Monday, 18 November 2019

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Activist dies in jail hospital after neglect

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Rights activist Kyaw Soe, who was arrested during the September 2007 “Saffron Revolution”, on Wednesday morning became the 144th political prisoner to die in a Burmese jail since 1988, after inadequate treatment at a prison hospital in Mandalay Division, a rights group said on Wednesday.

Also known as Kyaw Kyaw Soe and Jeffrey, the 39-year-old member of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP) in Taunggyi, Shan State, died of respiratory and abdominal diseases in Myingyan Prison, said Bo Kyi, joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB), based in Mae Sot, Thailand. 

“Kyaw Soe was denied timely access to medical treatment or suitable doctors for his stomach and respiratory conditions”, he told Mizzima. “He had been charged over connections with Burmese exile political organisations in Thailand but had merely distributed copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the people.”

He was arrested at his home in Taunggyi on September 17, 2007 and remanded in custody at Insein prison, Rangoon. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on November 11, 2008 for violations of: section 17(1) of the Unlawful Association Act; section 13(a) of the Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act and section 505(b) of the Penal Code for “upsetting public tranquility”. Later that month he was transferred to Myingyan Prison, the political prisoners’ rights group said.

During interrogation he was tortured, and was the 144th political prisoner to die in prison in Burma since 1988, the AAPPB said. 

Tate Naing, secretary of the prisoner’s rights group, said that when Kyaw Soe’s family asked prison authorities to buy appropriate medicine for him, the authorities said they had had been taking care of him “adequately and carefully”. 

“Now, it is obvious that they were not treating him properly,” Tate Naing, said. “The deplorable conditions in Burma’s prisons: the absence and denial of adequate medical

treatment, torture and mistreatment, causes and exacerbates the health problems of prisoners, leading to the tragic deaths of far too many of Burma’s human rights defenders and democracy activists.” 

Since 2007, at least 20 members of the HRDP have been arrested, the prisoner’s rights group said. Among more than 2,100 political prisoners in the 44 prisons and more than 50 labour camps in Burma, 142 were in poor health. Most suffered from malaria, hypertension, heart conditions and diarrhoea, Bo Kyi said.

More than 200,000 prisoners in Burmese prisons were denied adequate medical care and treatment, he said. 

They are not given their basic rights concerning adequate medical treatment or decent doctors,” Bo Kyi said. “They are suffering from severe malnutrition and such conditions lead many political prisoners to die behind bars.” 

Kyaw Soe leaves behind his wife, May Han Ei, and a seven-year-old daughter.


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