at a 19 May 2002 ASEAN meeting on counter-terrorism in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

The SPDC maintains an extensive network of Military Intelligence agents, police, and government officials ready to detain anyone suspected of holding or expressing anti-government opinions in Burma. The military in Burma has established and enforced stringent laws curtailing civil and political freedoms, enabling the junta to crush any political opposition. The SPDC’s laws and regulations criminalize freedom of thought, the dissemination of information, and the right of association and assembly. The most commonly employed laws banning the demonstration of civil and political rights have been the 1923 Government’s Official Secrets Act, the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act, the 1957 Unlawful Associations Act, the 1962 Printers’ and Publishers’ Registration Law, the 1975 State Protection Law, and Law No. 5/96. These laws and orders have restricted the civil and political rights of Burmese citizens for years. Now, with technological advances in communication available across the globe, new laws have been enacted in order to provide the SPDC authorities additional legal bases to curtail freedom of expression and the exchange of information. For more information on these laws, please refer to the chapters on the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly and association.

Throughout 2002, SPDC personnel continued to arbitrarily detain persons across Burma for illegal association with groups seen as anti-government. In the aftermath of the ‘global war on terror,’ the SPDC began to structure its anti-opposition activity within the framework of countering terrorist organizations. In areas of ethnic insurgency, these detentions were common and in most cases individuals suspected of such illegal association were seized, detained, interrogated, and sometimes tortured and killed without warrant or evidence against them. In 2002, there were also numerous reports of individuals who disappeared following arrest and detention, many of whom are feared dead. Human rights organizations, such as the Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG), have argued that the current definition of ‘political prisoner’ used in the context of Burma is too narrow and excludes the thousands of ethnic minority villagers who are routinely arrested, tortured, and imprisoned under Articles 17/1 (contact with illegal organizations) and Article 17/2 (rising against the State).

In addition to individuals arrested for political reasons, SPDC officials continued to arbitrarily arrest and detain people for "crimes" such as failure to pay army taxes or to sell the required crop quota to the government purchasing centers. Many farmers were arrested in the year 2002 under such circumstances. These farmers were detained, without trial, until the required quota was met. The SPDC also arrested religious minorities, including Muslims and Christians, for various reasons. Many people arbitrarily detained were released following payment of fines set by the official who arrested them, exemplifying the extent to which corruption exists within Burma. Indeed, SPDC troops and officials often arrest people for no other reason than to extort money from them. Many Burmese citizens deported by Thai authorities in 2002 were arrested and forced to pay high fees for "illegally leaving the country," or else faced imprisonment or forced labor. Thai authorities also arrested several Burmese political activists working in Thailand in 2002 and deported them into the waiting hands of the SPDC, reflecting a new Thai government policy thought to appease the Burmese government by ending its tolerance for Burmese activists working within Thai borders.

Throughout 2002, the SPDC periodically released political prisoners. By the end of the year approximately 300 prisoners had been freed, the majority of whom were NLD members, including members of parliament-elect, who had been detained without charge or trial, some since July 1998. (Source: AAPP) NLD Party leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released on 6 May 2002 after spending 18 months under house arrest. These releases were apparent goodwill gestures by the regime, which occurred in conjunction with their ongoing talks with Aung San Suu Kyi. The releases have also been linked to recent visits by Razali Ismail, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Burma and Professor Paulo Pinheiro, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma. Many of those released in 2002 had already finished their prison sentences. Others had been held without being charged for months or even years. The release of political prisoners has long been a prerequisite of opposition groups and international governments and agencies for dialogue towards reconciliation in the country. In an August 2002 statement, Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the NLD, stated "we repeat, again and again, we reiterate, the release of political prisoners is the most important thing for all those who truly wish to bring about change in Burma."

Former political prisoner and activist Bo Kyi of AAPP called the prisoner release issue a "political pawn" played by the SPDC to garner international aid and quell criticism of its human rights record. Many have accused the SPDC of holding the political prisoners hostage in the ongoing political dialogue between the military junta and opposition groups.

Despite the releases, Amnesty International estimates that over 1,300 political prisoners remain in jail (the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) estimated this number at 1,390 for the end of 2002). In a speech before the UN General Assembly in November 2001, the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burma stated that these individuals had been detained "for having peacefully expressed their views, verbally, through participation in peaceful demonstrations, or activities in political parties, for having written about human rights or political issues in the country, or for possessing prohibited writings." Among those who remain incarcerated are 1988 student leader Min Ko Naing and NLD political strategist U Win Tin. More than 25 current political prisoners have already completed their sentences but continue to be detained under article 10(a) of the penal code, which gives the SPDC broad discretion to extend their prison periods. Prisoners have received extended sentences for allegedly trying to send information to the UN about prison conditions and for attempting to circulate news and written materials inside prisons. The SPDC continues to officially deny that there are any political prisoners in Burma. Those prisoners who have been released continue to have their freedom of expression and association restricted and many were made to sign pledges that they would not engage in politics. Additionally, freed political prisoners are regularly subject to harassment by government officials and have difficulty finding work and continuing their education.

In 2002, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma were allowed to visit prisons and political prisoners when they received permission from the SPDC. While ICRC access is a positive sign, there were mixed reports as to whether there has been any real improvement in prison conditions. Information gathered by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) from recently released prisoners indicates that the behavior of prison authorities and military intelligence towards both political and non-political prisoners remains brutal. At least 83 political prisoners have died in Burma’s prisons since 1988. Five political prisoners died while in custody during 2002¾Mai Aik Pan, Aung May Thu, Ko Win Than, U Sai Pha, and U Maung Ko. Fifteen other prisoners held in prisons in southern Burma were reported missing and are believed to have been killed by the SPDC. (Source: AAPP)

3.2 Denial of a Fair and Public Trial

Although remnants of the British-era legal system are formally in place in Burma, the court system and its operation remain seriously flawed, particularly in the handling of political cases. In 1975 the State Protection Act was passed by the Burma Socialist Party Programme in order to protect the state from potentially destructive elements. Article 10(a) of this act allows for an individual to be detained for up to three years without a trial. This means that political prisoners in detainment are denied the rights given to sentenced prisoners and are therefore often subjected to extraordinarily repressive measures. For example, under article 10(a) a detainee can be denied visiting privileges and may be put into solitary confinement. If the military regime believes a prisoner to be a threat to the state, after that prisoner has served his/her sentence under article 10(a) he/she can be immediately re-detained.

Throughout 2002, the SPDC continued to rule by decree and was not bound by any constitutional provision providing for fair trials or any other rights. Not only have the people charged under the various law and military decrees been consistently denied fair trials and the due process of law, but also the judicial system itself has been emasculated over the years. The SPDC appoints the Judges of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court selects judges for the lower courts, but requires the approval of SPDC authorities. The Supreme Court is further in charge of supervising the lower courts. The Judiciary Law does not contain any provisions on the security of tenure for judges and their protection from arbitrary removal, thus leaving such issues entirely in the hands of the SPDC and, what is worse, without any guarantees provided by law by which the SPDC is bound.

In addition to the SPDC’s unrestricted power in the appointment of judges, the courts are powerless to protect the rights of victims of oppression. This is so because a great number of decrees have been promulgated by the SPDC for the purpose of repressing political activity and the freedoms of thought, expression, association and movement, among others. In addition, emergency laws are still resorted to. The courts have no jurisdiction to challenge or to discard this repressive legal arsenal.

Unprofessional behavior by some court officials, the use of overly broad laws including the Emergency provisions Act of 1950, the Unlawful Associations Act, the Habitual Offenders Act, and the Law on Safeguarding the State from the danger of Destructionists, and the manipulation of the courts for political ends continue to deprive citizens of the right to a fair trial and the rule of law.

Some basic due process rights, including the right to a public trial and to be represented by a defense attorney are generally respected, except in political cases that the authorities deem especially sensitive. Without the permission of the intelligence organs, judges cannot even let the family and counsel of the accused know what sentence has been passed. In many cases, the accused is kept in ignorance of the section of law under which he is charged. There have been reported instances where Military Intelligence has passed sentences orally at the time of arrest, before any trial had taken place. More often than not trials are held on camera. Defendants with political charges are given little chance to speak during the trial, let alone present a proper defense. Even where they manage to make a statement, the judges pay no heed to it. Prior to being charged, detainees rarely have access to legal counsel or their families, and political detainees have no opportunity to obtain release on bail. In most political cases, trials are held in courtrooms on prison compounds and are not open to the public. In these instances, defense counsel appears to serve no purpose other than to provide moral support, since reliable reports indicate that verdicts are dictated by higher authorities.

Political detainees are held incommunicado for long periods. Even after being charged, detainees rarely have benefit of counsel. In one case, Comedian Par Par Lay, Lu Zaw and two other members of their performance group were arrested on January 10, 1996 after giving a performance at NLD headquarters. On the day of their trial in March 1996, they were sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment and no one, including their lawyers, was allowed in court. NLD leaders Kyi Maung, Tin Oo, Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Htein were prevented from traveling to Mandalay to appear as witnesses for the defense.

3.3 Life of Prisoners

There are 39 prisons in Burma, and 20 of them detain political prisoners. All prisons have been places of numerous violations of human dignity and brutal harassment. Conditions of detention in prison remain deplorable, and fall far short of international standards such as the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under Any forms of Detention or Imprisonment. In fact, conditions of detention fall short of even established laws in Burma. Under the current conditions of the military junta, political prisoners have been denied the rights entitled to them by the Union of Myanmar Prison Manual. Furthermore, these prisoners are often subjected to extra prohibitive and repressive measures not mentioned in the prison manual. For example, on paper every prisoner has the right to parole. Chapter 11, article 59[5] of the Union of Myanmar Prison Manual states: ‘A prisoner who has acted in accordance with prison regulation has the right to parole at least 60, 70 or 90 days a year.’ In reality, however, political prisoners are almost always denied this right.

In May 1999, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that it had begun to visit prisons in Burma. In March 2000, the ICRC also began visiting labor camps where prisoners have been held in extremely poor conditions. In addition, the ICRC has reported that they have been able to visit prisoners held in government guesthouses, where NLD members have been detained without charge or trial since the party’s announcement in September 1998 that they would convene parliament unilaterally. Yet despite this international monitoring of conditions in Burmese prisons, maltreatment of prisoners continued to be reported in the year 2002. These abuses include torture, prolonged shackling, lack of proper medical care, and insufficient food. (For more information on torture of prisoners, see relevant chapter on torture.)

Prisoners were also subjected to severe overcrowding, conditions that by themselves constitute cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in other parts of the world. It is standard in prisons throughout Burma for three or four prisoners to be held in small cells measuring 8 by 12 feet (2.6 by 3 meters) for more than 20 hours a day. They are fed an inadequate diet of a thin bean soup or vegetables, sometimes supplemented with a small piece of fish only once a week. In Thayet prison, Magwe Division, where there are approximately 100 political prisoners, three persons are placed in cells measuring 12' x 8' where they sleep, eat, and defecate. These conditions are inhumane and are a danger to the health of the prisoners, frequently causing sickness and sometimes death.

Medical treatment is rarely provided and then only when a prisoner’s illness has reached a severe stage. The most common diseases among the prisoners are: gastrointestinal diseases (amoebic dysentery, bacillary dysentery and diarrhea), jaundice (viral and amoebic hepatitis), AIDS, tuberculosis, and skin diseases. Conditions in prison allow for the easy transmission of these diseases due to poor sanitation, unclean and semi-cooked food, dirty kitchens, polluted surroundings, and lack of personal hygiene (particularly because of poor water supplies).

In April 2003, the ICRC’s chief delegate in Burma, Michel Ducraux, stated that "there has been a marked improvement in the physical, material, and psychological conditions of those jailed since Red Cross visits to prisons began in 1999." In 2002, the Red Cross claimed its workers visited 3,000 prisoners in 44 places of detention (AAPP estimates that there are 100,000 prisoners in 39 prisons, over 70 labor camps, and numerous detention centers.) However, numerous prisoner testimonies report that conditions in prisons remained deplorable in 2002, but did improve temporarily while international organizations visited prisons (see "Personal Accounts" section 3.16 at the end of this chapter for an interview with a political prisoner released in 2002). As the authorities are given prior notice before visits of international inspection teams, they are able to prepare for these visits and conditions do not reflect the real state of the prisons.

Political prisoners who protest the abuse and ill treatment of the prison officials are frequently given both severe punishments and additional prison terms. Political prisoners are not allowed to communicate with one another. In addition, they are only allowed to meet with their families after they have been sentenced and even then sometimes months later. Apart from the political prisoners who are put in solitary confinement, an unknown number are forced to perform hard labor in their respective prisons on a daily basis.

While Burmese law states that prisoners should be allowed to have access to reading material, and should be allowed to receive and write letters, prisoners are largely denied these rights. In recent years restrictions on books have been slightly relaxed and since 1999, some prisons have allowed prisoners to read religious books and magazines. However authorities usually hold any books for 30 days prior to giving it to a prisoner in order to censor it. In addition, political prisoners are frequently prohibited from writing letters to their families. In many cases, prisoners caught with paper or pens are brutally beaten or put in solitary confinement for many days. Thus, for most prisoners, the only times they have written contact with their families are on those occasions when the ICRC visits the prisons, and they can send and receive letters through them.

Prisoners are extremely dependent on their families to supplement the poor food and almost non-existent medical care received in prison. Some political prisoners have died from the lack of essential assistance such as medicine and nutritious food. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Burma, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, reported in a December 2002 statement that "several areas where further attention would be required include the quality of food...access to qualified medical attention and treatment, especially in cases of emergency. Since July 2002, four political prisoners have died in detention (Mai Aik Pan, U Aung May Thu, U Sai Pa and U Maung Ko). These deaths were allegedly due to delays in getting clearance from authorities regarding access to urgent medical assistance."

