Political prisoners still in Burmese jails



(Mizzima) – Burma Campaign UK (BCUK) has urged the British government to do more to persuade the military-backed government in Burma to release all remaining political prisoners.

There have been a series of positive changes in Burma, including the release of high profile political prisoners, and Aung San Suu Kyi being elected as a member of parliament, BCUK said in a statement. However, hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars in appalling conditions in jail, it said.

“The unconditional release of all political prisoners is an essential step towards genuine democracy and freedom in Burma regardless of the changes in Burma, all the repressive laws which enabled the jailing of political prisoners still remain in place,” it said.

To remember those who still remain in jail, Burma Campaign UK said it will highlight the case of a different political prisoner every month. This month, April, is Thant Zaw (aka) Than Zaw.

Thant Zaw was sentenced to 30 years in 1989 and still remains in jail. He was accused without any evidence and charged with two different counts including High Treason within the Union of Burma Act, said BCUK.

He is a 43-year-old activist and he was an active member of the National League for Democracy Youth (NLD Youth). He was sentenced to death with 30 years in jail in September 1989, but the sentence was later reduced to 30 years in prison. Due to the brutal tortures he went through, Thant Zaw’s health has deteriorated in prison but he has not received any medical attention. His mother, Sein Sein, 70 years old, told Democratic Voice of Burma of her worries about not being able to see her son’s release before she dies.

Wai Hnin, campaigns officer at Burma Campaign UK said, “No one should be left behind in this process of change in Burma. There cannot be peace and a democratic system in Burma as long as one political prisoner still remains in jail.”

Burma Campaign UK supporters are being asked to write a letter to Foreign Minister Jeremy Browne asking him to take action to secure the release of Thant Zaw and for the release of all of Burma’s remaining political prisoners. Solidarity letters can also be written and sent to Thayet prison where Thant Zaw is being held.