by Salai Pi Pi
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 19:45
New Delhi (Mizzima) – While the world remains fixated on the trial of National League for Democracy (NLD) Chairman Aung San Suu Kyi, a veteran politician has called on the international community to press equally hard for the release of the party’s Vice-Chairman, Tin Oo, who is being held under house arrest.
Win Tin, veteran journalist and Central Executive Committee member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), on Tuesday said while monitoring the trial against party leader Aung San Suu Kyi and pressing for her release is important, the international community should also push the military rulers to release Tin Oo.
“I would like to urge the authorities to release him because his five years [detention] is already completed,” Win Tin told Mizzima.
Tin Oo, a retired military General, was arrested along with Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on May 31, 2003, after a brutal attack on their motorcade by a junta-backed mob during a political tour in the town of Depayin in upper Burma.
Win Tin, a former political prisoner himself, said Tin Oo, like Aung San Suu Kyi, has passed more than five years of detention and is thus due to be released.
“There is nothing that we can do except raise our voices for his release,” he added.
Tin Oo, following the brutal attack in Depayin, was initially taken to a prison in Kale Township in Sagaing Division. But in February 2004 he was brought back to Rangoon, where he has remained under house arrest ever since.
Tin Oo, as was the case with Aung San Suu Kyi, is being kept detained under section 10 (b) of the Law Safeguarding the State from Danger and Subversive Elements, which allows the state to detain individuals up to a maximum of five years.
Win Tin said even if the junta counts Tin Oo’s detention date commencing from February 2004, the duration of the sentence is now still more than five years and counting, and hence in violation of Burmese law.
However, the junta, in February 2009, announced the extension of his house arrest for yet another year.
Bo Kyi, co-founder and Joint-Secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), based in Thailand, on Tuesday said that the continued detention of Tin Oo and Aung San Suu Kyi clearly shows the lack of respect for the rule of law in Burma.
“Actually, they [Tin Oo and Suu Kyi] should be the ones to prosecute the authorities for their brutality in Depayin, but it has turned into the opposite. This shows that there is no rule of law in Burma,” Bo Kyi stipulated.
On Sunday, the junta’s Deputy Defense Minister told a regional security meeting in Singapore that the trial against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is being conducted according Burmese law, a domestic affair in which no other states or external parties should interfere.
He said the trial was in keeping with the universal legal principle that no one is above the law; further arguing, “If offenders of the law are not faced with action, anarchy will prevail and there will be a breach of peace and security.”
Tin Oo, an ex-military man, is well respected among soldiers. He was also among the founding members of the National League for Democracy, which won a landslide victory in the 1990 election, the result of which has never been honored by the military.