NLD party patron Win Htein transferred to Mandalay’s Obo Prison 

National League for Democracy (NLD) party patron Win Htein—sentenced to 20 years in prison for sedition—was transferred from a Naypyitaw detention centre to Obo Prison in Mandalay on Tuesday. 

The 80-year-old was sent to Mandalay immediately after testifying on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi in one of 11 cases laid against the State Counsellor by the junta that seized power on February 1. 

Suu Kyi is accused of violating Section 25 of the Disaster Management Law for greeting a crowd of NLD supporters before the 2020 general elections, which took place during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Win Htein, who was present at the event in question, testified that they only interacted with the public in accordance with Covid-19 public health restrictions. 

There have been reports that Suu Kyi’s legal team has been trying to get Win Htein to testify as a witness in other cases, but the military council has restricted her team’s right to disclose information. 

Win Htein was arrested three days after the coup after speaking to reporters and releasing a statement criticising the military and its chief, Min Aung Hlaing, for the attempted takeover of the country. 

Myint Thwin, his lawyer, described Win Htein as “mentally strong,” despite suffering from multiple health conditions. 

Win Htein requires a regular oxygen supply and the use of a wheelchair. It is not known if he has been receiving regular medical care for ailments including hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroidism and prostatitis. 

“We are going to send him medications tomorrow and we are also going to obtain power of attorney to appeal his case [in Mandalay],” Myint Thwin told Myanmar Now on Wednesday. 

“We are going to continue to appeal until the end so that there is a record that [the charge] is not in accordance with the law,” he added. 

Win Htein’s legal team is planning to appeal to the Mandalay regional court and the Union-level Supreme Court, but no further information about the process was available at the time of reporting. 

Win Htein was sentenced on October 29 within a closed court created inside the Naypyitaw corrections department by judge Ye Lwin of the Dekkhina District court. 

“This is as we expected. It’s not a surprise, but it’s a sad and outrageous thing to hear about this ridiculous sentence,” Win Htein’s daughter, Chit Su Win Htein, 35, told Myanmar Now at the time. “The perpetrators of this injustice will be held accountable,” she said.

Once a member of the Myanmar military, Win Htein was forced to retire from the armed forces in 1976 after being accused of involvement in a plot to assassinate then dictator Ne Win. 

He went on to work as a businessman until 1988, when he became close with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi after an introduction from Tin Oo, the former military commander-in-chief who was also forced to retire in the late 1970s and later helped found the NLD. 

As Suu Kyi emerged as the most prominent leader of the democratic uprising in 1988, Win Htein took responsibility for her security at protests. He was arrested for his political activity in 1989 and spent the majority of the next two decades in prison before being freed in 2010. 

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