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Burmese activists Myint Myint Aye, Khin Mi Mi Khine and Thant Zin Htike were released from Paungde prison in Pegu division on Tuesday morning after the regional high court upheld their appeal against charges they were facing at a township level court.
Speaking to DVB on Tuesday shortly after her release, Myint Myint Aye, whose health was seriously in question during the strike, said the Pegu divisional court on Monday accepted the three defendants’ appeal and dropped the charges at the Nattalin Township Court that they faced for helping farmers in Nattalin and Paungde townships protest against land grabs by the army and the police – under the Law Relating to the Forming of Organisations.
“During our 11-day hunger strike that began on 13 December, we were given regular medical check-ups by prison doctors and they suggested giving us glucose drips which we refused – we turned down all medical assistance from them,” said Myint Myint Aye.
“On [Monday] afternoon, the regional high court’s chief justice accepted our appeal against the charges at the township court and decided to drop the case – we decided to accept intravenous drips after being informed of that.”
The group began their hunger strike in Paungde Prison demanding a verdict by the high court on their trial which had been ongoing for over six months and saw around 20 court hearings. They initially filed an appeal at a district level court but decided to take it to the regional high court after being rejected. They began their hunger strike on 13 December after the high court failed to make a ruling on their appeal.
Myint Myint Aye said she believed she and her colleagues were released as a result of their hunger strike.
“I don’t think the case would have been settled so soon if we didn’t stage the hunger strike – the court was postponing hearings again and again,” she said.
“Despite claims that Burma is now heading towards democratic reforms, the process is progressing rather slowly,” she said. “I don’t buy the claim that there is democracy in Burma unless workers and farmers are granted freedom and decent livelihoods.”