The SPDC intentionally tries to break the spirit of political prisoners by sending them to remote prisons far away from their families. Meanwhile the Military Intelligence and local authorities of the SPDC regularly intimidate and persecute the family members of political prisoners. Sometimes their belongings are confiscated and in many cases family members of prisoners lose their jobs, so that in the end they find it very hard to provide regular support for their imprisoned family member.

Even after their release, political prisoners continue to be subjected to harassment and discrimination. MI agents often warn potential employers not to hire former political prisoners, making it difficult for them to earn a living. During politically sensitive periods, such as opposition and national anniversary dates, former political prisoners are often detained and interrogated without reason. In addition to this type of harassment, students who are released from prison are not allowed to rejoin universities. Ex-prisoners are refused a passport when they want to go abroad for education or business. By severely limiting their educational and economic opportunities, the SPDC works to marginalize political prisoners from society.

Reports from Prisons in Burma

Buthidaung Prison

In July 2002, a riot between prisoners and prison guards broke out in Buthidaung Prison in Arakan State, northwestern Burma. The riot broke out when prisoners believed they were going to be used as porters in Shan State in the SPDC’s fight against the rebel Shan State Army. Prisons guards told prisoners they were to be brought to labor camps in Arakan State.

Previously in June, one hundred Buthidaung prisoners thought to have been taken to labor camps were instead sent to Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State to act as porters, according to a Shan trader who had seen Rakhine prisoners from the Arakan prison performing portering duties for the SPDC. Relatives of the prisoners believed to have been sent to Shan State asked the prison authorities about their whereabouts but were told nothing. The one hundred prisoners continue to be ‘missing.’ Portering in conflict areas in Burma carries a high mortality rate, as porters are killed by SPDC troops or die of physical exhaustion and illness.

Thus, when prison guards began rounding up prisoners for ‘labor camps,’ the prisoners revolted. No specific details are available about the prison riot (source: Narinjara).

Toungoo Prison

Prison conditions in Toungoo Prison are deplorable, particularly in the realms of medical care and food and nutrition. Additionally, Toungoo Prison is frequently utilized as a recruitment and deployment center for porters used in the military’s campaign against rebel forces in Karen State.

Toungoo Prison Hospital has only one doctor, two inexperienced orderlies, and several prisoner staff. The orderlies and prisoner staff routinely take bribes from patients, often refusing them help if they are unable to provide a bribe. Prisoners suffering from colds, aches and pains due to forced hard labor, and diseases such as malaria or dysentery are regularly refused treatment at the prison hospital. Treatment, when provided, is often nothing more than the dispensing of improper medicines by a medically unknowledgeable staff. Meals provided in hospital are also sorely lacking, though prison guidelines state prisoners warded in hospital must be provided with milk, bread, meat or eggs, and sugar on a daily basis.

Regular prison life is worse. Prisoners in Toungoo Prison are fed rice with a thin chickpea gruel in the morning and boiled vegetable soup in the evening. Occasionally, meat sinew and viscera are also served. Prison clothing, bedding, and basic toiletries, once standard before 1999, are no longer issued.

Toungoo prisoners are regularly used as forced labor in a quarry four miles from prison and at Yebet Camp, a military airfield construction site. Toungoo Prison is also a deployment center for porters used in Karen State. On 10 January 2002, 300 prisoners from 10 prisons across Burma were gathered at Toungoo Prison and then sent to be used as military porters. Only 75 prisoners returned to Toungoo Prison, telling of hunger, burdensome loads, malaria and other diseases, lack of medical care, being used as human minesweepers, and outright killings by the SPDC and battle fatalities, resulting in 150 deaths, 50 maim victims, and 25 deserters. In August 2002, a total of 500 prisoners (50 from Toungoo Prison) were once again sent to the frontlines as porters.

The above information was taken from a written account of a Toungoo political prisoner arrested in October 1988 who remains incarcerated. The account was smuggled out of prison in 2003 (source: Nonviolence International Southeast Asia).

Myingan Prison

Myingan Prison in Mandalay Division is one of the most feared prisons in Burma. Living conditions are appalling. Food is dirty, substandard, and provided in inadequate portions. Myingan Prison is also considered among the worst in Burma in terms of medical services and treatment of prisoners. Disease is rampant in the prison, spread by unsanitary living conditions and poor nutrition. Torture of political prisoners is common and usually perpetrated by common criminal prisoners ordered to do so by prison authorities. Shackling of prisoners and other forms of punishment are common. Solitary confinement is regularly imposed on prisoners, often for several months at a time. Three prisoners are usually imprisoned together in cells measuring ten by twelve feet. A number of Myingan political prisoners have died as a result of severe torture, insufficient food, and lack of medical treatment. Some improvements have been instigated in Myingan Prison by ICRC visits, but these are usually short-lived and temporary. For more information on prison conditions in Myingan Prison, please see interview with a prisoner released from Myingan Prison in October 2002 at the end of this chapter (section 3.16: Personal Accounts).

Pegu Prison

In Pegu prison, located 80 km from Rangoon, prisoners have to work all day wrapping plastic labels around ‘Gyo-thein’ brand cheroots. They are each responsible for producing 3,500 cheroots per day, with elderly prisoners responsible for producing 2,500. When there is any mistake in the work, they are beaten by the prison authorities and made to sit in the hot sun. The only way that the prisoners can avoid this work is to bribe the authorities. Thus the prison authorities get money regularly from both prisoners and U Sint Han, the owner of the Gyo-thein cheroot factory (source: AAPP)

3.4 Political Prisoners in Poor Health

The following are accounts of prisoners who suffered health problems during their imprisonment in 2002. Please see Appendix 1, section 3.17 at the end of this chapter for a full list of political prisoners suffering health problems in Burma.

Professor’s Health Suffered in Prison

Dr. Salai Tun Than, a 74-year old Christian rector and retired agriculture professor, suffered from various health problems during his imprisonment in 2002. Dr. Salai Tun Than was arrested on 29 November 2001 while staging a one-man peaceful protest in front of Rangoon City Hall demanding political reform and renewed general multiparty elections. Dr. Salai Tun Than was subsequently detained in Insein Prison. On 8 February 2002, a special court held inside Insein Prison sentenced Dr. Salai Tun Than to seven years imprisonment under Article 5 (j) of the 1950 State Emergencies Act.

From 29 July 2002, the retired professor was held in Insein Prison Hospital where he was treated for eye problems. Prison doctors said he needed to be operated on, but no eye operation facilities existed in the prison. At the end of 2002, he received the operation. Dr. Salai Tun Than was released in May 2003.

Dr. Salai Tun Than, a Christian and a member of the Chin ethnic group, earned a Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin and had served as rector at the Yezin University of Agriculture in Pyinmana until 1990 (source: AAPP).

Aging Journalist Win Tin’s Health Deteriorates in Prison

Seventy-three-year-old Win Tin’s health further deteriorated while imprisoned in 2002. Win Tin is a prominent writer and journalist and a Central Executive Committee member of the NLD. In 2002, it was reported that Win Tin was suffering from benign prostatic hypertrophy, bleeding pile, and hemorrhoids. In June 2002, Win Tin, co-founder of the NLD, was sent to Rangoon General Hospital, where he was placed in a Guard Ward. Doctors at the hospital informed military authorities that Win Tin would need to be operated upon. However, the authorities refused to permit the operation.

During his imprisonment, U Win Tin has consistently suffered from poor health. Some of his pre-existing health conditions have been aggravated by the ill treatment he has received and the poor living conditions in the prison. U Win Tin suffers from a heart condition and spondylitis (inflammation of the vertebrae), a painful condition that requires a special diet. In 1992 it was reported that he needed surgery, but that the SPDC refused to transfer him to a hospital. In 1994, a US Congressman who was permitted to visit him in prison reported that Win Tin was in need of dental treatment and appeared to have problems with his vision. He was also wearing a neck brace that did not fit him properly and was causing him discomfort. During that time U Win Tin was being held in solitary confinement. In September 1997 he was admitted to Rangoon General Hospital due to heart problems.

Win Tin was arrested on 4 July 1989 as part of a widespread crackdown by the SPDC on political opposition groups. Win Tin received a twenty-year prison sentence. Currently U Win Tin is the only remaining senior member of the NLD, among those arrested in June and July 1989, who has not yet been released. In 1996, Win Tin received another seven-year sentence, following his participation in a report sent to the UN about human rights violations in Insein Prison (source: AAPP and AI).

U Thar Ban

U Thar Ban has been suffering from deteriorating eyesight and requires medical attention. U Thar Ban, 62, is a United Nationalities Democratic Party activist and former writer, currently detained in Insein Prison. He is serving a seven-year prison sentence. He was sentenced in 1998, with Ko Aung Htun, for the preparation and distribution of a history of the student political movement in Burma. U Thar Ban is serving his second prison sentence for his involvement in opposition activities (source: AI).

Ko Aung Htun,

Ko Aung Htun, 39, reportedly has growths on his feet requiring investigation, is unable to walk, and suffers from asthma. Ko Aung Htun was arrested in 1998 and is serving a 17-year prison sentence. He was arrested, with U Thar Ban, in connection with the distribution of articles and a history he wrote of the student movement after leaving prison. Ko Aung Htun is a former student activist and member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions. He is believed to have been badly tortured during interrogation. This is his second period of imprisonment for his political activities. He is detained in Tharawaddy Prison, Bago Division (source: AI).

Dr. Zaw Min

Dr. Zaw Min, a 42-year old medical doctor, has been suffering from psychological problems exacerbated by his treatment in detention, including being held for long periods of time in solitary confinement.

Dr. Zaw Min was arrested in 1989 and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. His prison term was extended in 2000 for up to six years on the order of the Minister for Home Affairs when the original term had expired. Dr. Zaw Min was released in November 2002, three years after his original release date. He continues to suffer from mental health problems received in prison. He was detained in Mandalay Prison, Mandalay Division (source: AI and AAPP).

Htway Myint

Htway Myint, Vice-Chairman of the Democracy Party, has been suffering from a serious heart condition and Parkinson’s disease. He is also unable to walk. On 27 July 2002, he was transferred to Rangoon General Hospital, where he was put in a Guard Ward. Several months later, on 9 September, Htway Myint was returned to Insein Prison, reportedly with no improvement to his health. Htway Myint completed a seven-year prison sentence on 3 July, but remains in custody. Military authorities extended Htway Myint’s sentence by six months citing State Protection Law Article 10 (a) (source: AAPP and DVB).

NLD MPs Suffering Health Problems in Prison:

Naing Naing

Naing Naing, an NLD Member of Parliament serving a prison sentence in Insein Prison, has been suffering from serious hernia complications. In October 2002, prison authorities denied Naing Naing’s request for medical treatment. Naing Naing, 60, is serving a 21-year prison sentence after being arrested in 2000 for involvement in opposition activities. This is Naing Naing’s second imprisonment by the SPDC.

After the 1988 uprising, Naing Naing became Chairperson of the Pazundaung Township NLD. In the 1990 elections, Naing Naing was elected Member of Parliament from the Pazundaung constituency. On 25 October 1990, Naing Naing was arrested and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. He served the next nine years in Insein (Rangoon) and Thayet (Magwe Division) Prisons. Upon his release in 1999, Naing Naing rejoined the NLD and soon became a leading member of the Supporting Committee to NLD Youth. Naing Naing was rearrested in 13 September 2000 under acts 5(j), 17(20), and 17(1) (source: AAPP).

Aye Tha Aung

Rakhine opposition politician Aye Tha Aung suffered from lung cancer while imprisoned in 2002. On 16 August 2002, bowing to pressure from rights groups, Aye Tha Aung was released from prison on "humanitarian grounds," said government spokesperson Colonel Hla Min. The BBC reported that Aye Tha Aung was operated upon at Rangoon General Hospital on 19 August 2002, days after his release.

Dr. Aye Tha Aung is a member of a number of pro-democracy organizations and is Secretary of the Committee Representing the Peoples Parliament (CRPP). Aye Tha Aung was arrested in April 2000 and given a 21-year prison sentence for his role with the CRPP. From April 2000 until his release, he was detained in Myingyang Prison, Mandalay Division (source: AAPP, AI, and BBC).

Do Htaung

Do Thaung, an ethnic Chin, is a NLD representative for Kale Township constituency. While imprisoned in Mandalay Prison, he suffered from hypertension, coronary arteriosclerosis, and a hearing impairment. U Ohn Myint, vice chairman of NLD Humanitarian Assistance Committee, reported Do Htaung as "in severe health condition." Do Htaung was arrested in May 1996 and sentenced for long-term imprisonment. Do Htaung was released in May 2003. (source: DVB).

Dr. Than Nyein

Dr. Thain Nyein, a 65-year old MP, has been suffering from heart disease, hypertension, and cirrhosis of the liver. After a four-year wait, Dr. Than Nyein was sent to Rangoon General Hospital on 7 April 2002. He was operated upon immediately. Doctors later informed Than Nyein’s family that he was suffering from gastroenteritis.

Dr. Than Nyein is a medical doctor and NLD MP from Kyauktan Township, Rangoon Division. He is serving a six-year sentence following an arrest in October 1997. Dr. Than Nyein was arrested after coordinating a meeting between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD party leaders, and the NLD Youth in MaRangoone Township, Rangoon. A few months prior to his arrest, SPDC authorities accused Dr. Than Nyein of opening a clinic without permission and revoked his medical license. This is the second time the doctor has been detained by the SPDC (source: AI and DVB).

U Tin Ngwe U Tin Ngwe, a Member of Parliament from Kale Township, has been suffering from hypertension.

U Soe Aung U Soe Aung, MP from Mandalay, has been suffering from tuberculosis.

Dr. Myint Naing Ko Myint Naing, MP from Pegu, has been suffering from a hearing impairment.

Tin Aye Rangoon MP Ko Tin Aye has been suffering from arthritis.

MPs Suffering from Depression:

Members of Parliament Ko Win Naing (Kale), Ko Tin Myint (Mandalay), Ko Naing Myint (Rangoon), U Soe Thein, and Ko Soe Min Naing all have been suffering from depression (source: DVB).

