Min Ko Naing, the jailed student leader who played a pivotal role in the 1988 and 2007 uprisings in Burma, has been moved from his cell in the remote Kengtung prison toRangoon’s notorious Insein jail.
It follows similar transfers of other renowned political prisoners in the country in recent days as speculation mounts that the government will announce an amnesty of high-profile inmates.
Rumours are circulating Rangoon however that Min Ko Naing will be redirected from Insein to another jail. If true, it suggests he may not be included in the release, which had been originally mooted for Monday this week.
Also included in prison transfers in recent days are Shan leader Khun Htun Oo and prominent monk Ashin Gambira. Both have been relocated from jails near to the China border to ones closer to home.
Rights groups say the sentencing of inmates to lengthy terms in prisons far removed from their families is tantamount to psychological torture, an issue compounded by the fact that visiting relatives are often a prisoner’s chief source of medicine.
Gambira’s sister told DVB last week that she feared the 32-year-old was in mental and physical decline following bouts of torture and maltreatment since his sentencing in 2008. He is said to be suffering from fits.
Min Ko Naing was arrested along with other 88 Generation Students’ leaders in August 2007 for staging protests against a hike in fuel prices that developed into the infamous September 2007 uprising. He is serving a 65-year sentence.
His group, known as the 88 Generation Students, earlier this month announced that it may seek official status as a political or philanthropic organisation.