Friday, June 19, 2009

Four Democracy Activists Complete Prison Terms

Taungup (Narinjara): Four democracy activists were released from Buthidaung prison recently after serving their prison terms, said a colleague of them.

"They were released from Buthidaung prison recently after their sentences were completed. Now they have returned back to their home town from Buthidaung," he said.

The released activists are Ko Than Htay, Ko Moe Kyaw, Ko Zaw Naing, and Ko Aung Naing Min. All are from Taungup in southern Arakan State.

The four were arrested by Burmese military authorities on 27 March, 2008, while they were publicly distributing a statement from the National League for Democracy and a pamphlet with the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

They were charged by police in the Taungup court under a section of Act 451, which relates to a person trespassing on property without permission from the owner.

The judge in Taungup Township sentenced them to one year in prison without allowing a defense, and sent them to the notorious prison in Buthidaung in northern Arakan.

Even though they were released after their jail term was complete, they have not dared to have contact with the media because the authority has threatened them about disclosing information about the prison to the media.

"They had a bitter experience in the Buthidaung prison but they have to keep it to themselves because the military authorities threatened them if they disclose anything regarding the prison to the media," the colleague said.

In Buthidaung prison, the prison authorities regularly abuse prisoners' rights and sometimes torture the political prisoners when they refuse to follow any prison regulations.

An army major came to the prison just before their release and instructed them not to participate in political activities in the future and advised them to live with their families peacefully.

The major also told them not to disclose anything about the prison or what happened to them during their time there to the outside media, the source added.

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