3.5 Death in Custody

As of November 2002, at least 82 political prisoners have died during their imprisonment since the 1988 crackdown, according to prisoner rights advocacy group AAPP. In 2002, five political prisoner deaths were confirmed, several under disputed circumstances. In addition, 15 political prisoners were reported missing and feared dead.

Palaung leader Mai Aik Pan

Mai Aik Pan, aka Ko Mya Maung, died in late July 2002 under unknown circumstances while serving a seven-year prison sentence in Moulmein Prison. Mai Aik Pan, a leader of the Palaung State Liberation Organization, was 40 years old.

Mai Aik Pan was arrested in October 2001 in Myawaddy opposite Mae Sot, Thailand on charges of unlawful association, Article 17 (1), often used by the SPDC to detain those suspected of having links with insurgent groups or banned political groups.

Prison officials at Moulmein Prison said Mai Aik Pan died from dropsy, a relatively easy infection to cure with basic medicines. In June, Mai Aik Pan was reported to be in healthy condition, leaving many to question the Palaung leader’s demise (source: Irrawaddy and AAPP).

Aung May Thu

Political prisoner Aung May Thu died, aged 62, at Rangoon General Hospital on 17 September 2002. Aung May Thu was chairman for Min Hla NLD, Pegu Division. He was arrested 6 November 1989 and given a ten-year prison sentence. Aung May Thu completed his sentence in 1999, but was kept in custody under Article 10(A).

On 16 September 2002, Aung May Thu was transferred from Tharyawaddy prison to Rangoon General Hospital. He died of perforation of the colon following an operation on September 17, said sources. In a government-issued statement, the SPDC said Aung May Thu had suffered from peritonitis and died after an eight-hour operation to treat the ailment. Aung May Thu’s family, who reportedly visited him the day before he died, said they had found him in good spirits and not suffering from any illness.

Aung May Thu had been arrested and imprisoned several times, including detainment at the notorious Coco Islands during the 1960s reign of the Burma Socialist Party Programme (source: DVB and AAPP).

U Sai Pha

U Sai Pha, Vice-Chairperson of the National League for Democracy of Shan State and a Central Committee member, died at Keng Tung Prison in Shan State on 9 October 2002. U Sai Pha, 61, died under disputed circumstances; opposition sources indicated that he might not have received adequate medical treatment. The SPDC stated that the Shan ethnic leader died of cerebral malaria.

U Sai Pha was arrested on 13 September 2002, only one month prior to his death, under section 5 (j) of the State Protection Law. He had been organizing local NLD activities in Shan State. Military authorities also accused U Sai Pha of instigating farmers to refuse to pay a rice tax to the government (source: AI and AAPP).

U Maung Ko

U Maung Ko died of a heart attack in Tharawaddy Prison on 15 November 2002. U Maung Ko, in his 50s when he died, was reportedly not offered any medical care. The political activist was arrested in 1996 in his native Kyauk Padaung Township, Mandalay Division. He had been accused of being a communist sympathizer by SPDC authorities and was charged and sentenced under section 5 (j) of the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act. U Maung Ko was reportedly tortured for two weeks following his arrest. In May 1997, he was moved to Tharawaddy Prison from an unknown location. U Maung Ko was to be released in December 2002, a month after his death, the second political prisoner death in Tharawaddy Prison in 2002 (source: AAPP).

Ko Win Than

Political prisoner and opposition activist Ko Win Than died, aged 33, on 9 August 2002 in Toungoo Prison Hospital after serving fourteen years in prison. The cause of death is reported to be negligence by prison authorities.

Ko Win Than was arrested in September 1988 and detained in Insein Prison after taking part in the Four Eights Uprising in Dallah, Rangoon Division. On 10 October 1989, Ko Win Than was sentenced to death under section 30 (j) by a military court. Awaiting his sentence in Insein Prison, Ko Win Than continued his opposition to the military junta by calling for immediate transfer of state power to the newly formed NLD and the release of all political prisoners. In January 1993, by SLORC declaration, Ko Win Than’s sentence was commuted from a death sentence to 20 years imprisonment. He was then transferred to Toungoo Prison, Pegu Division, where he was no longer able to receive family visits.

On 6 August 2002, Ko Win Than was admitted to Taungoo Prison Hospital suffering from dizziness, vomiting, loss of appetite and jaundice. The doctor in charge instructed medical orderlies to give Ko Win Than an intravenous CQ drip. He then became dizzy and went into a coma, though no medical personnel came to examine him. The following day Ko Win Than regained consciousness, his blood pressure at 115/45. The doctor instructed the treatment to be continued and Ko Win Than once again lapsed into a coma. Fellow prisoners alerted the authorities, but Ko Win Than went unattended. Later that day, at 4:45 pm, Ko Win Than died. Prison authorities prepared to transport his body in a polyethylene bag, but prisoners protested to prison head Thein Zaw, demanding the dead be interred in a coffin. The prison authorities eventually complied, though a week later they demanded payment in excess of 4,000 kyat from the prisoners who had requested a coffin for Ko Win Than. The above account is from a prisoner’s testimony smuggled out of Toungoo Prison (source: Nonviolence International Southeast Asia).

Presumed Dead: 15 Political Prisoners "Disappear" in 2002

An unsettling trend of political prisoner disappearances marred 2002. Fifteen political prisoners are feared dead after they "disappeared" from prison while serving sentences related to opposition activities. The fifteen "disappeared" were all detained in prisons in Tenasserim Division, southern Burma, where monitoring of conditions and prisoners by international NGOs is difficult and restricted. The following three incidents were reported by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an activist group based in Thailand. AAPP has received information on nearly one hundred unconfirmed cases of political prisoner disappearances.

Seven Feared Executed

On March 25, 2002, seven political prisoners, all members of the opposition group Myeik-Dawei United Front (MDUF), were removed from Mergui Prison in Tenasserim Division, southern Burma, and taken to an undisclosed location on Done Kyun Island in Kyun Su Township. The whereabouts and condition of the seven prisoners is unknown. However, AAPP received unconfirmed reports that the seven were executed on arrival at the ominously nicknamed ‘Done Island.’

The seven prisoners were all arrested in November 1992, along with two others later released in April 2001. Nine members of the Thai-Burma border group Myeik-Dawei United Front were arrested attempting to enter southern Burma to collect information and organize opposition efforts among local residents. The nine were arrested in Bokepyin Township, Tenasserim Division by Burma Army Light Infantry Division (LID) 432. Following their arrest, the prisoners were interrogated and tortured at LID military base 432. Subsequently, the detainees were imprisoned in Mergui Prison, where they were subjected to further torture and mistreatment. In the eight years that followed, the nine prisoners were never formally charged with a crime or placed on trial, nor were they given access to their families or representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The seven prisoners assumed killed in March 2002 are: Ko Khin Maung Cho, Ko Shwe Baw, Ko Tin San, Ko Naing Oo (alias Aung Naing), Ko Kyaw Naing (alias Kyaw Lwin), Ko Than Zaw, and Onh Lwin (source: AAPP).

Two Disappear from Kawthaung Prison

In February 2002, seven members of the Thayetchaung branch of the National League for Democracy were arrested for engaging in opposition activities. The arrests took place in Ngapyaw Or Village on Zadadkyi Island Navy base, Tenasserim Division. The seven NLD members were reportedly subject to severe torture before being detained in Kawthaung Prison.

In early July 2002, two of the seven detainees, NLD member Cho Lwin (female, alias Ma Lwin) and Kyaw Aye were removed from Kawthaung Prison and taken to Ngapgyaw Or Village by soldiers from LIF 262 and LIF 267, led by Captain Tin Maung Win, where they were killed by the military, according to unconfirmed reports (source: AAPP).

Four Deportees among the Disappeared

On September 17, 2002, four political prisoners detained in Kawthaung Prison were brought to Makyonkalit Village, Lam Pake Island, Tenasserim Division, where it is believed they were killed, according to information obtained by AAPP.

Sergeant Thein Myint, commander of Light Infantry Divisions 224 and 262, reportedly escorted the four prisoners to Lam Pake Island.

Three of the missing prisoners, Tin Tun, Kyaw Lwin and Maung Swe (alias Bike Pu), were arrested in February 2002 in Thailand by Thai police while traveling by boat to Ranong, a western coast port city near the Burma border. After their arrest, Thai authorities deported them back to Burma, where they were immediately detained by Light Infantry Division 262 of the Burmese army. The three, all members of political opposition groups, were arrested and imprisoned in Kawthaung Prison.

Kyaw Naing Soe, also among the missing, was arrested with San Lwin by Thai police in a similar incident in early 2002. The two opposition group members were initially detained for six days in a police detention center in Ranong. Thai authorities then directly handed the two men over to Sergeant Tin Saw of Light Infantry Division 262. Both men were imprisoned in Kawthaung Prison. San Lwin (alias San Naing) was later transferred to Insein Prison, Rangoon Division.

No contact, including by family members, has been made with the four missing political prisoners since they disappeared from Kawthaung Prison in September 2002.

The deportation of Burmese activists working along the Thai-Burma border is in accordance with a new Thai government policy of no longer tolerating opposition activities that have long operated in a "grey zone" of unofficial freedom along the border (source: AAPP and South China Morning Post).

3.6 Prolonged Detention

Since 1998, authorities in Burma have extended prisoners’ detentions under Article 10 (a) of the 1975 State Protection Act, which allows prisoners terms to be extended by one-year intervals for up to five years by order of the Ministry of Home Affairs. State Protection Law 10 (a) also allows officials to detain a person for up to three years without trial for "security reasons."

In prisons around Burma, the authorities have re-arrested and extended the detention of more than 45 political prisoners who did nothing to violate this article. When their prison terms were finished many of these prisoners were taken to the prison gates as if to be released, and then told that they were being detained again. They were temporally denied family visiting rights under Article 10 (a) and many have suffered from mental illness after experiencing systematic psychological torture.

In 2002, a significant number of political prisoners released by the SPDC had already completed their prison terms and were being detained under extensions of their original sentences. As of the end of 2002, at least 26 political prisoners remained imprisoned after having completed their sentences.

Student Leader Min Ko Naing ‘s Sentence Increased

Student democracy leader Min Ko Naing had his prison sentence extended in January 2002. Already imprisoned for 13 years, Min Ko Naing’s sentence was increased by one year under State Protection Law 10 (a). According to the SPDC’s State Protection Law 10 (a), any prisoner’s term can be extended by one-year intervals for up to five years by order of the Ministry of Home Affairs. This was the third extension of the student leader’s sentence since he completed his original 10-year prison sentence in 1999.

Min Ko Naing, alias Paw U Tun, Chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), was arrested on March 24, 1989. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment (later commuted to 10 years under a general amnesty) for opposition activities. He was initially detained in solitary confinement in Insein Prison in Rangoon but has been regularly moved from one prison to another. In June 2001, he was reportedly moved from Sittwe Prison to Bu Thi Taung Prison, both in Arakan state and near the Bangladesh border. This move has made it harder for international organizations to monitor his condition.

According to Amnesty International, Min Ko Naing was reportedly severely tortured and ill treated during the early stages of his detention and his health has suffered as a consequence. In 1993, a United States Congressman visited him in Insein Prison and said that he was in poor health and appeared disoriented. In November 1994 the Special Rapporteur on Burma was also allowed to visit him briefly in Insein Prison, and described him as being nervous and thin. On October 25, 2001, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), declared that the SPDC’s detention of Min Ko Naing is contrary to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and they have directed the regime to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation. To date the regime has ignored the ruling (source: Mizzima and the Irrawaddy).

Political Prisoners Who Have Completed Their Sentences But Remain Imprisoned as of the End of 2002:

Name                                                         Prison

1. Aung Than                                           Bassein Prison

2. Bala Gyi (aka Than Htut)                     Taungoo Prison

3. Bo Bo Han                                         Thayet Prison

4. Htwe Aung                                         Insein Prison

5. Htay Kywe                                         Thayawaddy Prison

7. Khin Maung Ye (aka Tin Aye)             Mandalay Prison

8. Ko Ko Gyi                                         Thayet Prison

9. Kyaw Mya                                         Myaungmya Prison

10. Min Ko Naing (aka Paw Oo Ton)     Sittwe Prison

11. Myat San                                         Taungoo Prison

12. Naing Myint (aka Myint Soe)            Mandalay Prison

14. Soe Myint                                         Mandalay Prison

15. Than Swe                                         Insein Prison

16. Thet Khaine (aka Ko Latt)               Insein Prison

17. Thet Tun (aka Tin Htut)                    Myingyan Prison

18. Tin Aung                                         Kale Prison

19. Tin Aye Kyu (aka Hming Lwin)        Mandalay Prison

20. Tin Htay                                           Mandalay Prison

21. Tin Myint                                          Mandalay Prison

22. Tin Tun                                             Insein Prison

23. Ye Nyunt                                         Mandalay Prison

24. Zaw Min                                         Thayet Prison

25. Zay Ya                                             Insein Prison

3.7 Release of Political Prisoners

The release of all political prisoners is one of the criterion by which the seriousness of the process of political transition and national reconciliation will be measured. At the current rate of an average of 27 releases per month, it will take about four years to release the remaining prisoners.

Paolo Pinheiro, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, (annual report to the UN, 27 December 2002)

In 2002, the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners Burma (AAPPB) estimated that approximately 300 political prisoners were released from prison. These releases, coupled with the release from house arrest of NLD General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi on 6 May, were seen by many as signs of major progress by the SPDC towards reconciliation in the country. However, over 1,300 political prisoners remained in jail by the end of 2002. Moreover, the vast majority of prisoner "releases" were conditional suspensions of sentences, not true releases. Prisoners released before their full sentences are served must sign under section 401 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code for the suspension of their sentence to the extant that they agree to not engage in political activities. If arrested again or found to be participating in politics, these "released" prisoners automatically resume their sentences. In 1990, NLD MPs Khin Maung Swe and U Sein Hla Oo were arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison. Two years later, the two were released after signing under section 401 (a). In 1994, the two were once again arrested for their involvement in opposition activities and given seven-year jail terms each. The two MPs completed these sentences in 2001. However, they continued to be detained by the SPDC, serving out the completion of their original 1990 sentences that were renewed when the two were found to have broken section 401 (a).

