For Immediate Release Monday 18th August 2008
Prisoner Release Must Be Priority For Gambari
Conditions Worsening for Burma’s Political Prisoners – Medical Treatment Denied
The Burma Campaign UK today called on UN Envoy Ibrahim Gambari to make the release of political prisoners a top priority during his visit to Burma this week.
The Burma Campaign UK is increasingly concerned by the worsening treatment for many of Burma’s 2,000 political prisoners. It has received reports from sources in Burma that the regime is now confining political prisoners to their cells without exercise periods, and is stopping families from bringing them extra food and other supplies to top up the meagre food rations. Most seriously, the regime appears to be systematically denying medical treatment to political prisoners.
“The release of political prisoners will be the benchmark by which Gambari and Ban Ki-moon will be judged,” said Wai Hnin, Political Prisoners Campaigner at Burma Campaign UK. “It is a normal first step when a country enters into political reform. If the regime are genuine about their claims they will reform, they should release all political prisoners immediately.”
The Burma Campaign UK is particularly concerned by what appears to be a systematic policy of denying medical treatment for political prisoners. Recent examples include:· Earlier this year Aung San Suu Kyi’s doctor was not allowed to visit her for three months.· Blocking Min Ko Naing from receiving treatment for an eye infection and a foot condition.· Refusing medical treatment to Myo Yan Naung Thein, who is suffering from partial paralysis. · Blocking adequate treatment and access to doctors to Mya Aye. Mya Aye is one of the 88 Generation leaders, and has a heart condition, having previously had a heart attack. He is kept in a small cell without adequate ventilation, which is causing him breathing problems.
Burma’s political prisoners in Rangoon’s Insein Jail are held in 8 by 12 foot cells with iron bars at the front. There is a small window but it does not provide adequate ventilation in a country where temperatures can top 45°C. An iron pot is provided as a toilet, which is emptied once a day. Wooden beds are infested with bugs, and even pillows are banned.
Political prisoners are fed low quality rice, fish paste and a thin soup made from leaves. Many suffer from health problems linked with poor nutrition.
Another of the 88 Generation leaders, Ko Ko Gyi, has a digestive problem and has lost his appetite because he has to use a bowl as a toilet which sits open in his small cell all day in high temperatures.
“The United Nations Security Council has said the political prisoners should be released, and Gambari and Ban Ki-Moon must make that happen,” said Wai Hnin. “We have had 20 years of envoys going back and forth with nothing to show for it. It is time they delivered concrete results.”
-- Mark FarmanerDirectorBurma Campaign UK28 Charles SqLondonN1 6HT
Mobile: 0794 123 9640Tel: 00 44 (0)207 324 4713Fax: 00 44 (0)207 324 4717E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org://www.burmacampaign.org.uk/