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Imprisoned female activist ‘too weak to speak’

Nov 6, 2009 (DVB), The health of a female activist serving a five-year prison sentence in central Burma is rapidly deteriorating, according to family members who visited her last week.

Nemo Hlaing is one of more than 150 political prisoners in Burma suffering from poor health, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners , Burma (AAPP).

Her sister, Su Su Hlaing, told DVB yesterday that she had been ill since 6 October but that the family was notified only last week.

"We tried to visit her as soon as we got the telegraph on 27 October but we could not make it there until 31 October," said Su Su Hlaing.

The 88 Generation Students group and National League for Democracy (NLD) party member was sentenced in June 2008 on four separate charges.

She had initially been treated by a prison doctor but was barred from leaving her cell. The doctor had reportedly given her antibiotics to treat a gastric complaint but with no result.

"After three days of no improvement, the doctor changed the diagnosis and gave her six injections for typhoid but her fever never went down," said Su Su Haling, whose mother had visited the prison.

"My sister doesn't know what is happening to her; she asked the doctor but was not given an answer. She is now too weak to speak."

Nemo Hlaing had previously suffered from gout and heart disease, her sister said, and the family was anxious to get her treated.

41 political prisoners were sentenced in October, bringing the total number of detained activists, journalists, politicians and lawyers in Burma to 2,168, AAPP said.

On Wednesday it was announced that former Burmese foreign minister Win Aung, who had served until 2004 under the ousted prime minister, General Khin Nyunt, had died in Rangoon's Insein prison. The 65-year-old is the only former government official to have died in detention.

Only basic health care is provided inside Burmese prisons, and prisoners have complained of having to bribe doctors to give them treatment.

Visiting family members are often the only providers of medication, and illnesses such as diarrhea and malaria spread easily in the dirty and humid conditions.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw


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