Families Have Little Hope of Amnesty

While welcoming Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest, families of Burma’s other political prisoners hold out little hope that their loved ones will soon also be free.

Suu Kyi, the most famous of Burma’s more than 2,000 political prisoners, asked people on Sunday to pray for their release after she was allowed to leave her Rangoon home for the first time in more than seven years.

Ma Nyein, sister-in-law of the popular satirist Zarganar, said she and other members of his family held out little hope that his 35-year prison sentence would end early, pointing out that Suu Kyi had been made to serve her full term.

Zarganar, who is held in Myitkyina prison in Kachin State, was imprisoned because of his involvement in the humanitarian relief effort in the Irrawaddy Delta after Cyclone Nargis devastated the region in May 2008.

Win Maung, father of imprisoned 88 Students Group member Pyone Cho, said Suu Kyi had so much to do now it would be difficult for her to concentrate on working for the release of the political prisoners.

“She has more important issues than politician prisoners,” said Win Maung.
Pyone Cho is serving a 65-year sentence in remote Kawthaung prison in Taninthariyi Division for his involvement in the anti-government uprising in 2007.

Aung Tun, younger brother of the prominent 88 Generation Students Group leader Ko Ko Gyi said there was little Suu Kyi could do to persuade the regime to free the political prisoners.

Like Pyone Cho, Ko Ko Gyi is also serving 65 years sentence, in remote Monghsat prison in Shan State, for his involvement in the anti-government uprising in 2007.

Tate Naing, secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a Burmese human rights group based on the Thai-Burmese border, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the regime had no interest in freeing prisoners who had been working for democracy and human rights.

“The freedom of political prisoners is directly proportional to the political situation inside and outside the country. If the political movement inside the country grows and the international community  exerts more pressure the political prisoners have more chance  of being freed,” said Tate Naing.

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