In addition, many of those released in 2002 had already completed their original sentences, some being detained under article 10 (a), which allows for the extension of prison terms. On 11 November 2002, the SPDC claimed to release 115 political prisoners to much fanfare from the international community. However, many of those released are now suspected of not being political prisoners. AAPP estimates that only 70 of those released on 11 November were political prisoners. Overall, prisoner releases remain a highly contentious political issue.

3.8 Political Prisoners — a few profiles

Name: Khin Khin Lei Alias Rose

Occupation: Elementary School Teacher

Date of Birth: 1965

Address: Pegu Township

Law Violation: Emergency Provision Act 5(j), Unlawful Organization Act 17(1)

Sentence: Life Imprisonment

Current Location: unknown

In 1995, Khin Khin Lei married 1988 student activist Kyaw Wanna who had already served a four year prison term. Kyaw Wanna was heavily involved in the pro-democracy movement in Burma, Khin Khin Lei only an elementary school teacher in a village near Pegu. In 1999, she transferred to another school in the same district.

On 19 July 1999, Kyaw Wanna was involved in a peaceful Martyrs’ Day protest march. A few days later, Military Intelligence came to arrest him for his participation in the march. However, Kyaw Wanna had already fled to the Thai-Burma border. Military Intelligence took both Khin Khin Lei and her three-year-old daughter Thaint Wanna Khin into custody for further interrogation, as they wanted information concerning her husband’s activities. Burma had detained the world’s youngest prisoner of conscience.

Five days later, MI released Khin Khin Lei’s daughter but continued to hold Khin Khin Lei, torturing her to find out the whereabouts of her husband. On 3 December 1999, at a special court in Insein Prison, Khin Khin Lei was charged under the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act and the 1908 Unlawful Associations Act and sentenced to life imprisonment. The following month, January 2000, she was transferred to an unknown location. She has been suffering from lung problems, though it is not known whether she has received medical treatment. Her husband, Kyaw Wanna, remains in exile.

 

Name: Soe Tun

Occupation: Student

Address: Hle-dan, Kamaryut Township

Law Violation: Emergency Provision Act 5 (j)

Sentence: 7 Years

Current Location: Thayawaddy Prison

Soe Tun was a student at the Rangoon Institute of Technology when the 1996 student demonstrations erupted in Burma. An electrical engineering student and an executive member of a Buddhist religious organization, Soe Tun was popular among students on campus.

In October 1996, together with his fellow students, Soe Tun participated in protests against the junta’s barbarous police treatment of students. These protests evolved into more extensive students’ demonstrations in December and he became one of the prominent leaders. More than two thousand students were arrested during the 1996 demonstrations. Soe Tun had been arrested but was released from an interrogation center after students had called for his release in a strike.

After the junta closed all the universities in Burma, Soe Tun and student colleagues established a private library club with the purpose to promote the education of students motivated to learn independently. The club was forced to work under the strict surveillance of Military Intelligence and Soe Tun was detained for interrogations several times.

When a fellow student, Ma (Miss) Aung Mi Khine, died in a car accident and authorities refused to prosecute the driver, a member of the junta-allied Wa organization, the club demanded the government publicly reveal the truth about the death. Military Intelligence subsequently arrested Soe Tun and seven other students on 27 August 1997. On 10 October 1997, the junta sentenced him to seven years imprisonment with hard labor in Tharyawaddy Prison, under Article 5 (j) of the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act.

Soe Tun received head injuries during his arrest and has developed a skin disease while in prison.

 

Name: Thet Win Aung

Alias: Moe Naing

Occupation: Student

Address: Tamwe Township, Rangoon Division

Date of Birth: 27 August 1971

Section: Emergency Provision Act 5(J)

Sentence: 59 Years

Current Location: Khamtee Prison

In 1988, Thet Win Aung was a high school student at Tamwe Township, Rangoon Division. He took part in the 1988 nationwide pro-democracy movement as one of the leading members of his high school student union. In May 1989, Thet Win Aung attended a secretly held nationwide conference for high school students and was elected Vice-General Secretary of the Basic Education Student Union (BESU).

In 1991, Thet Win Aung was dismissed from his school for his involvement in student demonstrations. He was detained and jailed for nine months for helping to organize student unions. Upon his release, he was chosen to be one of the leading members of the (secretly organized) All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU).

In July 1994, Military Intelligence attempted to arrest him for publishing ABFSU pamphlets and organizing student demonstrations to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the July 7th 1962 bombing of the student union building at Rangoon University which killed hundreds of students. Thet Win Aung was able to escape and survived hiding in basements, attics, and Buddhist monasteries for the next two years. While he was in hiding, his home was searched frequently his family harassed incessantly.

Thet Win Aung again took part in student demonstrations in December 1996 and, in 1998, helped to organize student protests to bring attention to the poor quality of education in Burma and students’ rights.

Thet Win Aung was finally arrested in October 1998. In January 1999, he was sentenced to 52 years imprisonment, which was increased to 59 years after further interrogation. He was detained in Kalay Prison, Sagaing Division. In October 2002, following his participation in a hunger strike, Thet Win Aung was transferred to Khamtee Prison in remote northern Burma (source: AAPP and DVB).

3.9 Ethnic Minority Political Prisoners

In Burma a large number of people who are victims of politically motivated detentions remain unrecognized by the international community as political prisoners. Ethnic minority villagers living in conflict zones are routinely accused of having contact with opposition groups, and are arrested, tortured and killed by the SPDC. In August 2003 Altsean-Burma and Burma Issues released a report, Uncounted: Burma’s Political Prisoners in the Conflict Zones. The report argues that ethnic minority villagers arrested on political charges should be recognized and counted as political prisoners. The authors state that: "People in Burma’s conflict zones are especially vulnerable to accusations and detentions that fall outside legal jurisdictions. This is due in part to the militarisation of the conflict zones that allows the Burmese military to act under its’ own legal authority. It is also due to the isolation of Burma’s ethnic areas from international scrutiny and independent monitoring."

The report documents 45 arrests of villagers that conform to the UN definitions of political detentions. The people arrested were accused of offering food and accommodation to opposition forces; having knowledge of troop movements; and/or belonging to or having family members which belong to these groups. Of those cases included in the report, 91% of those arrested were detained arbitrarily. In none of the arrests were any legal or judicial procedures used, and the accused did not receive a fair trial. This is consistent with the SPDC’s policy of placing these areas under military administration, leaving the tatmawdaw in charge of all judicial and police activities. Of the 45 arrests, 51% of those detained were tortured, and 22% were victims of extra-judicial killing. The report finds that arbitrary arrests and ensuing violence are part of the SPDC’s general campaign to terrorize ethnic minority members in order to weaken ethnic opposition groups.

Sample Incidents of Politically Motivated Detention of Ethnic Minority Villagers

(For more information see section on arbitrary arrests of villagers)

Karen State

On August 3, 2002, troops from IB 280 detained Saw Tu Prut, a village headman, and Reverend Si Bwat from Ler Pah Doh village, Thayetchaung Township, Mergui-Tavoy District, Karen State. The two men were accused them of collaborating with Karen resistance groups. The men were detained at IB 280’s military camp under orders from the base commander. (Source: KIC)

Shan State

On 27 March 2002 a patrol of SPDC troops from Keng Tung arrived at Phaa Sawnt village, Shan State. In the past, the residents of this village had been forced to live in a relocation site, however, one year ago they had been given permission by the SPDC to move back to their village. When the soldiers met with the villagers they demanded to know who had given them permission to move back to their village, and then accused them of harboring Shan rebels. The soldiers then interrogated the village headman, Lung Haeng Zit-Ta, demanding to know where the Shan rebels were. When the headman said that he had not seen any Shan rebels, the SPDC troops accused the headman himself of being a rebel, and ordered him to hand over his pistol and walkie-talkie. When the headman said that he did not have any pistol or walkie-talkie the soldiers proceeded to beat his head and body with a stick until he was soaked in blood and lost consciousness.

The troops then ordered one of the logging trucks to take him to their base in Keng Tung area, where he was locked him up for 10 days. When villagers from Phaa Sawnt and other community leaders went to the army base to ask about Lung Haeng Zit-Ta, the soldiers told the villagers that they were holding the headman, but not to worry because they would not harm him further. Some time later, the SPDC sent the headman to lower Burma for one month with a logging company. Villagers believe that they did this so the headman would not be able to report these abuses to other authorities. When Lung Haeng Zit-Ta returned to the village, residents reported that he looked and acted strangely, and believe that the beatings and mistreatment he received caused some brain injury (source: SHRF).

On 16 April 2002, thirty troops from Column 3 of IB 225, led by commander Lun Maung, arrested Saw Nyunt in Mae Ken village, Murng-Ton Township. Saw Nyunt was bound, beaten, and dragged from his home and taken to a military camp where he was detained in a lockup. Later, he was accused of providing rice to the Shan State Army (SSA) and tortured. SPDC soldiers beat him and covered his face with plastic bags asphyxiating him until he lost consciousness. This torture was repeated several times.

Two days later, on 18 April 2002, 35 SPDC soldiers, led by commander Kyaw Win, returned to Mae Ken village and searched Saw Nyunt’s house. Troops claimed to discover 30 methamphetamine tablets and accused Saw Nyunt of dealing drugs. On the same day, after searching Saw Nyunt’s house, soldiers arrested widow Naang Khawng, accusing her of being married to a SSA soldier. The soldiers also took 57, 000 kyat and some gold ornaments from the mother of three. She was taken to Murng-Ton and detained. The condition and whereabouts of Saw Nyunt and Naang Khawng remain unknown (source: SHRF).

On 6 July 2002, Pu Haeng Taeng Haan, the headman of Me Ken village tract in Murng-Ton Township was summoned by troops of IB 65, led by Captain Han Sein of Company No.1, to their military base. When they arrived at the military base, a corporal and some troops arrested Pu Haeng Taeng Haan. The troops then tied him up and interrogated him, forcing him to tell them how many SSA (Shan State Army) soldiers were in his area, who their leaders were and who provided them with food. During the interrogations, soldiers beat and tortured the headman. Unable to provide his interrogators with information, Pu Haeng Taeng Haan was beaten until his face was swollen and his skull was fractured. He was detained until 27 July 2002, when he was released only after a leader of the Lahu people’s militia in the area guaranteed his innocence (source: SHRF).

On 4 August 2002, approximately forty troops from LIB 520, led by Captain San Win, arrested seven villagers returning from weeding a rice farm in Naa Ing, Murng-Pan Township. Soldiers accused the seven of providing food for the SSA and took them to LIB 520’s army base. Community leaders from Naa Ing guaranteed the villagers’ innocence, but the seven were released only after paying 10,000 kyat each to the authorities (source: SHRF).

Mon State

On 28 January 2002, after an armed conflict between the Burmese Army and a Mon splinter group, the Monland Restoration Army (MRA), LIB 550 arrested and then disrobed Nai Galae, a 45-year old Buddhist Mon monk, in Kyon-kwee village, Three Pagoda Pass Township, fifteen miles from the Thai border. The monk was arrested under suspicion of being a Mon rebel fighter. After his arrest, Nai Galae was tortured for an hour, soldiers beating him and dunking his head under water. His whereabouts and condition are unknown.

Prior to this incident, LIB 550 also arrested two village headmen near the Three Pagodas Pass Town. The men, Nai Tun, chairman of Kyaw-palu village, and villager Nai Tin Hlaing, were accused of supporting MRA troops in their attacks against the Burmese Army. The MRA, a Mon splinter group, have been launching offensives against the Burmese Army in the Three Pagoda Pass Township since late 2001 (source: HURFOM).

On 29 December 2002, soldiers from IB 61, led by Major Tin Aung Khaing, tortured and arrested two Mon village headmen from The-Khone village in southern Ye Township. Nai Kyaw and Nai Ong Myint were arrested in Ywa-thit village on their way to Ye Town on suspicion of being Mon soldiers.

Acting on information that a Mon rebel group led by guerilla leader Nai Bin had been in Ywa-thit village, soldiers from IB 61 arrived in Ywa-thit village and arrested Nai Ong Myint, who was wearing army trousers, and headman Nai Kyaw. Despite their pleas of innocence and the fact that they were from The-Khone village, the men were blindfolded and taken to the infantry battalion’s detention center in Ye Town. There, soldiers tortured the men, severely beating them, for information about Mon rebel activity in the area.

Later, the two villagers’ families arrived at the detention center to explain that they were not rebel soldiers and to discuss their release. They found the men seriously injured. Major Tin Aung Khaing agreed to their release at the cost of 500,000 kyat each. Several days later, after the 1 million kyat had been collected and paid, the men were released and taken to Ye Town Hospital (source: HURFOM).

Karenni State

On 17 August 2002, a unit of Burmese troops from LIB 302 arrested Shadaw relocation camp resident, Wei Reh, 28, accusing him of violating Act 17/1 (contact with rebels). His release date is unknown. (Source: KNAHR)

Ethnic Minority Political Activists and MP-elects

Currently there are many ethnic minority prisoners being held in Burmese prisons and detention centers because of their involvement in the democracy and human rights movements. Some members of ethnic minority groups took part in the 1990 general election sponsored by the military authorities. Eight years after the elections, when the military authorities still refused to accept the results, some of the ethnic political parties, together with National League for Democracy, founded the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP). However, the authorities responded harshly, and gave long prison sentences to all of those who participated in non-violent political activities such as the CRPP. Aye Tha Aung, an Arakanese activist and secretary of CRPP, was given 21 years in prison for meeting with ethnic minority groups to discuss plans for the future and cooperation between these activists and military regime. He was released on 19 August 2002.

