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KNU seeks release of KNU-connected prisoners

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Imprisoned members of the Karen National Union (KNU) and innocent civilians who might have aided the KNU should be freed following the signing of a cease-fire agreement between the KIO and the Burmese government, say KNU officials.
KNU peace delegate Saw David Taw, chief of the KNU judicial department, speaks at a press conference on January 12, 2012. Photo: MizzimaKNU Peace Building Committee Secretary Pado Saw David Taw said that a KNU prisoners’ list would be given to the government identifying people imprisoned under charges involving the unlawful associations act, bomb blast cases, murder and other offenses.
“We will demand this especially for those who provided food to us on the frontlines, who carried our belongings, and hosted us at their homes. They are in prisons for unlawful association. We want them back because they are our benefactors, and they provided for us,” David Taw told Mizzima.

After signing a cease-fire agreement in Pa-an on January 12, the KNU delegation proceeded to Naypyitaw where government Peace Making Committee leader and Railway Minister Aung Min reportedly asked them to compile the list of prisoners and send it to the government.

“Railway Minister Aung Min said they would work for the release as much as they could,” David Taw said. The list is still being finalized.

The Thai-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPP-B) said that there were 69 prisoners in various prisons such as Taungoo, Insein, Thayet and Shwebo in connection with the KNU. Most are in Taungoo Prison.

“Some of them are just villagers, but they were charged with unlawful association and having contact with unlawful association groups. And also some of them were charged with murder, bombings, etc. This list of 69 people is just the list we can access,” said Bo Kyi, a joint-secretary of the AAPP. The prison terms range from three years to life in prison.

National League for Democracy party central executive committee member Nai Nai said about 10 prisoners involved in KNU cases had been released under the four previous amnesty orders issued by President Thein Sein. About 10 other prisoners including KNU leader Pado Mahn Nyein Maung are still in Insein Prison.

Pado Mahn Nyein Maung will be released soon, according to KNU officials. He went missing in July last year while he was visiting China. He was then detained and sent to Rangoon from Kunming, China, and later charged under the Immigration Act, holding a forged travel document and being a member of an unlawful group. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Government minister Aung Min tried to release and return Pado Mahn Nyein Maung with the KNU delegation when he met with them in Naypyitaw, but paperwork prevented his release in time.

According to the KNU, it will meet again with the government peace delegation in about 45 days to go over points in the peace agreement.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 January 2012 22:45 )  
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Since October this year, Burma has been in a state of civil war, with fighting between Burmese military and armed ethnic rebels. The ruling junta started a crackdown on these armed groups.

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