Renowned NLD politician from Mandalay freed

Win Mya Mya, a well-known elected parliamentarian from Myanmar’s ousted ruling party, was released from prison on Friday morning after serving time in Mandalay’s Obo Prison.

The 74-year-old politician, who was also deputy chair of the Mandalay branch of the National League for Democracy (NLD), was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in June 2022 over a charge of incitement under Section 505a of the Penal Code. She was arrested in Mandalay on February 27, 2021, and spent more than two years in Obo.

Speaking to Myanmar Now after her release, she said she is in good health and has been back home in Mandalay.

“There has been some occasional knee and joint pain,” she said.

She was not among the more than 2,153 prisoners freed as part of an amnesty announced by the Myanmar junta on May 3 in commemoration of the Buddhist Vesak holiday, even though her sentence had already been reduced for good conduct, and her release date was nearing. 

Most of those convicted of incitement who were released in the amnesty had nearly served their full sentences.  

“I remained buoyant the whole time because I had made up my mind since I was put in prison that I would go home if [the military] released me and stay there if [they] didn’t,” Win Mya Mya told Myanmar Now on Friday.

Nine days before she was detained, she had joined a massive anti-coup protest near the Chinese consulate in Mandalay. As many as 100,000 people, including public employees and members of farm, labour and student unions, took part in the gathering.

Among the politicians currently held in Obo Prison are Dr Zaw Myint Maung, Mandalay’s ousted chief minister and vice-chair of the NLD, who has also been suffering from leukaemia since 2019; party patron Win Htein; Mandalay mayor Ye Lwin, lawyer Ywet Nu Aung who represented them, and members of the NLD’s regional cabinet. 

Win Mya Mya has been imprisoned a number of times since she first became active in politics during Myanmar’s nationwide uprising against military rule in 1988.

As one of the few Muslim candidates in the 2020 election, she was targeted by nationalists ahead of the polls, but won a parliamentary seat representing Mandalay’s Sintgaing Township. The military rejected the NLD’s landslide victory in that election and staged a coup on February 1, 2021, claiming voter fraud had been committed.

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