Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eighteen More Political Prisoners Transferred

The Irrawaddy News

Another 18 political prisoners were transferred from Rangoon’s Insein Prison to remote prisons around Burma on Monday, and family members are struggling to confirm their loved ones’ whereabouts.

According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), 18 political prisoners were transferred to various prisons including Thaton Prison, Moulmein Prison, Kale Prison, Meiktila Prison, Myingyan Prison, Bamaw Prison, Taungyi Prison, Lashio Prison, Tavoy Prison, Paungte Prison and Tharawaddy prison.

Beginning last Sunday, many prominent political prisoners, including Buddhist monks, leading activists from 88 Generation Students, lawyers, a blogger and a poet, were transferred from Rangoon's Insein Prison.

Many family members say they still can’t locate where their loved ones have been transferred during the past week.

Aung Tun, the younger brother of leading activist Ko Ko Gyi, said his brother was no longer in Kengtung Prison in Shan State and his location is unknown.

Also human rights activist Su Su Nway is now in Kale Prison in Sagaing Division, according to Nyan Win, a spokesperson of National League for Democracy, even though Insein Prison authorities said she was transferred to Mandalay Prison last week.

Many families say the remote locations are causing added difficulties in visiting their loved ones.

Aung Thein, a lawyer who defended members of the 88 Generation Students was given four months in prison for contempt of court, is currently detained in a prison in Bassein, the capital of Irrawaddy Division.

His wife said, "I spent 10,000 kyat (US $8) to visit his prison last week. They told me they couldn’t allow me to see him due to National Day. I had stayed for two days but I didn't see my husband."

Meanwhile, the Burma Fund, a policy think tank of the exiled government, the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, has released a report, "The Findings in the Open Heart Letter Campaign,” which is based on data compiled by the 88 Generation Student group before many of its members were arrested. The group initiated a campaign on January 4, 2007, calling on Burmese citizens to write letters describing their feelings about the social and political situation in the country.

Dr. Thaung Htun of the Burma Fund told The Irrawaddy: "By releasing this report, we hope the international community—and especially Asean—will give more attention to the situation in Burma because it is getting worse."

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