Monday, 18 November 2019

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Prison officials foil observing Independence Day

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Prison authorities foiled a plan by political prisoners in Myitkyina prison to observe Independence Day on January 4.

Political prisoners, including famous comedian and film actor Zargana planned to observe Burma’s Independence Day, commemorating the country’s freedom from British rule, on January 4. But the jail officials stopped them.

“Officials did not allow the prisoners to salute the national flag on January 4.  The political prisoners protested against the ban by shouting slogans,” a person who recently met a political prisoner told Mizzima.

Opposition political circles said a prison staff of Corporal rank, who stopped political prisoners from observing Independence Day had served in Insein prison in 1990 and is known to have tortured political prisoners. He was transferred from Puta-O prison to Myitkyina prison in mid-December last year.

Political prisoners usually observe such important anniversaries inside prisons in a clandestine manner.

Myitkyina prison has a total of 20 political prisoners including Zargana a.k.a. Thura, 88-Generation student leader Myat San, and Thiha Thet Zin from Bogale. Monk U Seindama a.k.a. Swe Min and Aung Myint, are serving their prison sentences here.

Zargana is serving a total of 35 years in prison after he was arrested for relief-related activities for victims of Cyclone Nargis. Political activist Thiha Thet Zin is serving an 18-year sentence.

In his Independence Day message to the Burmese people, junta supremo Senior General Than Shwe, confirmed that the country will go to the polls this year in accordance with the constitution approved in 2008. He urged voters to make "correct choices" in the elections.

However, the regime is yet to announce the dates of the elections, while it apparently prepares and is organizing itself and its military candidates to contest the polls. According to the 2008 constitution, the country has reserved 25 per cent of parliamentary seats for the military.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) that  recorded a landslide victory in 1990 but was disallowed from forming a government by the regime said in its Independence Day message that it was willing to contest the forthcoming elections if the military regime releases political prisoners and makes proper amendments to its Constitution.

“We reiterate our call to the junta to amend the Constitution and release political prisoners, and then we will decide on contesting the 2010 elections,” Nyan Win, spokesperson of the NLD told Mizzima.


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