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Thein Nyunt, independent MP for Thingangyun township and formerly of the National Democratic Force (NDF), expressed optimism after the speaker of the military dominated parliament decided to look into his proposal calling for a political prisoner amnesty.
“The most remarkable thing was that the parliament’s speaker agreed to pass my proposal to the Home Affairs Minister to follow up with the President,” Thein Nyunt said.
MPs were requested to ‘enlist’ on the 26 August for a debate on the issue that is scheduled to take place on Monday 29 August, that would be the first time that a parliament in Burma has discussed such a topic.
“The Home Affairs minister Lieutenant General Ko Ko also expressed that he understood my proposal and the wish of the representatives in the parliament. So I assume the parliament will be able to present a law or an order that will bring happiness for families of political prisoners,” Thein Nyunt told DVB.
However speaker of the upper house or Amyotha Hluttaw, Khin Aung Myint said, in response to a request by the UN rapporteur on human rights, Tomas Ojea Quintana to enact an amnesty, that they would; “be released when they are certain not to disrupt the nation’s stability and peace.”
In response to this, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma’s general secretary Bo Kyi told DVB that: “that there will never be stability in this country if the government continues with the same system so those political inmates will probably remain in prison for the rest of their lives.”
Adding that; “We also needed to specify ‘stability’ and how to measure it but not just by the [government’s] imagination otherwise ‘stability’ would never be achieve.”
Indeed the issue of approximately 2,000 political prisoners continues to be deeply divisive with denial over the issue still prevalent, Thein Nyunt reportedly avoided using the terms ‘political prisoner’ in his proposal, having to use the terminology ‘prisoners of conscience’ instead.
Indeed the Union Chief Justice, Tun Tin Oo reportedly told Quintana that; “There is no prisoner serving a term for his belief, and prisoners are all serving their terms for the crimes they have committed.”
Quintana made his request public in a statement on leaving the country that read; “Of key concern to me and to the international community is the continuing detention of a large number of prisoners of conscience. In my meetings with the Government, I conveyed my firm belief that their release is a central and necessary step towards national reconciliation and would bring more benefit to Myanmar’s (Burma) efforts towards democracy. I reiterate that call now.”
During his trip Quinatana visited Rangoon’s Insein Jail where he met with political prisoners including DVB journalist Sithu Zeya. Who was tortured during interrogation and is in jail serving 8 years, on charges of breaking laws such as the Unlawful Association Act and the Electronics Act.
However Thein Nyunt’s call gave hope to one family member of a father and son considered political detainees; “Both the father and the son are in prison in different locations – my husband is in Taungoo prison [Pegu Division] and my son is Monywa [Sagaing Division.]”
“I and other political prison families are hopeful that our loved ones would be released. I’m going to pay visit my husband and my son in the end of this month – they’ve been in prison for four years already.”