Some of the jailed ethnic minority activists are currently very old. ALD and ZNC are founding parties of the CRPP. Although the authorities said that these individuals were put in government guesthouses, they are in fact currently in the Ye Mon military camp, a place with very harsh living conditions, including poisonous reptiles and insects.

Name: Do Htaung

Sex: Male

Prison: Kalay

Ethnicity: Chin

Do Htaung, NLD MP-elect, was held detention in Kalay Prison. MI personnel arrested him at midnight on May 21, 1996 while he was preparing to attend the sixth anniversary of the founding of the NLD at Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence. After he was released on May 27, 1996, he was arrested again by the MI and was tortured the entire night. His sons, Dr Rodain and Dr Lawn Thaung fled from Burma after the MI attempted to arrest them as well. Some 19 other NLD members, including Ba Min, Tin Cho and Wing Naing were arrested and charged along with Do Htaung under Articles 5(j) of the 1950 Emergency Provision Act. He was released on 3 June 2003.

Do Htaung, 61, is the son of Hlanon and Htanman, and was born in Bo Kyone Village, Falam Township, Chin State. He passed Medic Training in 1962 with the highest marks in the country and from 1963-1989 he worked as a Medic in Tatalan, Kanpalat, Kale, Molite and Homalin Townships. In 1971, he was detained in Myingyan Prison for two years. He participated in the 1988 democracy uprising and became a local NLD leader. In the 1990 elections, he was elected to represent Kale Constituency (1), Sagaing Division.

Name: Min Soe Lin, Dr

Sex: Male

Prison: Moulmien Prison

Ethnicity: Mon

The authorities first arrested Dr. Min Soe Lin in Mudon, Mon State, on November 6, 1997. He was charged under Article 5 (j) of the 1950 Emergency Provision Act and was released from detention a few weeks. The reason for his arrest was his role in organizing celebrations for the 50th Mon National Day on 23 February 1997. He joined the Mon National Democratic Front (MNDF) when it was formed after the 1988 uprising and was the General Secretary of the party. In 1990 elections, he was elected from Ye Constituency (1), Mon State. For his activities in MNDF, he was sentenced to 7-year imprisonment in 1998 (source: AAPP).

3.10 Partial List of Politicians, Including NLD MP-elects and NLD Members Who Remain Incarcerated in 2002*

No

Name

States/division

Constituency

Party

1

U Saw Ooreh

Kayah

Hpru-so Township

NLD

2

U Kyaw San

Sagaing

Tanze Township

NLD

3

U Doe Htaung

Sagaing

Kalay Township (1)

NLD

4

Dr. Myint Naing

Sagaing

Kantbulu (2)

NLD

5

U Toe Po

Tenasserim

Yebyu Township

NLD

6

U Ohn Maung

Pegu

Nyaung Lay Bin Township (1)

NLD

7

Dr. Zaw Myint Maung

Mandalay

Amarapura Township

NLD

8

U Ohn Kyaing

Mandalay

Southeast Township

NLD

9

U Soe Myint

Magwe

Minbu Township (1)

NLD

10

U Kyaw Khin

Shan

Taunggyi Township (1)

NLD

11

U Khin Maung Swe

Rangoon

Sanchaung Township

NLD

12

U Sein Hla Oo

Rangoon

Insein Township (2)

NLD

13

Dr. Than Nyein

Rangoon

Kyauktan Township

NLD

14

Dr. May Win Myint

Rangoon

MaRangoon Township (2)

NLD

15

U Naing Naing

Rangoon

Pazundaung Township

NLD

16

U Yaw Hsi

Kachin

Putao

NLD

17

Khun Myint Htun

Mon

Thaton Township

NLD

18

Dr. Min Soe Lin

Mon

Ye (1)

MNDF

19

Dr.Min Kyi Win

Mon

Mudon

MNDF

* Source: NCGUB

3.11 Partial List of Activists and Opposition Forces Arrested in 2002

An estimated 70 to 100 political activists and SPDC opposition forces were arbitrarily arrested and detained in 2002, according to political prisoner advocacy group AAPP. However, information about the majority of arrests is minimal and difficult to obtain. The following accounts of arrests and detentions in 2002 are all from confirmed reports and/or reliable sources.

Arrested for Providing Information to Foreign Media

On 12 February 2002, Ko Tin Saw, a Burmese man returning from Ranong, Thailand, was arrested by SPDC authorities on charges of providing information to foreign radio stations. The arrest took place at Bayintnaung market in Kawthaung, Burma. Ko Tin Saw, alias Tharkan, was caught with a mobile phone and a copy of opposition newspaper Khit Pyaing, published in Thailand. Following the arrest, Ko Tin Saw was interrogated and tortured at Military Intelligence Base No. 3 in Kawthaung. It is reported that in a confession, he revealed the identities of five other Burmese providing information to the media in Thailand.

In January 2002, Kawthaung Border Committee sought the assistance of Ranong Border Committee (Thailand) in the arrest and deportation of opposition forces working in Thailand (source: DVB and RSF).

Youths Arrested for Possession of Opposition Publications

Aung Thein and Kyaw Naing Oo, both NLD Youth members, were arrested in July 2002 for possessing opposition publications, including copies of Khit Pyaing (New Era) published in Thailand. The two youths were reportedly severely beaten during interrogation. They were sentenced in September 2002 to seven years’ imprisonment (source: RSF and AI).

Students Arrested for Rangoon City Hall Protest

Law student Thet Naung Soe was arrested on 18 August 2002, after staging a peaceful protest in front of Rangoon City Hall calling for the release of political prisoners and resumption of negotiations between the NLD and SPDC. Minutes after the protest began, City Hall security personnel arrested the law student and detained him inside the government building. Khin Maung Win, a second-year law student, and Thoung Htite, a fourth-year student at Rangoon Technology University (YTU), were arrested at the same time. It is not clear whether the latter two had joined the protest or were onlookers. Thet Naung Soe was subsequently given a 14-year prison sentence. Khin Maung Win received a 7-year sentence.

On August 17, five other students were arrested at their homes by Military Intelligence: Thaw Thaw Myo Han, a fourth-year YTU student, Nyunt Win, a third-year YTU student, Htoo Kyaw Win, a third-year architecture student at YTU, Kyaw Swa, a fourth-year YTU student, and Kyaw Zin Oo, also a fourth-year YTU student. They were later released. It is believed they were arrested for their involvement in the City Hall protest (source: DVB and AI).

Ill Shan Politician Sentenced to Seven Years

On 13 September 2002, U Saw Nan Di, 67, was arrested with U Sai Pha, Vice-Chairperson of the Shan State NLD, under section 5 (j) for their active participation in opposition activities. U Saw Nan Di, chairman of the organizing committee of the NLD in Shan State, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on 22 October 2002, only two weeks after fellow detainee U Sai Pha died while in custody in Keng Tung Prison (see "Death in Custody" section above). U Saw Nan Di was also given a six-month sentence under section 33 of the Drug Special Act in Keng Tung, Shan State, according to sources.

Prior to being sentenced in court, U Saw Nan Di had been sent from Keng Tung Prison to a local hospital suffering from dizziness. Doctors diagnosed the Shan politician with liver and kidney diseases (source: Irrawaddy).

Arrested for Possession of Media Contraband

Between September 25 and October 2, 2002, about thirty activists, almost all former political prisoners, were arrested and interrogated by intelligence services for possessing opposition publications, notably Khit Pyaing (New Era), a newspaper published in exile in Thailand. Irrawaddy magazine (based in Thailand) described the arrests as an intimidation strategy by the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) aimed at preventing opponents from gaining access to banned publications.

Those arrested include: Aye Kyaw Zwa, (Ko Hla Htut Soe, Maung Maung Aye) (aka Ko Baydar), San Shwe Maung (a monk), U Aung or Maung Htay (a lawyer), U Khin Maung Lay, U Win Swe (a civil engineer), U Zaw Win, brothers Ko Nay Win and Ko Yin Maung, Ko Htay (a lawyer), Chit Hsaung Oo, Dr. Khin Tun (former member of the New Generation Youth League), Lay Ko Tin (aka Tin Maung Win, author), U Cho, U Kyi Myint (a teacher and former general secretary of Burma United Democratic Party (BUDP)), U Zaw Pe Win (a teacher and former chair of the BUDP), and U Soe Tint (source: AI).

NLD Member Arrested for Making a Sculpture

On 7 November 2002, the SPDC arrested Ko Shwe Maung, an NLD member, in Mandalay for molding and displaying a bronze statue of a ‘Khamauk’ (bamboo hat), the symbol of the NLD.

Ko Shwe Maung, of Myat Yeik Nanda Tun Tone District, and children and youths of Tun Tone planned to display the gilded bronze statue to commemorate the NLD. The project was started following Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Mandalay. On 6 November, local people were fed with rice and chicken soup to celebrate the completion of the statue. The next day, Ko Shwe Maung was arrested by Military Intelligence. Ko Shwe Maung was reportedly charged under section 5 (j) and sent to Mandalay Prison (source: DVB).

3.12 Partial List of Civilians Arbitrarily Arrested in 2002

SPDC Forces Raid Residential Neighborhood

On 5 April 2002, a thousand-strong force of combined army soldiers, riot police, and local police raided a residential neighborhood in Rangoon’s Kamaryut Township, arresting and detaining residents. The raid followed a refusal by residents to obey an order by Colonal Yan Naing Oo to evacuate and move their homes by 5 April. According to eyewitness reports, government forces demolished seven homes and detained residents and their children, later separating the children and adults to be sent to different detention centers. It is not known how many residents were apprehended in the raid. Officials ordered the remaining residents to vacate their homes by 7 April (source: DVB).

Junta Arrests Two Chin Christian Ministers

On 5 April 2002, two prominent ethnic Chin Christian ministers were arrested by local SPDC officials at 49th Dagon North in the outskirts of Rangoon. Government officials also arrested eight extended family members of the two ministers, Reverend Htat Gyi and his son-in-law Pastor Lian Za Dal.

The ethnic Chins were arrested after Rev. Htat Gyi returned home from the Block Peace and Development Council office to file guest registration for his daughter and son-in-law who were visiting him. The local PDC branch reportedly refused the Reverend’s petition for guest registration saying the matter needed to be reviewed. Later that night, around midnight, authorities raided Rev. Htat Gyi’s home, arresting everyone in the house. Although local officials gave the cause of the arrests as "failure to file guest report," Rev. That Gyi was reportedly asked to stop holding religious services during his interrogation at Dagon North police station. Rev. Htat Gyi and Pastor Lian Za Dal were brought to Insein Prison on 8 April 2002, where they remain. The whereabouts of the other detainees is unknown.

An ethnic Chin, Rev. That Gyi worked as a middle school headmaster and with the United Nations Development Program before joining the Myanmar Evangelical Gospel School of Theology where he earned a Masters in Divinity (CHRO).

Junta Razes Neighborhood, Arrests Residents and Their Children

On 11 June 2002, the SPDC arrested 13 residents, including three children, in Rangoon’s Shwe Leikpyar quarter, for remaining in their homes after an order to vacate the previous day. On 10 June, an estimated 30 men from the military, local police and the junta’s Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) entered the neighborhood notifying residents to move all their belongings within 24 hours or face arrest. No explanation was given, according to residents. The following day, authorities raided the Kyee Myin Daing Township neighborhood and arrested 13 people still in their homes. Authorities later demolished dozens of houses in the neighborhood to make room for a new apartment complex, according to residents of the neighborhood.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia, NLD (LA) secretary U Nay Win said the residents and their children were being held in Insein Prison and the Htaung Kyant interrogation center in Rangoon. He said they had been charged under an obscure 1962 housing law.

Forced relocations in urban areas have become commonplace in Burma. The relocations are often times ordered to eradicate what the government sees as subversive cells or because of business interests. Residents normally receive no compensation from the government (source: Irrawaddy).

More Than 200 Villagers Arrested, Detained in Arakan State

From 11 to 15 October 2002, police arrested 231 men and four women in Baggona village, two miles south of Maungdaw, Arakan State. On 10 October 2002, Maung Lun, Chairman of the Rwa Thaya Village Peace and Development Council, invited five young men from nearby Baggona village to watch a local theatrical drama being staged in the village. During the performance, Maung Lun ordered local police to arrest the five men for the rape of two local village girls. Four of the men were arrested and one, Mohamed Yunus, escaped. The following day, the 11th of October, a police team from Maungdaw arrived in Rwa Thaya village on the pretext of looking for Mohamed Yunus. The police team arrested fifteen men who were put in Maungdaw police custody. The next day, police arrested sixteen more men, sending them to Maungdaw. On 15 October, following a visit by Western Commander Brigadier General Maung Oo, the Maungdaw inspector of police dispatched a team of twelve policemen and 20 hired thugs to round up youths in the village. A total of 200 villagers, including four young women, were arrested and detained in Maungdaw police custody. On 17 October, 69 detainees were released on payment of 100,000 kyat each. The remaining 166 villagers remained in police custody. Their current whereabouts are unknown (source: Kaladan Press).

3.13 Arbitrary Seizure of Villagers

(See also section on ethnic minority political prisoners)

Pegu Division

On 29 October 2002, troops from LIB 589 fired into a paddy field hut in Mae-yeh-khee village, Shwe-gyin Township, wounding Naw Hsa Shee, daughter of Saw Aye Lwin. Troops then seized Saw Aye Lwin, his wife Naw Sar Lar, son Saw Po Kyaw, and mother Pee Aye Tin and took them to Shwe-gyin Town.

Karen State

The following accounts of arbitrary seizure and detainment of villagers were reported, unless otherwise noted, in press releases filed by the Karen Information Center (KIC).

Doo-pla-ya District

On 26 February 2002, SPDC Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 103, led by commander Sein Tin, took three villagers hostage in Doo-pla-ya District. The men (Kyone-sein village head U Ko Gyi, Christian Evangelist Saya Kyi Than and Ka-sa villager Sein Hla Win) have not been released.

