Three-year sentences handed to family of toddler held in Yangon’s Insein Prison

The mother and grandmother of a three-year-old girl who have all been held hostage in Yangon’s Insein Prison since last year were handed the maximum sentence for incitement on Thursday by a junta court inside the jail. 

Along with the toddler Su Myat Zaw, 56-year-old Daw Kathy and 30-year-old Tin May Oo were arrested on March 30, 2021 when the child’s father and Tin May Oo’s husband, Min Zaw Oo—a janitor at the the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC)—could not be located by the junta. He was wanted for participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement’s general strike following last February’s coup. 

“The judge handed them each a three-year prison sentence. However, their days of detention will be subtracted from their terms,” a source close to the court told Myanmar Now. 

The women were convicted of violating Section 505a of the Penal Code. 

The prosecutor in the case was identified as lawyer Nyo Nyo Min, and the judge was Aye Thet Maw from Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township, according to another source in the legal network. 

Plaintiff Myo Thant, also a YCDC employee, reportedly never attended any of the court hearings.

The prison court rejected the family’s request for release on January 6. 

Daw Kathy, who is Min Zaw Oo’s mother, had been in the prison hospital for more than 10 days at the time of reporting due to multiple chronic health conditions including diabetes and kidney and liver issues. 

One of her other adult children who recently saw Daw Kathy in prison after nearly a year apart told Myanmar Now that she is having difficulties looking after herself in detention and recently suffered a fall. 

“She’s innocent. She hasn’t even done anything. But there’s nothing I could do apart from being sad,” her daughter said. “Her blood sugar is skyrocketing and she said she’s always out of breath. She had lost a lot of weight as well. She can’t even stand anymore and her hands are always shaking.”

“She told me she didn’t want to be in prison anymore. She hugged me for a long time. I don’t think I even remember her face anymore,” she said.

The detainees’ family members requested that the verdict in the case be expedited out of concern for Daw Kathy’s health, the source close to the prison court told Myanmar Now. 

Her granddaughter, Su Myat Zaw, turned three on December 18 last year and has spent nearly one-third of her life imprisoned in Insein, where she is believed to be the notorious detention centre’s youngest inmate. Her mother has five other children, the whereabouts of whom are not known, the court source said. 

The military has repeatedly detained relatives in lieu of the intended targeted dissidents when the latter cannot be apprehended. In response to criticism for this practice, the junta has stated that they are only taking action against those who have broken their laws. 

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