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Amnesty International calls for prisoner release

Jun 26, 2008 (DVB), Rights group Amnesty International has called on the military regime in Burma to release political prisoners Myo Yan Naung Thein and U Ohn Than immediately to allow them to seek urgent medical attention.

In an urgent action released last week, the group said that Myo Yan Naung Thein was partly paralysed after being tortured and was being held in solitary confinement in poor conditions, while U Ohn Than had reportedly contracted cerebral malaria, which is almost always fatal if left untreated.

"They both are innocent and shouldn't have been arrested in the first place," said Haider Kikabhoy from AI's Southeast Asia team.

"Myo Yan Naung Thein is almost paralysed in the lower part of his body and U Ohn Than is suffering from cerebral malaria," Kikabhoy continued.

"They haven't been given proper treatment even though they are in need of urgent medical attention, and that's why we are calling for their immediate release."

Myo Yan Naung Thein is a member of the 1988 Generation Students group which played a leading role at the start of the mass protests in Burma in August 2007.

He has been held in Burma's notorious Insein prison since he was arrested on 14 December 2007 for his links to activists who filmed the demonstrations and spoke to media outside the country.

Myo Yan Naung Thein was hospitalized for two weeks in May. However, the treatment failed to improve his condition, and when he asked to see a neurologist, he was punished by being placed in solitary confinement.

Authorities sentenced U Ohn Than to life imprisonment on 2 April after a grossly unfair trial for staging a solo protest in front of the US Embassy in Rangoon on 23 August 2007.

U Ohn Than was initially held in Insein prison, but since his sentencing he has been moved three times. He is now in Khamti prison in Sagaing Division in north-western Burma.

He is suffering from cerebral malaria, which is said to be at an advanced stage. During his detention, U Ohn Than has also suffered from hypertension and kidney stone problems.

Haider told DVB that as well as calling on the military regime for the immediate release of Myo Yan Naung Thien and U Ohn Than, Amnesty International would increasingly advocate to the international community including the UN Human Rights Council, China, Russia and ASEAN countries for the release of all political prisoners in Burma.

Reporting by Moe Aye

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