From 21 to 27 April 2002, combined troops from Column (1) & (2) of LIB (301), column (1) from LIB (416), and column (1) and (2) from IB (78) carried out operations in Htee-tha-blu village areas in Kya-inn township. The combining troops entered Htee-tha-blu village and then looted the villagers’ belongings. Pah Khaw Suu, 36 yrs old, was stabbed in the neck leather and tortured by the soldiers. Kwe Lay Lo, 40 yrs old, was tied up with the rope and beaten by the soldiers who then took him away and have not yet released him. The village preacher, Si Pa Tran, (51) yrs old, was captured and tortured by the LIB (301) column on 24th April 2002. Then he was handed over to IB (78) battalion and he has not yet been released. Gay Nay Htoo Moe, 49 yrs old was arrested and beaten after she was unable to give the soldiers walkie-talkies that they demanded. Gay Nay Htoo has not yet been released. Saw Paw Eh, 45 yrs old, was arrested by the battalion from LIB (301) and being severely tortured. He has also not yet been released. The battalion from LIB (416) arrested Pah Kyaw Po, 25 yrs old, and and tortured him severely. Pha Kyaw Po has not been released yet. The troops then burned down all the other buildings left in the village. Now, the villagers are facing great difficulties in trying to survive without food, shelter, or medical supplies. (Source: ABSDF)

On 22 April 2002, LIB (317) arrived in Baw-ta-lo-khee area, Kya-Inn township, and burned down the houses of (1) Saw Ta Tay No, (2) Saw Tae Mo Klo, (3) Pah Ta Ret, and (4) Pah Wee Poe houses. Then the troops arrested and took away three women: Naw Keh Eh, age (20), Naw Dah Lay, age (28), and the wife of Saw Ta Tay, age (17). The troops destroyed every thing at the house before they left and they have yet to release the three women who they kidnapped. (Source: ABSDF)

On 23 April 2002, columns (1 & 2) from LIB (301) arrived in Khaw-kha village, Kya-Inn township at 4:00 pm. The soldiers arrested and tied up the preacher, Hai Pay Htoo, age (44), and village residents, U Tha Wa, age (45), and Maung Kyi Hlaing, age (54). The soldiers then tortured the three men. These men have not yet been released. (Source: ABSDF)

On 24 April 2002, Troops from IB 75 looted and burned down the houses of villagers in Lay-ta-ri village, Kya-in Township. These troops also took women and children from Lay-ta-ri village to their army camp and threatened to burn down the whole village.

On 24 April 2002 IB (78), Column (2) led by commander Myo Hlaing Oo arrived at Mae Kaw Khee village, Kya-Inn township. The soldiers arrested and took away 50 of the village residents. (Source: ABSDF)

On 28 April 2002 at about 6 pm, the IB (78) column (2) commander with his unit burnt down a church and 2 religious halls in Kaw Keh village, Kya-Inn township. These buildings had been destroyed 4 days before by SPDC LIB (301) troops. In addition, the troops also tortured village residents and looted their money and belongings. Maung Pauk Kyaine, age (40), and two other villagers were arrested and taken away with the soldiers. Naw Cherry Pan and U Kyi Lin were both tortured severely. (Source: ABSDF)

On 13 May 2002, the SPDC LIB (301) Column (1) led by Min Din who arrived at Kwun-thit-ta village and summoned the villagers including children, to the religious community hall. The troops forced the villagers to stay inside the community hall for 3 days, without giving them any food. Many of the children cried every day because they were hungry. (Source: ABSDF)

On 25 May 2002, Ni Than, camp commander of LIB 301, summoned the chairpersons and secretaries of the villages of Tha-ya-gon, Ye-leh-gyi, Ye-leh-ywa-thit, Khun-thee-chan, Ahja, Ta-da-pyat and Leik-pyaw villages, in Win-yae Township, and the villages of Ka-yan-taung, Ka-sat, Kyone-sein and Mae-tet-klet villages in Kya-in Township to attend a meeting. Troops detained these village elders upon arrival at Paw-ner-moo camp.

On 5 June 2002, LIB 301 arrested Paw-ner-moo villager Saw Pay Ray, 38, near Theh-pyu-chaung village in Kya-in Township, extorted 35,000 kyat from him, and detained him in their military camp. He has not been released.

On 6 October 2002, troops from SPDC LIB 415, led by commander Nyunt Aye, detained and assaulted sixteen-year old Saw Ah Paw in Baw-klo area, Kya-in Township. No reason was given for his detainment. Two days later the youth was given 500 kyat and released.

On 26 October 2002, Bo Kyaw Htoo Lwin, of SPDC No. 2 Tactical Command of Western Command headquarters, arrested village head Saw Min Naung. Saw Min Naung had previously been arrested and beaten on 14 October 2002. Village elders were able to secure the village head’s release on 30 October 2002. However, Bo Kyaw Htoo Lwin warned the villagers that the next time another such incident happened, one hundred thousand kyat would be needed to secure release.

Mergui-Tavoy District

On 17 December 2001, troops from IB 25, led by Hla Win, arrested and assaulted Wa-shu-kho village heads Sai-bya, 40, and U Neh Pay, 50. Troops later demanded 600,000 kyat from them. Unable to pay, the two village heads have not been released.

On 6 February 2002, Infantry Battalion 280, led by Khin Maung Aye, demanded 90,000 to 100,000 kyat from cashew-nut plantation owners. Those who failed to pay were put in the detention cell at the IB 280 camp.

On 9 March 2002, Troops from LIB 402 detained Klet-ti village head Saw Tay Tay at Kaw-paw village and put him into wooden holding-stocks for two hours.

On 14 March 2002, troops from LIB 566, led by commander Soe Tarn, apprehended villagers at Si-thwee-khee and brought them to Pay-cha concentration camp. Captured villagers Pah Ti Kweh, Ti Ka Sah Taw and Saw Maung Kyaw were released after they gave up their guns to the troops. However, Saw Ka Lu Po and his son remained in custody having no guns to hand over to the troops.

Pa-pun District

On 13 April 2002, Bo Pa Kay and Bo Pa Ki from the junta-sponsored Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) Ka Hsaw Wah Battalion demanded 800 pieces of roofing thatch from the villages of Ta-per-pah, Wah-moe-loe, Kler-si-kho and Wah-klu-kho. As the villagers did not provide the thatching in time, the village’s headmen were put in detention for two nights.

Toungoo District

On 21 February 2002, SPDC troops arrested three villagers in Kaw-thay-doe village, Naw Ler, Naw Meh Ler and Saw Ku Wah. The remaining villagers were forced to feed the three during their detention.

On 23 February 2002, in Wa-me-per-kho village, SPDC troops looted household items from villager Maung Hsan and seized his 13-year old son, Saw Lah Hser.

On 1 April 2002, SPDC troops, led by commander Kyin Maung Htun, G-2 Thet Oo and G-3 Lin Zaw Oo, under SPDC Southern Command, locked up truck owner Naw Ma Mar of Kaw-thay-doe village in the detention cell of No. 3 Operation Command for failing to transport military supplies with her truck to Bu-hsa-khee. The No. 3 Operation commander Kyin Maung Htun ordered Baw-ga-li and Bu-hsa-khee villagers to complete transporting military supplies to Bu-hsa-khee within a few days.

Pa-an District

On 16 March 2002, Kawkareik Township General Secretary U Aung Lin and four SPDC policemen arrested 17 farmers in Kaw-bein village and forced them to sell their remaining paddies to the village paddy-buying center run by the government. The 17 farmers had previously provided the local authorities with false information about the acreage of their land (source: HURFOM).

On 10 November 2002, troops from SPDC LIB 209, led by Lieutenant Colonel Tin Maung Shwe, arrested Ta-ku-kraw villager Saw Plo Wah and stole 12 of his goats.

Thaton District

On 1 May 2002, troops from LIB 1, led by Bo Khin Maung, seized ten Ta-u-khee villagers and looted the Belin Township village.

On 2 May 2002, troops from LIB 1 column, led by Bo Khin Maung Oo, seized and took away three Klaw-hta villagers, three Kwee-lay villagers and two Toe-teh-khee villagers.

Shan State

Border Villagers Arrested and Tortured

On 18 June 2002, Burmese army troops killed, tortured, and arrested Shan villagers living in the border area across from Thailand’s Wianghaeng District of Chiang Mai. According to escapee eyewitness reports, army troops entered border village Hwe Yao and proceeded to kill two villagers¾Mayhtar, 36, who could not pay the 200 baht demanded of him by soldiers, and Zigta, apparently for wearing a faded, green military shirt without insignias. Burmese army soldiers also looted the village taking livestock, motor vehicles, and other valuables.

Thirteen other villagers were bound and taken outside the village where they were tortured and interrogated about Shan State Army (SSA) activities in the area. One man, Yazing, a former SSA fighter, was hanged on a tamarind tree, beaten and bayoneted, and had scalding water poured on his head.

All thirteen were later taken in a truck to Hwe Aw, 30 miles north of Chiang Mai’s Chiangdao District border. The whereabouts and condition of the detained villagers’ remains unknown, though it is believed they have been executed.

Most of those living in the border area were ex-resistance fighters and their families. The following are the thirteen villagers captured and detained by the Burmese army: Hsengfon, 48, Poong-nya, 23, Zai Yone, 28, Hsengharn, 25, Ti Lern, 23, Hsaikhong, 30, Yazing, 43, Zai Noong, 43, Zai Htarg, 25, King Jaw, 45, Zai Aw, 25, Ta Mawng, 24, Zai Long, 25 (source: S.H.A.N.).

Villager Disappears in Murng-Ton

On 22 August 2002, three soldiers from LIB 333 apprehended Zaai Thun as he was returning home from gathering vegetables near Naa Kawng Mu village, Murng-Ton Township. Zaai Thun, 38, and his family of three had to move to Naa Kawng Mu village after being forcibly relocated six years ago by SLORC troops from their home in Kaeng Lom village, Kun-Hing Township.

Zaai Thun’s whereabouts are unknown. Village leaders reported the arrest to the local SPDC authorities who denied any knowledge of the incident (source:SHRF).

Farmers Arrested and Extorted by SPDC

In October 2002, fourteen rice farmers were arrested and detained in jail in Keng Tung Township by SPDC authorities after challenging the method of rice procurement by the military. The military requires rice farmers to sell 12 baskets of rice per acre of cultivated land, no matter the crop yield. The military set the price at 300 kyat per basket, while the market price stood at 4,200 kyat per basket. Many farmers faced substantial losses and some were not able to meet the military’s rice quota.

Fourteen farmers suggested a method of rice procurement whereby the military would pay market rate for seven of the twelve baskets or, alternatively, farmers would give three baskets per acre for free. The SPDC arrested the fourteen and they remain in jail (source: SHRF).

Headman Arrested, Disappeared After Challenging Opium Production

On 2 October 2002, relocated Long Kawng village headman Lung Kun-Na was arrested by troops from LIB 518 in Murng-Nai Township. Previously, on 28 September 2002, Lung Kun-Na, 58, told his relatives and fellow villagers, all relocated to Nam-Zarng town, that he did not want them to grow opium as requested by SPDC authorities.

Lung Kun-Na told them he believed the Shan were being used in the middle of a propaganda campaign; the SPDC publicly claimed to be eradicating opium production, but continued to encourage villagers to cultivate the narcotic. The village headman said he believed the Shan people would be made scapegoats and be blamed by the SPDC for the country’s drug problems.

Several days later, on 2 October 2002, Lung Kun-Na was taken by truck from Nam-Zarng by SPDC troops. When relatives went to enquire about Lung Kun-Na at LIB 518’s base, they were told no troops had left Murng-Nai in seven months and added that they had never seen the village headman. The SPDC suggested that other armed groups disguised as SPDC troops might have been behind the headman’s disappearance. The whereabouts of Lung Kun-Na remain unknown (source: SHRF).

3.14 Arrest and Detention of Foreigners

Thai villagers Arrested on Charges of Illegal Logging

On 6 December 2001, seven Thai villagers were arrested in Burma on charges of illegally cutting trees. The Thais, including a pregnant woman, were sentenced to 5 years in jail by a Myanmar court. In March 2002, Myanmar authorities told a Thai delegation of the incident while attending a Thai-Myanmar border committee. The villagers were arrested at a military base opposite Thailand’s Prachuapkirikhan province, 280 kilometers from Bangkok (source: Xinhua News Agency).

Thai Businessman Arrested

A Thai businessman in Burma was put under house arrest in July 2002 for unknown reasons. The businessman was not granted bail and the Thai embassy was refused permission to pay a consular visit to the man. A group of Thai businessman alerted the Thai embassy of the arrest and said that the man was arrested after running into business problems (source: the Nation).

Thai Workers Detained on Burmese Island

In early June 2002, Burmese soldiers detained a group of 17 Thai workers on Burma’s Koo Island. The Thais were contracted to do an interior decoration job at a resort hotel on the island. Three of them were identified as Narong Hongsathan, Surachai Parnprommin and Manop Yorsaeng. Following the arrest, the Thai Third Fleet dispatched a vessel to patrol Kra Buri river bordering Thailand and Burma (source: Bangkok Post).

3.15 Personal Accounts

Interview with Myo Min Naing

Myo Min Naing fled Burma in mid-2003 crossing into Thailand. He served two prison sentences in Burma for his role in opposition and student activities, spending a total of ten years in three different prisons around Burma. Myo Min Naing is currently seeking political refuge in Thailand, where he daily risks deportation back to Burma. A prisoner in Burma, Myo Min Naing is once again essentially a prisoner in a safe house on the Thai border. The following interview was conducted by an HRDU researcher in June 2003.

Interviewer: When were you first arrested?

Myo Min Naing: I was first arrested on 14 August 1990 in Rangoon for my involvement in the student protests and democratic campaigns. I was sent to Insein Prison and then I was transferred to Tharawaddy Prison.

I: How long did you spend in prison?

M: Over three years. I was released in January 1994; I don’t know the exact date.

I: When you were released, did you become involved in opposition activities again?

