11 detained NLD members, including one MP, rearrested minutes after their release

Prison authorities in Mandalay Region’s Meiktila Township immediately detained 11 National League for Democracy (NLD) members, including an elected lawmaker, who were released as part of a nationwide amnesty on Monday.

Relatives of the 11 prisoners, who were among 38 set to be freed from Meiktila Prison on Monday, said they were able to see them only briefly before they were taken back into custody.

Ni Ni, the wife of NLD MP Lwin Maung Maung, said her husband was among those who could be seen from the prison gate waiting to be released when he was suddenly taken back inside the prison compound. 

“We could see Ko Lwin Maung Maung and the others as those scheduled to be released were standing in line,” she said, speaking to Myanmar Now on Tuesday.  

“Then they went back inside and were no longer included among those who were released. We heard that they were handcuffed inside the compound and re-arrested,” she added.

Myanmar’s junta announced on Monday that it was planning to free 1,316 convicted detainees and drop charges against an another 4,320 individuals, including some who were still at large, on “humanitarian grounds.” 

The amnesty, which applied to prisoners who had taken part in anti-coup protests, did not include those charged with carrying out alleged terrorist attacks, the regime said.

Lwin Maung Maung, who was elected last year to represent Meiktila’s constituency 1 in Mandalay’s regional legislature, was arrested on the night of April 28 during a brief visit to his home while he was in hiding from regime authorities.

The 38-year-old MP was later sentenced without trial to three years in prison for incitement by a court controlled by the military junta that seized power on February 1.

Lwin Maung Maung is the younger brother of Nyi Nyi Lwin, who is better known by his monastic name, U Gambira. As a leader of the monk-led Saffron Revolution, Gambira was tortured and sentenced to 68 years in prison for his role in the 2007 uprising, but was released in 2012 as part of a general amnesty.

NLD lawmaker Lwin Maung Maung (Supplied) 

According to Ni Ni, the 11 detainees, who also included the NLD’s Meiktila District branch secretary, Thet Maung Maung, were later taken to Meiktila’s main police station.

She said that when she and some other relatives went to the police station on Monday night to inquire about the status of the detainees, they were warned to stay away.

“A plainclothes officer shouted at us, telling us not to ‘mess around.’ The doors of the police station were closed, and we were afraid to stay there after the police shouted at us like that,” she said.

“We heard this morning that they’re not at the police station anymore, but we’re not sure where they were taken,” she added.

Some family members speculated that the detainees had been rearrested in connection with a terrorism case that police in Meiktila opened on October 7.

A relative of Thet Maung Maung, the district party secretary, said that he had heard the new charges included possession of weapons, but added that this was not yet confirmed.

“We haven’t been able to meet with them, so we don’t know the exact charges yet,” he said, speaking to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.

On May 24, the regime declared the NLD, along with the underground National Unity Government and the ousted lawmakers’ Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, to be “unlawful associations”.  

Since then, many NLD supporters already charged with incitement have been accused of committing acts of terrorism for their alleged involvement in the armed resistance movement, which began in May.

It was not clear, however, how such charges could be applied to those who were not in a position to participate in activities related to that movement.

“My son has been in prison for more than five months. How could he possess or make weapons? This should not be happening,” said Lwin Maung Maung’s 72-year-old mother, Daw Ye.

More than 5,600 individuals were released from prison or had their criminal charges dropped by the junta on Monday. In addition to activists, journalists and celebrities, at least one senior NLD official, party spokesperson Monywa Aung Shin, was among those who were freed.

The mass amnesty came three days after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced its decision not to allow the country’s military chief to attend a bloc summit scheduled to begin on October 26. 

The ASEAN chair said the decision was made due to the Myanmar military’s failure to implement the terms of a five-point consensus reached between the regime and the regional grouping in April, including the release of all political prisoners.

The amnesty was widely seen as an attempt to silence international criticism of the regime, which continues to arrest and harass its opponents and members of the media.

Related Articles

Back to top button