Mahn Nyein Maung, a member of the Karen National Union who was unlawfully detained by the Burmese Government, is currently under trial facing charges under High Treason (122/1 of the penal code) and the Unlawful Associations Act (17/1). Both charges carry heavy sentences that are unwarranted in Mahn Nyein Maungs case: High Treason carries a sentence of life imprisonment and the death penalty and the Unlawful Associations Act carries a sentence of 2 to 7 year imprisonment. The court will deliver its verdict on 13 March 2012.
UPDATE MARCH 13.03.2012
“Mahn Nyein Maung got a life sentence after being found guilty of participating in acts of war against the country and the ruling government, and an additional three years for having connections to an illegal organization. The sentences are to be served consecutively,” said his lawyer Kyee Myint.
“It seems to me that he has been mentally affected by all this,” his lawyer said. “He should see a psychologist and needs medical attention.”
David Takapaw, the vice-president of the KNU, urged the government to release the Karen veteran. He said such a move would help create trust between the two parties [the KNU and the Burmese government], and could play a part in affecting the process of peace and national reconciliation.
“The government promised they would release Mahn Nyein Maung to create trust,” he said. “If not, it will be impossible to reconcile.
“We will wait and see whether they release him in a presidential amnesty,” said Takapaw.
He added that, in the meantime, the KNU would file an appeal against the court decision.
According to the KNU vice-president, a promise was made by government negotiator and Railways Minister Aung Min that Mahn Nyein Maung would be released after sentencing through a presidential amnesty.
During ceasefire discussions in the second week of January, Aung Min said President Thein Sein would make this gesture as a sign of goodwill and a step toward making a peace deal with the Karen rebels, said Takapaw.
Mahn Nyein Maung is a prominent KNU leader and a central committee member of the United Nationalities Federal Council ethnic armed alliance.
He was arrested in July 2011 by Chinese immigration officials in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, after being denied entry to Thailand where he was living in exile. He was then deported from China to Burma where he was taken into custody.
He was originally sentenced to one year imprisonment for breaking immigration laws and possessing a fake passport—later reduced to six months when the prison term had already been served.