M: Yes, I helped prepare for other activities. Before the 1996 student uprising I worked with eight other people to help prepare protests. But we were all arrested in December 1996. I was arrested on 15 December 1996. All of us received the same sentences, seven years in prison, under section 5 (j) of the law. We were accused of arranging the uprising.

I: When were the 1996 student uprisings?

M: 2 December, 6 December, and 13 December. Three separate occasions.

I: Where were you arrested?

M: I was arrested in Rangoon and sent to Insein Prison, but later I was transferred to Myingan Prison in central Burma.

I: Please tell me about daily life in prison.

M: There are so many things to talk about, so many things to say. When I first arrived at Myingan Prison, I stayed with 200 other prisoners in one compound.

I: Were they all political prisoners?

M: Most were political prisoners, but some were criminal prisoners. We had to

stay together with them. The criminal prisoners were the servants of the prison.

I: Where were you staying in Myingan Prison? What kind of cell?

M: When I first arrived in Myingan Prison, I was put in solitary confinement. I could not talk with other people. There were no conversations. No contact.

I: How long were you in solitary confinement?

M: Seven months and fourteen days, when I first arrived. I had to stay alone in my cell.

I: How big was your cell?

M: Ten by twelve feet.

I: And you were brought food?

M: Yes, they brought food, but very, very little. It was not enough.

I: What did they give you to eat?

M: Rice, vegetable soup, and very dirty fish paste. But you have to understand, house animals, dogs, they would not eat the food. Even pigs wouldn’t want to eat it. It was very dirty, terrible.

I: How often were you fed?

M: Twice a day.

I: And what about washing and bathing?

M: Two criminal prisoners would bring me to the bathing area. I was given 15 plates of water to wash with. Once a day.

I: When you were in solitary confinement, the only contact you had was with the criminal prisoners you took you to your bath?

M: Yes, the only contact. But we weren’t allowed to talk with them. We had to keep our heads bowed. And I was in shackles. For my first three and a half months in Myingan Prison, I was kept in shackles. This was common, not unusual.

I: What changed when you were taken out of solitary confinement?

M: I was put in a cell with two other people, political prisoners, for two months. Then I was placed with one political prisoner and one criminal prisoner for one and a half years. And then only with political prisoners again. But at least twice, I was put back into solitary confinement.

I: What was life like out of solitary confinement?

M: I could speak with the prisoners in my cell. But I could not have contact with any other prisoners. This was not allowed. But if I did make contact with other prisoners, they punished me heavily.

I: Were you allowed family visits?

M: Eight months after I arrived in Myingan Prison, I was allowed family visits. They could visit once every two months.

I: How long were the visits?

M: I could talk with my family for only ten minutes. But sometimes less, maybe only six or seven minutes.

I: Were you allowed to be given things from your family?

M: Some things, but there were many rules. Many things were forbidden. Certain foods.

I: What was your health like in prison?

M: I fell seriously ill a few times. There was not enough medical care. I rarely met with the prison doctor. I can’t even remember his face. I had a stomach disease. And I was beaten many times. Some of bones were very hurt.

I: Why did the authorities beat you?

M: There are many, many reasons. But sometimes I would share my food with my comrades, the other prisoners. And if they caught me I was beaten heavily. I was beaten for many reasons. Sometimes, if they found pieces of plastic paper or pieces of cheroot (Burmese cigarettes) paper, I would be beaten by criminal prisoners. There were no limitations to the punishments.

I: The criminal prisoners beat you, not the prison guards?

M: Yes, usually the criminal prisoners beat us. The prison authorities made the criminal prisoners beat us. Sometimes, a prison guard would watch, but not always.

I: How were you beaten?

M: With wooden rods. Very thick wooden rods. We were beaten like animals.

I: Do you think prison conditions have improved since you were first imprisoned?

M: No. There has been no improvement in the prisons. But when the ICRC visited prisons, things improved a little. The ICRC visited me maybe four times. I was interviewed about Myingan Prison.

I: Did the ICRC visits improve conditions in the prison?

M: There was a little improvement. For example, before the ICRC visited, there

were no sports and you couldn’t walk around. But when they visited you could walk around a little. For maybe 15 minutes. Cell by cell, we were allowed to walk around. Also, the ICRC requested to the authorities that they allow political prisoners to play cane ball. But the improvements would always disappear after the ICRC left the prison. Yes, gradually, all the improvements, the sports and the walking, would disappear. We often requested permission to play cane ball, but we were always refused. But during my last year in prison we were allowed to play cane ball, a little every day.

I: How long would the ICRC spend at the prison during their visits?

M: Maybe three or four days. They visited Myingan Prison four times, I think, while I was there.

I: Did the prison authorities ever question you after being interviewed by the ICRC?

M: Yes, they asked me some questions, but not officially.

I: When were you released?

M: I was released on 14 October 2002 with eight other prisoners. I spent six years in prison during that sentence.

I: How is your health now?

M: Not so good. I am still suffering stomach pain.

I: When you were released where did you do?

M: I was brought to my family’s home in Rangoon by Military Intelligence agents.

I: Were you harassed by the military government after your release?

M: Not so much. But I was always being watched. But I don’t know by whom.

I: Was it difficult to get a job after you were released?

M: There were many difficulties. I couldn’t work in many places. I wasn’t allowed to work in business. And I couldn’t continue my education. The authorities treated us like the opposition.

I: Why did you come to Thailand?

M: An important question. I wasn’t allowed to participate in politics in Burma as the authorities made me sign under section 401 [see 3.8 Release of political prisoners]. And I still want to change things in Burma. The SPDC also has a history sheet on me. Life was very difficult. I had no chances in Burma after prison. We suffer so much in Burma. It is hard to explain how brutal the situation

is for former political prisoners in Burma.

I: How old were you when you first went to prison?

M: Twenty years old.

I: And how old were when you were released the second time?

M: Thirty-two years old. I spent a decade in prison. Ten years of my life.

Personal History of a Former Political Prisoner

Nay Yein Kyaw is a former political prisoner who spent eight years in prison from 1992 to 2000. In September 2002, he left Burma for Thailand. He is currently seeking political refuge, having applied for refugee status with the UNHCR. Nay Yein Kyaw is a member of Thailand-based rights group AAPP.

Eight Years On The Concrete Floor

My name is Nay Yein Kyaw and I’m a former political prisoner from Burma. Why was I imprisoned? Burma has been under a military dictatorship since 1962. We have no democracy, no peace, and no human rights. Our people are oppressed and our national economy has been run into the ground. Most people are desperately poor. A number of opposition movements continue to struggle against the military government, and in some areas there is open civil war between the regime and the people. Students have founded a number of these opposition movements, as it is a tradition in my country for students to be active in demanding political change.

In 1988, thousands of people throughout Burma took to the streets to demand that the country be returned to civilian rule and democracy. At the time I was eighteen years old and a high school student. On August 8, 1988 I joined thousands of other people in Rangoon in a peaceful demonstration against the government. While we were marching through the city, soldiers opened fire. I watched as people in front of me were killed, arrested, and tortured by the army troops. Luckily I was able to escape.

Shortly after this, I joined a number of other high school and university students in forming the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU). ABFSU was led by two university students, Min Ko Naing and Moe Thee Zun. I worked as a member of the central organizing committee, helping to organize political demonstrations, write articles, and distribute food and other assistance to poor people in the city.

On September 18,1988, the military regime announced that they would implement a multi-party democratic system in Burma. I soon joined a new political party, the Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS), formed by ABFSU leader Moe Thee Zun and his colleagues. Our aim was to continue to organize the students who had scattered after the brutal crackdown of the pro-democracy uprising. As a DPNS member, I traveled to many areas of the country to talk to ordinary people about the problems they faced living under military rule. Later we were able to send this information about human rights violations to the media, foreign embassies, the UN and other international organizations.

On April 1989, I was walking on the road with Moe Thee Zun and other friends from DPNS when we were stopped by members of the military intelligence (MI). Moe Thee Zun was able to get away, however the three of us were taken for questioning. We were released three hours later. On March 23, 1989 the other leader of ABFSU, Ko Min Ko Naing was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison. He has yet to be released.

Throughout 1989 and 1990 I continued to support and work with ABFSU. In May 1990 the military regime decided to allow democratic elections to be held. We were overjoyed when the National League for Democracy led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi won 82% of the seats in parliament. However, shortly after the election results were announced the regime responded by throwing many of those elected into prison while many others were forced to flee the country. Prior to the elections Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest, where she would remain until her release in 1995.

In January 1991 my friend Zaw Tun and I were once again arrested by MI agents. They took us to the interrogation center, and for the next two weeks we were subjected to many forms of torture. I remember the interrogation center was like what I imagined hell would bea place where I was frequently blindfolded then beaten and kicked. During these beatings I suffered a number of severe blows to my head and back. For the first three days I was at the interrogation center I was not given any water or food. I was questioned all day and all night by different people using different forms of torture. Finally they sent me to Insein prison. After seven weeks I was released from prison. My friends had not betrayed me under interrogation, and so the authorities couldn’t sentence me. After I came back to my family, the authorities continued to watch me all the time. I kept thinking: what do I do? Where do I go? But I was still strongly committed to fighting for freedom and democracy so I continued my political organizing.

In December 1991 Daw Aung San Su Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Many students held demonstrations to support her and were subsequently arrested. At this time an MI captain came to my house to arrest me, but luckily I was away in another city. In April 1992, the regime announced plans to meet with some of the members of parliament elected in 1990. I worked with ABFSU to write and distribute a list of demands for this meeting. These were as follows:

(1) Immediate release of all political prisoners

(2) Abolish oppressive laws

(3) Address the basic problems of the people

(4) Ensure that any dialogue includes Daw Aung San Su Kyi, student leader Min Ko Naing, the leaders of ethnic nationality groups, and all elected MPs.

In June 1992 one of the ABFSU members was arrested and during interrogation he identified me. As a result, I was arrested at midnight on 8 June 1992, along with 8 other people. I felt that I had been sent back again to hell. When we arrived at the interrogation center they tortured us all very brutally. The methods of torture were much worse than the first time I was arrested, as they used not only physical but also psychological torture.

Upon arrival at the interrogation center I was separated from my friends and sent to a dimly lit dirty room where I was handcuffed and ordered to stand in front of a table. The MI asked me many questions. When they were not satisfied with my answers, they would force me to continuously squat and stand. When I tried to stop, they kicked and punched me many times and hit my knees with a bamboo rod. When I fell down on to the concrete floor, they grabbed me by the arm and pulled me upright. For another type of torture, I was put on a hollow chair and electric wires were attached to my arm so that they could give me electric shocks. I had no chance to sleep or rest for nearly three days and during this time I was given no water or food. I was so thirsty that I asked to go to the toilet hoping that I could take some water from there. However the guards watched me the entire time and when I attempted to drink some water from pot by the toilet they hit me. I was also kept blindfolded for the entire two weeks that I was at the interrogation center. I would like to explain in more detail about my experiences there, but it is very difficult for me to think about that time.

Finally after two weeks I was forced to sign a paper and then I was sent back to Insein prison along with the other 8 people who were arrested with me. What were our lives like in prison? Life in prison is worse than the lives of the poorest members of society outside. The prisoners are all pale and thin. Their faces are sullen and they look more dead than alive. We were not allowed to read, write, or study. The prison authorities did not intervene when some of the criminal prisoners we were mixed with took drugs or raped other prisoners.

Everyday we received two meals. In the morning we were given rice that was dirty and often contained sand and tiny stones. We were also given a small amount of bean soup made without any oil or spices, and some fish paste. In the evening, we got rice and fish paste along with a vegetable soup that was only water with a few vegetables. The fish paste was very salty and as a result of this diet many prisoners suffered from high blood pressure. The rest of the food was difficult to digest and lacked nutrients. In addition, as the drinking water was not clean, and sometime the food given to us was spoiled, we often suffered from diarrhea. We never received any treatment for this.

The medical care at Insein was very poor. There were only four doctors in the entire prison who were responsible for treating 9000 to 10,000 inmates. The doctors used criminal prisoners who were drug addicts to work as medical assistants. A number of prisoners contracted HIV/AIDS or other communicable diseases during medical treatment because the same syringe was frequently used for four or five people. In February 1996 one of the eight people who had been arrested with me, U Tun Sein died as a result of torture and insufficient food and medical treatment. U Tun Sein was a labor activist had been arrested four times beginning in 1963.

After I had stayed in Insein prison for six years, I was transferred along with a number of other political prisoners to Myingyan prison in upper Burma. Myingyan prison was the worst prison I stayed in. When we first arrived, the prison guards put sarongs over our heads, and dragged us in shackles from the main gate into the cell. Along the way they beat us repeatedly. The weather in Myingyan was hot during the day and cold at night, like in a desert. They only allowed us one blanket.

When we arrived, the other political prisoners and I were put in solitary confinement for one year. We were not able to communicate with each other. We were not able to share food or medicine that our families had sent us. When one prisoner walked down the cellblock to take a shower, each person had to sit with his back to the corridor so they could not make eye contact. During this time we were forced to perform meaningless tasks, such as polishing the iron bars of the cells to make them as bright as stainless steel, polishing the ground until it was as smooth as concrete, and catching flies.

I would like to tell you about some of my friends in Myingyan prison. One man who had been arrested with me in Rangoon got his thumb caught in the iron door of the cell. The prison doctor did not give him any treatment and eventually his thumb had to be amputated. Three of my other friends began to suffer from mental disorders as a result of the solitary confinement and daily threats and beatings from the guards. These guards were criminal inmates who had been put in charge of us. One of my friends was beaten severely by a guard when a person in the cell next door tried to pass him some extra food. Every night the entire prison was dark because they cut the electric current. That was very difficult for the people suffering from mental illnesses. Everything was silent and dark, and we could not get any support from our fellow prisoners. During the rainy season, the rain would come through the roof until everything in our cells became wet.

