Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NLD MPs to call for release of political prisoners

Wednesday, 11 April 2012 14:09 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) –  The National League for Democracy (NLD) MPs-elect say they will put forward a motion in Parliament for the release of all remaining political prisoners in Burma. About 30 out of 43 NLD MPs-elect are former political prisoners.

The new Burmese Parliament building in Naypyidaw.
A former political prisoner, NLD Lower House MP-elect Dr. Zaw Myint Maung of Kyaukpadaung Township said: “There should be no political prisoners in prisons.” MPs in previous sessions of Parliament have made similar motions, which have failed for lack of support.

Among the key NLD campaign positions, he said, was the rule of law, and the release of political prisoners is fundamentally related to the rule of law in a democratic society.  MPs need to air the issue in Parliament, he said, and a full debate would be a test of political openness.

Meanwhile, NLD MP-elect Phyo Zeya Thaw of Pobbathiri Township, who is a former political prisoner, and NLD Lower House MP-elect Win Htein of Meiktila Township constituency, also a former political prisoner, are preparing for the opening of Parliament on April 23. On April 19 and 20, a meeting of MPs-elect will be held at NLD headquarters in Rangoon to prepare for the coming parliamentary session.

According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma [AAPPB], there are 959 (confirmed and unconfirmed) political prisoners across Burma.

Among them, the profiles of 494 political prisoners have been confirmed, said the AAPPB. Of the remaining 465 prisoners, they are still under investigation to confirm their status, Tate Naing, the AAPPB secretary, told Mizzima.

According to information compiled in January by the NLD, there are 300 political prisoners in Burma. Different estimates are based on access to information and different definitions of political prisoners.

NLD spokesman Ohn Kyaing said earlier: “The people who were allegedly involved in bomb attacks, the people who were involved in the ‘Saffron Revolution,’ those who were charged under section 17 [1] [the Unlawful Associations Act] and section 17 [2] in Taungoo; those who were charged under section 5(j) of the Emergency Provisions Act and those who were charged under (section 505 [causing disaffection to the State]) of the Penal Code are on our list of political prisoners. And some people were arrested for helping [political activists]. They are also on our list.”

On August 26, 2011, Lower House MP Thein Nyunt (New National Democratic Party] of Thingangyun Township constituency put forward a motion urging the president to grant general amnesty to prisoners of conscience. The National Unity Party, Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party, All Mon Region Democracy Party and Chin Progressive Party all supported the motion.

The NLD has said that it will also work to revoke the laws used to arrest and jail political prisoners.

Laws subject to revocation are section 5 (j) of the 1950 Emergency Provisions Act and sections of other laws concerning subversive acts.

Lower House MP Thein Nyunt put forward a motion calling for the revocation of the Emergency Provisions Act in the second regular session of the Union Assembly convened in September 2011. He received eight supporting votes.

The Parliament will reconvene in Naypyitaw on April 23. In Parliament, there are 343 Union Solidarity and Development Party MPs [52.3 per cent], 116 military representatives [25 per cent], 42 NLD MPs [6.4 per cent], and 105 MPs [16.3 per cent] from other political parties or independents.

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