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Three farmers’ rights activists have been on hunger strike in Pegu division’s Paungde prison since Friday, 13 December, protesting their detention.
Myint Myint Aye, Khin Mi Mi Khine and Thant Zin Htet have been in custody for over six months without bail, awaiting a verdict after being charged under Section 6 of the 1988 Law relating to Forming of Organisations. The three activists were arrested in June of this year for assisting farmers in Nattalin township, Pegu division, in organising a protest against land confiscation.
After attending more than 20 hearings for the case in Nattalin Township Court, last week the group vowed to stage a hunger strike if no verdict was reached by 13 December. Myint Myint Aye’s younger brother, Toe Lay, said that they went ahead with the hunger strike as planned as no sentence was passed by the end of day on Friday.
“They presented their argument at the Pegu Division Court against the charges – the court has yet to make a decision. There’s still no verdict, so they have gone ahead with the hunger strike,” said Toe Lay.
The group previously made the demand for a verdict to district-level courts, to no avail. Their lawyer Aung Thein said that they have resorted to a hunger strike because the divisional court has failed to respond to their case.
“The closing arguments were heard on 20 November but the court is yet to pass a verdict,” said Aung Thein.
The prisoners have been on hunger strike for four days now. Rumours have circulated that they were in poor health and the prison’s officials have been trying to give them an intravenous drip but only one of them accepted.
Last week President Thein Sein met with praise for pardoning 41 political prisoners as part of his pledge earlier this year to eliminate all prisoners of conscience from Burma’s jails by the end of 2013. DVB later reported that at least two people freed in the amnesty were re-jailed the same day.