Hnin May Aung (aka Nobel Aye), a prominent female political prisoner in Burma, has been denied visits by her family for calling on the Burmese government to withdraw a public statement claiming that the country has no political prisoners.
Relatives told The Irrawaddy that when they arrived at Monywa Prison in Sagaing Region on July 7, they were told that they could not see Nobel Aye because she had broken prison rules.
|Hnin May Aung (aka Nobel Aye) (Photo: AAPP)|
“Her father had no chance to give her the parcel we had prepared for her. When he asked a prison official why he couldn’t see her, he was told that a superior official had instructed them to bar family visits, because if someone breaks the prison rules, they should be punished. But the official didn’t say which rule my daughter broke,” said Nobel Aye’s mother, Aye Myint Than.
Aye Myint Than said that while her husband was waiting to meet with the prison official, he could hear his daughter calling out for her mother, who usually came for prison visits, but was unable to do so on this occasion.
“I’m so worried about her because she is suffering from jaundice. I haven’t been able to sleep well since I heard about her calling for me like that,” she added.
This episode occurred just one day after Nobel Aye submitted a letter to prison officials calling on Vice President Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, Foreign Affairs Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and presidential adviser Ko Ko Hlaing to retract their recent reiteration of the government’s position that the country has no political prisoners.
Nobel Aye is currently serving her second prison term. She was first imprisoned in 1998, when she received a 42-year sentence for engaging in non-violent political activities together with her mother. She was released under an amnesty in July 2005, following the ouster of Gen Khin Nyunt and the disbandment of his military intelligence apparatus.
She was arrested again on Aug 23, 2007 for taking part in a protest led by the 88 Generation Students group following a dramatic hike in fuel prices that later sparked monk-led demonstrations.
Nobel Aye is not the only political prisoner who has spoken out against the government’s claims that there are no political detainees in Burma. Nay Phone Latt, a blogger who is serving a 12-year prison sentence in Pa-an Prison in Karen State, also opposed the government officials’ statements.
“They [political prisoners] can’t accept this because they have to serve their full prison terms even after other prisoners were granted a remission,” said Aye Aye Than, mother of Nay Phone Latt, who last visited her son in early July.
Meanwhile, five political prisoners in Meiktila Prison in Mandalay Region have also sent a letter to Burma’s new president, ex-Gen Thein Sein, calling for their immediate release and a public examination of their cases.
According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, there are 1,994 political prisoners currently serving sentences Burma’s prisons, of whom 145 are women.-Irrawaddy news