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Aung San Suu Kyi’s aide Tin Oo released

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Tonight in Rangoon, after six-years of detention, Tin Oo, the eighty-two year old deputy chairman of the National League for Democracy was released from house arrest.

Immediately after his release he told Mizzima in a phone interview that he is not particularly happy because many of his colleagues are still in jail. When asked for his view on the coming 2010 elections, he said he would join other democracy activists and work for the restoration of democracy in Burma. release-utinoo3

“We have not reached our goal of achieving democracy in Burma. So, we have to continue the struggle peacefully”, he said.

Tin Oo, a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi and co founder of the NLD was arrested in 2003 after the Depayin incident of May 30th when a group of armed thugs ambushed an NLD convoy that was accompanying Aung San Suu Kyi on a speaking tour.  The attackers are believed to have been from the Burmese regime’s “civil society organization” the Union Solidarity Development Association (USDA).

After narrowly escaping being killed Tin Oo, Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD members were arrested by the regime which claimed that the NLD had in fact attacked local villagers and then faked their own injuries.  Following his arrest Tin Oo was jailed in Kalay Prison in Sagaing Division until February 2004 when he was transferred to strict house arrest and held under the ‘Safeguarding the State from the Danger of Subversive Elements’ law.

Tin Oo a former general and decorated soldier is said to have suffered from poor health in recent years.  He was first jailed in the 1970’s by Burma’s then Dictator General Ne Win.  He was also kept under house arrest from 1989 to 1995.

Well wishers defy USDA Thugs

In anticipation of his imminent release, Tin Oo’s supporters and NLD colleagues waited for more than three hours in front of the Rangoon home that had served as his prison.  While police officers entered his compound to formalize the end of Tin Oo’s house arrest at No.30, Thanlwin street, Bahan township, more than a dozen members of the USDA also waited outside to intimidate Tin Oo’s well wishers and friends.

Dr. Win Naing, NLD Central Executive Committee member was part of the large group of supporters that defied the USDA thug’s intimidation tactics.  According to Dr. Win Naing:

“We were sitting in front of the home. U Khin Maung Swe, Dr. Than Nyein, U Thein Nyunt, U Ohn Kyaing, myself and U Sein Hla Oo were sitting in a group. There were also about 25 correspondents for foreign and domestic news agencies. Mosquitoes bit us in the darkness but we were enthusiastic.”

NLD Central Executive Committee member Ohn Kyaing told Mizzima that Tin Oo’s “condition is good and he is fresh and healthy.” Ohn Kyaing added that Tin Oo answered reporters dressed in a NLD uniform and a traditional Burmese "penni" jacket.

Burma democracy activists welcome release but remain cautious

Burma democracy supporters welcomed the release of highly regarded NLD leader but they caution that it should not be interpreted as a sign of significant change by the Burmese regime.

“Burmese democracy activists are regularly released when the generals want to score points with the international community, and are then arrested again later. Even the release of more than a thousand political prisoners would only take us back to 2003 levels, when U Tin Oo was jailed,” said Mark Farmaner, Director of London-based Burma Campaign UK.  The Thailand-based Assistant Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP-B) recently reported that at present there are more than 2200 political prisoners languishing in Burmese jails.

Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma is set to visit Burma Monday on a five-day visit. He is expected to meet with Burma’s political leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi.

The NLD, winner of a landslide victory in the 1990 elections but denied by the Burma’s military regime the chance to form government, has recently expanded its Central Executive Committee (CEC) from 11 to 20 members. The expansion of the leadership occurred after detained NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed by the military regime to meet the aging leaders of the party including Tin Oo last December.  

Upon his release Mizzima conducted the following brief interview with Tin Oo. 

Q: When you were released how did you feel?

A: I don’t feel happy as many of my colleagues are still behind bars.

Q: What will you do in future?

A: I shall first report to party Head Quarters and shall work on whatever jobs they assign me. I must follow the orders and instruction given to me by the party. We must work for the future of our party in unity and by discussing and consulting with others.

Q: What is your stand on the upcoming 2010 general election?

A: We have not yet reached the goal of our democratic struggle. So we must work to accomplish this mission and to reach this goal peacefully.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 14 February 2010 02:31 )  

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