Monday, 18 November 2019

Mizzima News

Home > News > Inside Burma > Volunteer support network for political prisoners launched

Volunteer support network for political prisoners launched

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The National League for Democracy (NLD) launched a network of over 300 volunteers in support of political prisoners at an Independence Day function held yesterday at their head office in Bahan Township, Rangoon yesterday.

NLD party members and supporters matched volunteers with prisoners and their families through a lottery.  Volunteers

undertake to contact to their respective prisoner’s family and give both moral and materials support.

“This does not mean bearing all expenses for their allocated political prisoners from their own pockets. (Volunteers) can also give encouragement and support. Such support is helpful and will go some of the way in alleviating their problems”, Ohn Kyaing, the head of NLD’s Information Department told Mizzima.

“When I was in prison, I felt happy to know I had been remembered, that someone showed their love by giving even a small pouch of fish paste. I was encouraged and my morale was boosted”.

“In prison, morale and spiritual encouragement are very important”, Ohn Kyaing added.

Despite continued advocacy by international human rights groups, over 2,200 political prisoners remain in prisons across the country, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).  The group says that conditions for political prisoners are poor, many suffer ill health and at least 146 prisoners have died in custody since 1988.

In December, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the country, Tomas Ojea Quintana called for their unconditional release.

The NLD itself has over 600 of their own party members in prison. At least half of this number will today have a volunteer assigned to them, including volunteers from the party leadership. 

Nobel laureate and party leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been paired with Soe Min Min from Hlaing Tharyar Township, Rangoon, while central committee member and former journalist  Win Tin will provide volunteer support for Win Mya Mya, an executive committee member of the NLD’s Mandalay Division being held in Puta-O prison.

NLD Women Affairs Committee member Le Le has been paired with 88 Generation Student leader Nilar Thein, who is being held in Thayet prison.

Nyunt Nyunt Oo, mother of imprisoned 88-Generation student leader Punneit Tun who is serving a 65-year prison term, said that NLD’s this programme was great and a ‘noble effort’.

“It’s a very good programme and I thank them”, she told Mizzima.

All political prisoners including monks, student leaders and ethnic leaders must be immediately and unconditionally released, she said.

The Independence Day celebration was attended by over 1,000 people including diplomats, ethnic leaders, veteran politicians and recent candidates from the November 7 general elections.

NLD central committee member May Win Myint said that the party had raised around four million kyat from the trade fair organised since January 2. The funds will be used to support both political prisoners and HIV patients.

A concurrent celebration for 200 young people was held at the residence of Thein Dan, branch chairman of the Mandalay division NLD.

Senior General Than Shwe’s Independence Day message reported in yesterday’s official papers, said he urged all people to ‘guard the nation’ against ‘disruptions’ to prevent Burma from falling under ‘alien influence’.

Burma achieved independence from British colonial rule in 1948, under the leadership of its first president,  Sao Shwe Thaik and prime minister U Nu. However, the country has been plagued with political and economic problems under decades of military rule.


Download Mobile App