Burma

High-Profile Ethnic Rakhine Political Prisoners Among Those Freed to Mark Myanmar Union Day

By The Irrawaddy 12 February 2021

YANGON—Prominent ethnic Rakhine politician Dr. Aye Maung and writer Wai Hin Aung, who were sentenced to long jail sentences for high treason, were freed on Friday as part of the military regime’s release of inmates, including political prisoners, to mark Union Day.

Their relatives confirmed to The Irrawaddy that the two were released from Insein Prison in Yangon at around 11 a.m. on Friday.

“Dr. Aye Maung and Ko Wai Hin Aung have been released. I have spoken with Dr. Aye Maung directly over the phone,” said U Aung Than Wai, a friend of Dr. Aye Maung.

The State Administrative Council said in an announcement signed by coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing that it had ordered the release of 23,314 prisoners across the country to mark Union Day, which falls on Feb. 12.

Citing Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the announcement states that the prisoners’ release is conditional; should they be convicted of another offense, they would have to serve the remainder of their previous sentence in addition to the new one.

A total of 231 prisoners were released from Sittwe Prison in Rakhine State’s capital. Among those released are armed forces personnel imprisoned for unauthorized absence from military service, those who were imprisoned for using or selling drugs, and some Rohingya prisoners.

In March 2019, Dr. Aye Maung and writer Wai Hin Aung were sentenced to 20 years in prison for high treason under Article 122 of the Penal Code and another two years for sedition under Article 505, to be served concurrently.

The duo were arrested in January 2018 in Sittwe for remarks they made earlier that month at an event in Rathedaung Township commemorating the 233rd anniversary of the fall of the Arakan kingdom to the Burmese in 1785.

In January 2020, the pair lost a special appeal to the Supreme Court of the Union. They spent more than 18 months behind bars in Yangon’s Insein Prison.

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