Campaign to Free Prominent Prisoner Wins Wide Support

Lae Lae Win, wife of political prisoner Myint Aye, sits below portraits of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in her home in Rangoon. (Photo: Reuters)

Supporters of Myint Aye, the imprisoned founder of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP) network, say they have collected more than 10,000 signatures since launching a campaign for his release late last month.

The 61-year-old rights activist was sentenced to life in prison in November 2008 after being found guilty of conspiring to blow up a branch office of the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Association in Rangoon’s Shwepyithar Township earlier that year.

He is currently serving his sentence in Loikaw Prison, in eastern Burma’s Karenni State.

The HRDP said that it started its campaign in Irrawaddy and Pegu divisions in the last week of September, but last week began collecting signatures in Rangoon, Tenasserim, Mandalay and Sagaing divisions and Mon, Shan, Karrenni and Kachin states.

“We will continue collecting signatures until the end of this month and then send the petition with a letter of appeal to President Thein Sein, calling for the release of U Myint Aye and other remaining political prisoners,” said Maung Maung Lay, the current leader of the HRDP.

“U Myint Aye has been working in a peaceful manner to promote human rights and democracy for more than 40 years. Although the new government is introducing democratic reforms and has released some political prisoners five times in less than two years, U Myint Aye is still in prison,” he added.

Myint Aye was charged under Section 3 of the Explosives Act, Section 6 of the Law Relating to the Formation of Organizations, Section 17/1 of the Unlawful Association Act and Section 13/1 of Immigration Act for his alleged role in the 2008 bomb plot.

Two other suspects—Yan Shwe from Shwepyithar and Zaw Zaw Aung from Hlaing Tharyar Township—are also still in prison in connection with the incident.

“[Myint Aye] was forcefully arrested, tortured both physically and mentally and forced to plead guilty to crimes that he did not commit and sentenced to life imprisonment under the previous military regime,” said Maung Maung Lay.

The HRDP also plans to send the letter to international rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as the office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, the Asia Human Rights Commission and UN human rights envoy for Burma Tomas Ojea Quintana.

Myint Aye founded the HRDP in 2001. According to the group, this is his eighth time in prison since 1974.

3 Responses to Campaign to Free Prominent Prisoner Wins Wide Support

  1. Myanmar military government has been fabricating and accusing others of doing horrible things. Myanmar soldiers planted bombs on railroads and blew up, then accused KIA or KNU of planting them. Fabrication is what they can do best for the nation. Whoever spend time behind bars in Myanmar do not receive proper trials in the court of law. Without legal representation, many accused were made guilty and sentenced to long term prison time. That’s why Thein Sein needs to reverse every case because justice was never served in the time of military rule in Myanmar. In Myint Aye’s case also, he stood against military rule, and that might be the only reason he received this kind of punishment. Standing against them is considered high crime. It is laughable to me. Thein Sein was part of military rule and he may still see Myint Aye as his enemy. 

  2. Tyrants are seldom free; the cares and the instruments of their tyranny enslave them.

  3. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    The reform process of democratization in Burma is still in its battle of manipulation by so called moderate generals and hardliners. The proof of that is denial of political prisoner existence by current reformist government, arguing only criminal charges is found against the people, whom NLD, and right-activists claimed are political prisoners. The proof of that is recent charge against peaceful demonstrators calling to an end to civil wars in Burma. The proof of that is a law-suite against the lawyers who defend the land of farmers from being stolen by military cronies. 

    Honesty is what it count to be the most important factors to have understanding and trust during the transition time of democratization in Burma. Drop all the non-sense and release all political prisoners according to the lists of NLD or Burma will go back to square, threatening the stability of the whole nation. 

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter

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