Several Jailed Letpadan Activists Placed in Solitary Following Court Appearance

By Yen Saning 1 July 2015

RANGOON — Several student activists, imprisoned since the brutal police crackdown on education reform protesters at Letpadan in March, have been placed in solitary confinement for bringing cigarettes and betel nut back to prison after a court appearance on Tuesday.

Six students were placed in solitary confinement on Tuesday night while a seventh was put in solitary on Wednesday, according to Nay Win, the father of detained student activist Phyo Phyo Aung.

“We didn’t have a plan to come today as the students have decided to boycott family visits. But after news of their [solitary] confinement… they were concerned and they asked us to come,” he said.

Guards also conducted a training drill at the prison on Tuesday night, according to Nay Win, held to simulate their response in the event of a disturbance or breakout.

All detained students in Tharrawaddy Prison had vowed to boycott prison visits in solidarity with 35 of their fellow detainees who had their family visits banned after they were also caught with betel nut and cigarettes on June 16.

“My son told me not to come and meet him at the prison as some other students were banned from family visits,” Khin Khin Yu, the mother of Min Thway Thit, told The Irrawaddy.

Fifteen students who are still seeking bail were brought to the Tharrawaddy Township court on Tuesday. The court is scheduled to give its decision on July 7.

Khin Hlaing, a 26-year-old activist, fainted at Tuesday’s court hearing and was taken to hospital. He was first hospitalized on June 9 after fainting and coughing up blood outside the prison prior to a scheduled court hearing.

“He said he couldn’t eat anything and that he vomits after he eats. He was feeling nauseous and when he walks, he faints,” said Khin Khin Yu, who was at the courthouse.

Aung Thein of the Myanmar Lawyers’ Network said he submitted a bail request for Tin Win, 44, another jailed activist who is currently receiving treatment at Rangoon General Hospital.

Other students are also suffering minor health problems including stomachaches and lingering soreness following the violent crackdown by police at Letpadan on March 10, according to Khin Khin Yu.

Female detainees have said they recently received a medical check-up by a doctor in prison.

Students attending Tuesday’s court hearing sang songs and held a minute of silence to mark 53 years since the Gen Ne Win-led junta dynamited the Student Union building at Rangoon University on July 7, 1962.