It was difficult to avoid missing my family and becoming depressed. To raise my spirits, I would often sing and sometimes write poems on the walls of my cell or on a plastic bag using a sharp needle. Before I was arrested I loved to go sailing, and while I was in prison I would often stare at the sky and imagine that it was an ocean. At night I was able to look out at the stars.

I spent two years and two months at Myingyan prison. In July 2000 I was released along with two other friends who had been arrested at the same time as me. We had spent over eight years in prison. Many of my friends are still there. Now I that I have been released from my nightmare, I am able to continue to work for my dream. But I know that I will have to face many more struggles in order to achieve democracy and peace in my country.

3. 16 Appendix 1

List of Political Prisoners Currently in Need of Medical Care (Source: AAPP)

No

Name

Imprisoned

Illness

Prison

1

Aung Aung

24

stroke (cannot walk)

Myaungmya

2

Aung Khine

14

Hypertension

Myitkyinar

3

Aung Kyaw Oo

14

Depression

Myitkyinar

4

Aung Kyaw Oo

10+7

Mental Disorder

Thayawaddy

5

Aung Kyaw Soe

7

Stroke, Monoplegia

Myaung Mya

6

Aung Myint

21

Gastric Ulcer, Hypertension

Insein

7

Aung Myo Tint

12

Heart disease

Myaungmya

8

Aung Myo Tint

12+7

Heart disease

Myaung Mya

9

Aung Naing

7

Depression

Myingyan

10

Aung Naing

20

Hypertension

Thayet

11

Aung Naing Oo

14

Breast pain

Pathein

12

Aung Pwint (Journalist)

21

Gastric Ulcer

Insein

13

Aung San

7

Depression

Myingyan

14

Aung Saw Oo

7

Malaria, Dysentery

Kalay

15

Aung Than Nyunt

14

Paralysis

Insein

16

Aung Thu

20

Arthritis

Myingyan

17

Aung Zin

7

Heart disease

Insein

18

Aung Zin Min

7

Gastric and Depression

Thayet

19

Aye Aung

45

Malarial, Typhoid

Kalay

20

Aye Kyu

21

Hypertension, Gastritis

Thayawaddy

21

Aye Myint Than

21

Arthritis, Heart disease

Myaung Mya

22

Aye Than

7

Hypertension

Insein

23

Ba Htoo Say

7

Tuberculosis

Thayet

24

Ba Min

7

Anemia

Myitkyinar

25

Chit Ko Ko

7

Mental Trauma

Mandalay

26

Doh Daung,U(NLD-MP)

7

Chest-pain, Hyper-tension

Mandalay

27

Dr May Win Myint

7

Heart disease, Coronary insufficiency

Insein

28

Dr Min Kyi Win (Mon-M.P)

7

Heart disease, Depression

Maw-la-mying

29

Dr Min Soe Lin(Mon-M.P)

7

Hernia

Maw-la-mying

30

Dr Saline Tun Than

7

Eye disease

Insein Prison Hostipal

31

Dr Than Nyain

7

Liver disease, Heart disease

Insein Prison Hostipal

32

Dr. Myint Naing (MP)

25+5

Sinusitis, Oitis Media

Thayet

33

Han Nyunt

7

Depression, Hallucination

Myaungmya

34

Han Tin (NLD)

7

Throat Cancer

Myaung-mya

35

Hla Hla Win

7

Heart Disease

Insein

36

Hla Shwe

7

Cardiac Disease

Thayet

37

Hla Win

15

Piles

Maw-la-mying

38

Hlaing Win Swe

7

Eye-sight Failure

Myaung-mya

39

Htay Nyunt

20+4

Depression

Mandalay

40

Htay Thein

20

Depression

Mandalay

41

Htay Win Aung

7+7

Cataract, Migraine

Insein

42

Htein Linn

7

Gastric Ulcer

Myitkyinar

43

Htwe Khine

7

Heart Disease

Thayawaddy

44

Htwe Myint

7

Neurological failure

Rangoon general Hospital

45

Khaing Soe (Araken)

Life

Heart & kidney problem

Insein

46

Khin Cho Myint

7

Arthritis

Mawlymine

47

Khin Khin Leh

Life sentence

Rheumatoid Arthritic

Insein

48

Khin Mar Yee

7

Osteoarthritis

Insein

49

Khin Moe Aye

7

Hypertension

Insein

50

Khin Zaw

20

Cataract, Migraine

Thayawaddy

51

Khin Zaw Win,Dr

15

Hypertension, Piles bleeding

Myitkyinar

52

Ko Ko Gyi

20

Limpoma chest and back

Thayet

53

Ko Ko Htwe

7

Neuropathy, Cataract

Myaungmya

54

Ko Ko Zaw

7

Hypertension and Heart disease

Maw-la-mying

55

Kyaing Tun

7

Glaucoma

Maw-la-mying

56

Kyaw Khaing@ Phoe La Pyaye

7

Arthritis

Pathein

57

Kyaw Kyaw Tun

7

Hernia, Piles bleeding

Myaungmya

58

Kyaw Min Tun

7

Mental disorder

Insein

59

Kyaw Mya(C.P.B)

20

Gastric Ulcer

Pathein

60

Kyaw Nyunt( NLD)

14

Ear disease(total deafness)

Mandalay

61

Kyaw Oo

7

Severe Asthma, Migraine

Myaungmya

62

Kyaw Wai Soe

12

Gastric Pain

Pathein

63

Kyaw Zin Htwe

21

Convulsion

Pathein

64

Kyi Kyi Win (N.L.D)

14

Arthritis

Mandalay

65

Kyi Thaung

7

Eye-sight Failure

Myaungmya

66

Kyi Tin Oo (author)

7

Heart disease

Insein

67

Kyu Kyu Mar

21

Arthritis

Insein

68

Leh Leh

7

Rheumatism

Insein

69

Letyar Win (Poet)

7

Anemia

Pathein

70

Lwin Nyein NLD

7

Hernia, Hepatitis

Myaungmya

71

Mann Maung Wah

7

General Break-down

Myaungmya

72

MannPhu Lone

7

Seriously Sick

Myaungmya

73

Mar Mar Oo

14

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Urtecaria

Insein

74

Maung Maung

10+6

Depression, Anorexia

Mandalay

75

Maung Maung Lay

7

Chest pain

Myaungmya

76

Maung Maung Oo

10

Anemia

Mandalay

77

Maung Oo

7

Hernia

Myaungmya

78

Maung Tin

12

General weakness and Anemia

Maw-la-mying

79

Min Thu

7

Coronary Heart Disease

Insein

80

Min Tin

7

Chest pain

Myaungmya

81

Min Zaw

14

Depression

Insein

82

Min Zaw Oo

7

Heart vessel disease

Myaungmya

83

Mon Ngwe Thein

7

Fistula in Anus, Urinary Track Infection

Maw-la-mying

84

Mya Sabai Moe

21

Convulsion, Paralysis of limbs

Shwebo

85

Myat San (N.L.D)

20

Gastric Ulcer, Tuberculosis

Insein

86

Myo Aung

14

Gastric Ulcer

Insein

87

Myo Htun

7

Arthritis, Tonsillitis Abscess

Shwebo

88

Myo Min Htaik

52

Heart, Lung disease, Pile

Pathein

89

Myo Min Lwin

7

Eye disease

Myaungmya

90

Myo Min Thein

7

Heart Disease

Myaungmya

91

Myo Min Zaw

52

Gastric Pain

Pathein

92

Myo Myint

7

Coronary Heart Disease

Thayet

93

Myo Myint

7

Heart disease

Tharwaddy

94

Myo Naing

7

Gout

Myaungmya

95

Myo Thein

7

Gout

Myaungmya

96

Naine Naine

21

Hernia, Heart vessel disease

Insein

97

Naing Aung Mon

7

Gastric Ulcer

Myaungmya

98

Naing Aung Than

Death

Gastric

Maw-la-mying

99

Naing Myint

20

Depression

Mandalay

100

Naing Ngwe Thein

7

Urinary Track Infection

Maw-la-mying

101

Nay Lin Soe

14

Eye disease

Kalay

102

Nay Tin Myint

20

Gastric Ulcer

Insein

103

Ne Zar Phyoe

7

Mental Trauma, Gastric

Maw-la-mying

104

Ngwe Lin

7

Bleeding pre Rectum

Thayawaddy

105

Nyi Nyi(Myo San)

7

Sinusitis, Oitis Media

Myaungmya

106

Nyunt Yin, Daw

Death-penalty

Anemia, Hypertension

Insein

107

Ohn Kyaing

7

Liver disease

Insein Prison Hostipal

108

Ohn Maung

7

Anemia

Insein

109

Pado Than Hla

10+7

Bleeding Piles

Taung-oo

110

Pe Ko Oo

Life

Tuberculosis

Thayet

111

Phone Thet Paing

7

Heart disease

Myin-gyan

112

Sa Saw Htoo

14

Spondylitis

Myaungmya

113

San Hla Baw

25

Glaucomam

Maw-la-mying

114

San Nu

10

Stroke and Renal Failure

Myaungmya

115

Sanny Thein

7

General Break-down

Myaungmya

116

Saw Benson

20

Heart disease and Bronchitis

Thayawaddy

117

Saw Nay Dun

Life-sentenced

TB and Gastric Ulcer

Thayet

118

Saw Tha Way

Life sentenced

TB and Gastric Ulcer

Thayet

119

Sein Hla Oo

7

Serious skin infection

Tharwaddy

120

Sein Lin

7

Hernia, Hypertension

Myitkyinar

121

Sein Win

10

Heart Disease, Chest-pain

Mandalay

122

Shwe Maung

7

Gastric Ulcer

Myingyan

123

Soe Moe Naing

10+7

Arthritis

Pa-thein

124

Soe Myint

7

Typhoid

Kalay

125

Soe Myint

7

Stroke

Thayawaddy

126

Soe Myint

7

Hypertension, Diabetes

Insein

127

Soe Win

24

Mental Trauma

Mandalay

128

Tha Lin Htin

7

Heart Disease

Kalay

129

Than Hteik br

7

Heart Disease

Myaungmya

130

Than Lwin

7

Malarial and Arthritis

Maw-la-mying

131

Than Maung

14

Chest infection, Neuropathy

Myaungmya

132

Than Naing

20+7

Suicidal tendency 3 times

Maw-la-mying

133

Than Than Htay

7

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Myaungmya

134

Thar Ban

7

Severe Eczema

Myaungmya

135

Thaung Kyi

14

Neuropathy (Family can't visit)

Myaungmya

136

Thawda Tun

7

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Tonsillitis

Insein

137

Thein Htay

7

Gastric Ulcer

Pathein

138

Thein Htwe

7

Tuberculosis

Pathein

139

Thein Tan

10+7

Heart Disease (Age:73)

Thayet

140

Thet Htun

10

Paraplegia

Myin-gyan

141

Thet Htun Oo

7

Malaria

Myaungmya

142

Thet Naing

7

Neuropathy

Myitkyinar

143

Thet Win Aung

59

Malarial

Kham-ti

144

Thi Thi Aung

7

Renal failure, Edema

Thayawaddy

145

Thida Htwe

7

Steel-rod in broken arm, overdue ; Low B.P.

Insein

146

Thu Wai

7

Chronic Bronchitis,Urithritis

Insein

147

Thura

14

Anamia

Insein

148

Thura Kyaw Zin

7

Hypertension, Gastric

Myaungmya

149

Thwe Khaing

 

Heart disease

Insein

150

Tin Aung

20

Hypertension, Diabetes

Kalay

151

Tin Aye

7

Skin infection, severe stress

Taungoo

152

Tin Aye Kyu

20

Hypertension, Depression

Mandalay

153

Tin Cho

7

Hypertension

Mandalay

154

Tin Hoe

7

Kidney Disease

Myaungmya

155

Tin Myint

10

Depression

Mandalay

156

Tin Soe

7

Hernia, Piles

Myaungmya

157

Tin Thaung

 

Blurred vision

Myaungmya

158

Tin Tun

20

Heart disease &Hypertension

Rangoon GH

159

Tin Win

7

Stroke

Thayet

160

Toe Po

7

Hypertension, Piles

Insein Prison Hostipal

161

Toe Toe

7

Severe Eczema

Myaungmya

162

Tun Aung Kyaw

7

Tuberculosis

Mandalay

163

Tun Aye

7

Tuberculosis

Thayet

164

Tun Myint

7

Hypertension

Mandalay

165

Tun Myint

21

Cataract , Hypertension

Insein

166

Tun Tun Oo

20

Gastric Ulcer

Insein

167

Win Aung

7+7

Hypertension, Depression

Maw-la-mying

168

Win Kywe

10

Stroke and Mental Trauma

Maw-la-mying

169

Win Naing

14

Heart disease

Maw-la-mying

170

Win Tin

59

Heart disease, Lung disease, U.T.I

Kandy

171

Winn Naing

7

heart problem, chest pain

Maw-la-mying

172

Wunna Maung

7

Heart disease

Mandalay

173

Yan Gyi Aung

20

Ulcer

Maw-la-mying

174

Yan Naing Min

20

Hernia, Hallucination

Mandalay

175

Ye Maw Htoo

10

Elephantiasis

Insein

176

Ye Min Naing

7

Sore eyes

Myaungmya

177

Ye Mon Kyaw

14

Gastric Ulcer

Myaungmya

178

Yi Mo

7

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Tonsillitis

Myaungmya

179

Yin Mon

7

Heart problem, chest pain

Myitkyinar

180

Zaw Hmaing Wai

7

General weakness

Mandalay

181

Zaw Htoo

Life

Gastric , Hypertension

Myaungmya

182

Zaw Min

10

Mental illness, Gastric

Thayet

183

Zaw Min Htun

7

Cardiac Disorder

Myaungmya

184

Zaw Naing

7

Tuberculosis

Thayet

185

Zaw Than Htike

14

Gastric Ulcer

Pathein

186

Zaw Tun

7+7

Mental Trauma , Anemia

Thayawaddy

187

Ze-ya

15

Pile

Thayawaddy

188

Zin Bo

7

Malaria

Myaungmya

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