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Burma: Amnesty demands immediate release of
prisoners with paralysis and another with cerebral
On the day that the Burmese Democracy leader, Aung San
Suu Kyi, celebrates her 63rd birthday, Amnesty International
called on the country's ruling military junta to release two
prisoners of conscience who need urgent medical attention.
Myo Yan Naung Thein is partly paralysed after being tortured
and is held in solitary confinement in poor conditions. His
trial was today - a trial he was unable to attend due to his
health. U Ohn Than has contracted cerebral malaria, which if
untreated, is almost always fatal.
Myo Yan Naung Thein is a member of the 1988 Generation
Students group which played a leading role in last autumn's
so-called Saffron Revolution. He was arrested on 14
December because of his links to activists who filmed the
demonstration and spoke to media outside the country.
After his arrest, he was tortured by Special Branch police and
by members of the government-linked paramilitary group
Swan-Ar-Shin. He was severely beaten around the head and
abdomen. His head injuries led to paralysis down the left side
of his body and he can no longer walk unaided.
after a grossly unfair trial. He was punished for staging a solo
protest against the Burmese government in front of the US
Embassy in Rangoon on 23 August 2007.
He is suffering from cerebral malaria, which is said to be at an
advanced stage. The disease has a high fatality rate. In an
attempt to cover up the critical state of his health, prison
authorities reportedly wrote to U Ohn Than's family in his
name, saying that he no longer needed visitors and requesting
that they transfer money to him instead.
'The Burmese government recently made a promise to the
United Nations that any prisoner who needs special medical
treatment would get it. These cases expose that lie.
'These cases reflect the totally inadequate state of healthcare
in Burmese prisons as well as the prevalence of torture and
Myo Yan Naung Thein's request to see a neurologist has been
denied, and instead he has been punished by being placed in
solitary confinement in a cell specially designed to hold
prisoners with psychological problems - real or purported - in
Insein prison in the former capital, Rangoon. The cell was
damaged in the recent cyclone and rain now comes in through
the leaking roof.
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