A senior reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma who was imprisoned this month has been taken from his cell in Insein prison, possibly in lieu of a transfer to a remote jail, his brother says.
No warning about the transfer was given to the family of Maung Maung Zeya, who was sentenced in early February to 13 years in prison after being caught photographing the aftermath of the Rangoon bombings in April 2010.
His older brother, Dewa, claims he only learnt that Maung Maung Zeya had left Insein during a visit to the Rangoon prison on Tuesday.
“Now we don’t know where he is and it makes it difficult for the family,” he told DVB. “I’ve heard stories about prisoners being selectively sent to remote prisons and now we are actually experiencing it ourselves.”
A source close to Insein prison said that the 58-year-old may now be en route to Mandalay prison, from where he will be sent to one of Burma’s many far-flung jails.
More than 25 media workers are among the nearly 2,200 political prisoners in Burma, which has some of the world’s strictest media laws. Transfers to remote jails are an additional means of punishment for many, given the often unfeasible distances needed to travel for family members, who are often an inmate’s only source of medicine and outside contact.
Dewa says he had gone to the prison to attend a court hearing for Sithu Zeya, the son of Maung Maung Zeya, who was arrested alongside his father and later sentenced to eight years.
The 21-year-old, also a DVB reporter, is facing additional charges and remains in Insein prison, where his family claims he has been tortured.
Nine people died in the 15 April 2010 grenade attacks in Rangoon, making it the most deadly incident of its kind in the former capital in years. The alleged culprit, Phyo Wei Aung, is facing murder charges.
Five more youths also arrested in connection with the attacks were yesterday handed lengthy prison sentences. Bo Bo Thein, Thaung Htike Oo, Myo Min Thu. Yan Naung Soe and Thaw Zin, were each given a total of eight years, while Bo Bo Thein had an additional three years added for drugs charges.
His father, Han Thein, said that “there were no witnesses at all [to support the accusations], apart from the police report resulting from interrogation”.