07 Oct Former prisoner talks after Presidential pardon

Written by Mizzima Published in Myanmar Read 2291 times
Former Brigadier General Thein Swe who was released from Myingyan Prison in Mandalay region on October 7, 2014. Photo: Mizzima
Former Brigadier General Thein Swe who was released from Myingyan Prison in Mandalay region on October 7, 2014. Photo: Mizzima

Former Brigadier General Thein Swe, one of the 3,073 prisoners pardoned by President U Thein Sein on October 7 spoke to Mizzima after his release from Myingyan Prison.

U Thein Swe, who was a senior Military Intelligence officer, was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison in April 2005, under claims of corruption.

U Thein Swe told Mizzima that living conditions in prison had been improving thanks to the intervention and monitoring of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

He said prisoners were allowed to read newspapers and watch television until 9.30pm but foreign news and the radio were off-limits.

Asked what he would do now, U Thein Swe replied, "As I am getting old, I will dedicate most of my time to religious practices, I am no longer interested in politics."

He thanked officials including President U Thein Sein for his release.

The 2004 purge of military intelligence also saw the head of Military Intelligence, Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt, arrested. He was released from house arrest in January 2012.

Mizzima chief executive, U Myat Swe, who was at the time working at the The Myanmar Times, as a co-founder of the media outlet was also arrested as a result of the purge. He served eight years before being released in April 2013.

Reports of witnesses and official sources say that prisoners have been released from a number of jails across Myanmar including; Pakkukoo, Kalay, Insein and Ohbo prisons.

In recent years, there has been debate as to whether those imprisoned in the purge should be considered political prisoners.

President Thein Sein pardoned some 3,073 people, including 58 foreign nationals, citing "stability of the state, the rule of law" and "humanitarian" grounds, according to a Facebook postby Information Minister Ye Htut on October 7.

On October 6, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a non-profit human rights group, which released their latest tally of prisoners that said Myanmar continues to have 80 activists jailed and 130 activists currently awaiting trial despite the claims of the Nay Pyi Taw government that there are virtually no more political prisoners incarcerated.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 October 2014 17:21