Wife Says Ex-officer on Death Row Is a Political Prisoner

By Lawi Weng, Political Parties 10 July 2013

RANGOON — The wife of former Burmese military officer Win Naing Kyaw, who was detained exactly four years ago and sentenced to death for leaking state secrets, says that he is a political prisoner and should be released.

“It is sad to see they still have hate towards my husband, this is why they did not release him. Many people, including even ethnic rebels, were granted amnesty and released from prison, but not my husband,” said Khin Moe San.

She said that as President Thein Sein’s reformist government has released hundreds of political prisoners it should acknowledge that Win Naing Kyaw was also a prisoner of conscience who deserves amnesty.

“They always say they want all-inclusive political change and this is why they released political prisoners. But they still locked up my husband,” she told The Irrawaddy. Khin Moe San added that her husband was being held at Tharawaddy Prison in Pegu Division.

President’s Office Minister Soe Thein recently said that the former major was not a political prisoner as the government has evidence of his guilt.

Win Naing Kyaw, a former personal staff officer assigned to the State Peace and Development Council’s Secretary-2, the late Lt-Gen Tin Oo, was arrested on July 9, 2009.

Win Naing Kyaw and Thura Kyaw of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office were both sentenced to death under the State Emergency Act III in January 2010 for leaking military secrets to the exiled media. Pyan Sein of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received a 15-year sentence for violation of the Electronic Act.

The three were arrested after information and photos about former Gen Shwe Mann’s trip to North Korea were leaked to exiled news media. The trip by Shwe Mann, the current Lower House Speaker, involved procuring military arms, tunnel building and other matters.

Khin Moe San said that her husband had been wrongfully accused of leaking the material, although he had not been involved in the transfer of information.

She said that authorities at the time forced her to sign a statement regarding her husband. “They told me to sign and my husband would be sentenced for two years in prison. But, later they charged him with additional offenses.”

Bo Kyi, the joint secretary of the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), said a government committee that is reviewing the status of Burma’s remaining political prisoners had been reluctant to discuss Win Naing Kyaw’s case, adding that AAPP considered him a political prisoner.

“We recognize as political prisoners those who work for political change, and who were put in prison during these efforts. Ex-Maj Win Naing Kyaw is a political prisoner in our list,” said Bo Kyi.

“We will continue to talk and propose to the government clearly why we think they should be recognized as political prisoners. This problem can only be solved by negotiating with each other.”