Imprisoned hunger striker sent to psychiatric hospital

Imprisoned hunger striker sent to psychiatric hospital

A farmer who was imprisoned in Maubin prison for the murder of a policeman during land rights protests in 2013 has been sent to a psychiatric hospital after staging a hunger strike.

Maung Soe was sent to Ywathargyi hospital on the fourth day of a hunger strike after authorities presented more charges against him.

Maung Soe was one of hundreds of villagers from Maletto, Irrawaddy Division, who in early 2013 were demonstrating for the return of seized land when the protest turned violent. A clash between farmers and police left one policeman dead, with numerous injuries on both sides. Maung Soe was found guilty of the murder of the policeman in April 2014, and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Maung Soe told DVB that he was being held alongside patients with serious mental health conditions.

“The physician from Maubin prison asked a doctor from Maubin hospital to assess me for mental illnesses. Then I was sent to this hospital. The problem is that while I’m here, there should be two family members and two policemen to guard me, but no police from Maubin followed.”

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Ohnmar San, the wife of Maung Soe, told DVB that her husband became frustrated after a lengthy and faltering trial for another crime, saying: “My husband was sentenced for three years and is facing another case which has seen 32 trials. The court case was dismissed at the 32nd hearing after another person was arrested. Afterwards, they said that actually, the case will be tried again from the beginning.

“My husband could not tolerate this, and entered into a hunger strike. They accused him of being insane, and sent him to a hospital for the insane,” she said, adding that he had not been officially processed at the hospital yet because of Thingyan (Burmese new year) celebrations.

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