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AAPP Requests the Early Release of Terminally Ill Political Prisoner

By Assistance Association for Political Prisoners - Burma  •  September 16, 2011

AAPP strongly urges the U Thein Sein government the immediate and unconditional release of a critically ill political prisoner. Ko Zaw Lin Tun, a leading member of the All Burma Student Federation Union (ABSFU), is currently suffering from a barrage of grave health conditions, including: tuberculosis, hepatitis B, gallstones, and heart disease. He is only 8 years into a 20 year prison sentence.

Although Ko Zaw Lin Tun has been in critical condition since July, he has not been allowed external hospitalization until 1 September. Upon his transfer to Insein public hospital he was found to be suffering from both stomach and liver cancer. He has been unable to eat, stand, or walk properly for over two months.

His friends state that their only wish is for Ko Zaw Lin Tun to be released from prison so he can be with his loved ones. U Htay, a close friend, has submitted an early release appeal to President Thein Sein on 9 September and plans to submit a second one with Ko Zaw Lin Tun’s mother’s signature. The appeals, in line with domestic regulations stating any prisoner suffering from a disease likely to prove fatal if the prisoner remains in prison is entitled to an early release, have so far gone unanswered. His mother, 80 years old and suffering from heart disease, has yet to be notified of her son’s deteriorating health condition.

“Ko Zaw Lin Tun was transferred to a public hospital at the final hour and it’s already late. Dragging out Ko Zaw Lin Tun’s suffering by denying him appropriate medical treatment amounts to torture. His continued imprisonment only makes a mockery of purported reforms made by the regime: prison conditions continue to deteriorate, falling desperately short of minimum international standards. It is imperative that the regime’s rhetoric conforms to truth, especially for the political prisoners who are in critical need of basic medical care. Their health situation needs to be regularly monitored and transferred to outside hospitals when needed.” Bo Kyi, Joint Secretary of AAPP said.

Ko Zaw Lin Tun, arrested on 26 September 2003 after reforming the ABFSU, is charged under the Emergency Provisions Act, Unlawful Associations Act, Immigration Act and Forming of Organizations law. He is currently serving his term in Insein, an overcrowded prison notorious for its woefully inadequate health care system; there are only 3 doctors for 10,000 inmates. This is not enough to ensure the delivery of adequate medical care. The number of political prisoners in poor health has been steadily increasing since 2010, from 137 to 164 as of 1 September 2011.

Many of these deaths could have been prevented were it not for the additional barriers political prisoners face in requesting external hospitalization. Prison officials often take common criminals to the local hospital for treatment but are required to seek authorization from higher authorities before allowing political prisoners to seek medical assistance outside the prison, resulting in their waiting to receive treatment for life-threatening and chronic problems. AAPP has documented at least 146 political prisoners’ deaths behind bars due to torture and deplorable prison conditions.

“We are requesting the relevant authorities to show compassion for Ko Zaw Lin Tun by immediately releasing him on medical and humanitarian grounds, so he can have his loved ones by his side in this difficult time.”

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)

For more information: Tate Naing (Secretary): +66 (0) 81 287 8751 Bo Kyi (Joint Secretary): +66 (0) 81 962 8713

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