FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
Prisoners with life or death sentences – or President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi – will not be allowed to receive visitors despite most prisons in Burma resuming visits on Oct. 24. Family visits to prisons in Burma had been suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns began in 2020.
On Oct. 25, Thayarwady prison authorities told an unnamed minister, currently held as a prisoner, that he should not get his hopes up upon receiving news of the resumption of family visits to prisons the day before. Superiors ordered a ban on any visitors for jailed ministers and those with death sentences. A former political prisoner who was recently released from Taungoo Prison said that the authorities told him that President Win Myint will also be denied visitors.
“I spent the whole day in front of the prison on Oct. 25 trying to find out who came to visit the president. I did not see anyone come until the evening. So, I approached one of the prison staff and asked about it. The staff said that the jailed president and ministers will not be allowed to meet with visitors,” said the former political prisoner.
“Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun and Brigadier General Yan Naung Soe, who were recently jailed at the prison, are also not allowed to receive visitors,” he added.
Prison visitors must present the original, and a copy, of their household registration list, as well as an ID card. This is to prove that they are, in fact, a relative of the prisoner. They must also present letters of recommendation from their ward administrator, and local police station. They must have a COVID-19 vaccination certificate issued less than one week prior to the scheduled prison visit.
Prisoners’ family members have reported facing difficulties meeting the requirements as it costs K50,000 ($23.78 USD) to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination certificate.
Nearly 300 people have been sentenced to life imprisonment, 120 political prisoners have been sentenced to death, and 43 have been sentenced to death in absentia since the 2021 military coup, states the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, and other leaders in the National League for Democracy (NLD) government have been held by the military in prisons across Burma since February 1, 2021.