09/25/2008, 00.00
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False Amnesty: Burmese activist arrested 24 hours after release

U Win Htein, member of the National League for Democracy, freed September 23rd and re-arrested yesterday. He was first arrested in 1989 and condemned to 14 years prison in 1996. Confirmation that the release of 9002 prisoners was only “for show”.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Less then 24 hours freedom for a Burmese activist, released from Katha prison on September 23rd: according to reports yesterday on the dissident website Democratic Voice of Burma U Win Htein, member of the National League for Democracy (NLD, led by Aung San Suu Kyi), has been re-arrested.

U Win Htein was released two days ago as part of a general amnesty granted nu the junta in power in Myanmar.  The military regime allowed the release of over 9002 prisoners, but only a small number of them were prisoners of conscience; among the seven activists freed were Burmese author– Aung Soe Myint – and four members of the NLD: Khin Maung Swe, May Win Myint, Than Nyein and Win Htein. Added to this group, Burma’s most famous political prisoner, Win Tin, a 79 year-old dissident journalist who has spent the last 20 years of his life in prison.

News of the junta’s re-arrest comes from relatives close to the NLD member: early yesterday morning an army patrol took U Win Htein from his home returning him to Katha prison. Relatives were informed of the episode and immediately set out from Mandalay towards the capital and hope to be able to meet him over the next few days in prison.

An unnamed official from Katha prison confirmed that Win Htein was back in the prison, but did not give a reason for his arrest. Win Htein, 67, a former captain in the army, was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment on 21 May 1996. He had previously been imprisoned from 1989 to 1995. During his two prison terms, he spent more than a year in Katha prison, another year in Mandalay and nine years in Myingyan.

In short, no concessions for Burmese dissidents; the release of 9002 people from prison, among them 7 dissidents, had given reason to hope for an improvement in individual freedom.  With this latest arrest order for Win Htein, the junta has once again clarified that that individual freedom, and more importantly human rights, are not the nation’s political agenda.


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