Bail Set at $10k for 11 Letpadan Activists

By Nobel Zaw 7 July 2015

RANGOON — Bail has been granted to 11 activists detained after a brutal crackdown on student demonstrations earlier this year, family members said, while five other requests were denied by a court in central Burma.

A hearing on Tuesday culminated with the decision to release 10 students and one supporter of the protest movement on the condition that each detainee can provide proof of at least US$10,000 worth of assets held by no more than two guarantors, according to San Win, the father of detainee Ye Wint Aung.

The 11 prisoners will be released from Tharrawaddy Prison in Pegu Division on July 14, he said.

Five other requests for bail were denied on the grounds that the detainees lack sufficient documentation that they are students, though the group—four students and one supporter—will have the option of appeal at a township-level court if they can provide the necessary documents, San Win said.

More than 70 students and their supporters are now facing charges after police violently dispersed a protest camp outside a monastery in Letpadan, Pegu Division, on March 10. Some of the charges carry penalties of up to three years under articles 143, 145, 147, 332 and 505 (b) of Burma’s Penal Code. The protests were held in opposition to a new National Education Law viewed as undemocratic.

The scores of detainees, if convicted, will be counted among a list of the nation’s prisoners of conscience maintained by Burma’s leading political imprisonment watchdog, the AAPP. The group has also raised alarm that health conditions are deteriorating in Tharrawaddy Prison, as several detainees injured at the time of their arrest have not received adequate medical attention.

Two such detainees, supporters Tin Win and Khin Hlaing, have suffered severe medical conditions requiring their temporary transfer to Rangoon General Hospital for emergency treatment. The former was among the five denied bail on Tuesday.

Tin Win, 44, is still hospitalized after receiving throat surgery last month. A police battering during the crackdown crushed his esophagus and caused damage to his nervous system, according to his brother, Nay Zaw Lin. After nearly a month in hospital, Tin Win still can’t walk or eat without assistance.

In light of his worsening medical condition, Tin Win appealed directly to the district court for release on bail. Following the court’s rejection, he now must resubmit his request to a lower court next week, his brother said.