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Despite cease-fire agreement, NMSP prisoners not released


Sankhalapuri (Mizzima) – Political prisoners of the New Mon State Party (NMSP) have yet to be released, despite three requests to the government, say party officials.
Delegates of the New Mon State Party and Burmese government agreed to a five-point peace program on February 1, 2012. They have met three times to discuss peace. Photo: Mizzima
During each Union and state-level peace meeting with the government, the NMSP has asked government negotiators for the release of its members, said NMSP delegation leader Nai Rosa.

“I presented this issue of releasing our imprisoned party members including Nai Myo Thway and Nai Yekka to government minister Aung Min in person when we signed a peace agreement with them. Aung Min assured us that he would settle this issue,” Nai Rosa said.

The NMSP held talks on December 22, 2011, in Sankalaburi, Kanchanaburi Province; state-level talks in Mawlamyine on February 1, 2012, and a Union-level talk on February 25, 2012, when the initial peace agreement was signed.

NMSP peace broker Nai Soe Myint said team leader Aung Min assured them, “the NMSP members would be released automatically when the party becomes a legal party after signing the peace agreement.”

Union peacemaking leader Aung Min said on December 22, 2011, during the initial talks, that the Burmese government “had a plan to release political prisoners and ethnic leaders but that they would wait until either Independence Day, which falls on January 4, or Union Day, which falls on February 12,” said NMSP General-Secretary Nai Han Thar.

NMSP foreign relations department head Nai Han Thar Pein Khai said the government should release the imprisoned members of all ethnic armed groups because it would be a good step for confidence building during peace negotiations and a step toward national reconciliation.

“We were very happy to see the release of Mahn Nyein Maung recently. This was a good step for peace. Now they should release our party members too. We will present this issue again at the next round of talks,” he said.

Karen National Union (KNU) central committee member Mahn Nyein Maung was released on Monday by a presidential executive order while he was serving a life term in Insein Prison.

Prominent NMSP members Nai Yekka and Nai Myo Thway are serving life imprisonment. The former SPDC government arrested them on July 17, 2003, along with lawyer Aye Myint from the Lanpyakye group and Eleven sports journal editor Zaw Thet Htwe. They were charged with high treason and sentenced to death on November 28, 2003, but their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment after an appeal to a higher court.

Nai Yekkha is in Insein Prison; Nai Myo Thway was transferred to Tharawady Prison from Insein Prison in 2009.

According to the initial peace agreement signed on February 25 by the NMSP and the government, political talks must be held within 45 days of the signing of the initial peace agreement.
 
The Kachin’s last stand
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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