110 prisoners rearrested after being freed as part of amnesty: rights group

October 21st, 2021  •  Author:   Anti-coup protesters (Myanmar)  •  4 minute read
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A released detainee flashes a three-finger salute as he leaves Yangon’s Insein Prison on October 19  

In a statement released on Thursday, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners called the rearrests “a form of torture”  

By Myanmar Now

Of the thousands of prisoners who were released on Monday as part of a mass amnesty, at least 110 have been taken back into custody, according to a rights group documenting the situation of Myanmar’s political prisoners.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) said that it had confirmed 110 cases of detainees who were rearrested almost immediately after they were freed by prison authorities.

Some prisoners were “released then cynically re-arrested as soon as they arrived home. Some others were told they were on the released list, taken to the jail entrance, only to be taken back to prison in the face of additional charges,” the AAPP said in its statement.

The group added that some of those who were released on Monday have since gone into hiding to avoid being rearrested.

Myanmar Now could not independently confirm the AAPP’s figures, but on Tuesday, it reported that an elected MP and 10 other members of the ousted ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), were rearrested moments after their release from prison in Mandalay Region’s Meiktila Township.

It has since been learned that four of the detainees were subsequently released from Meiktila Police Station No. 1, while six others had new charges laid against them. The status of a woman who among the 11 rearrested NLD members was unclear at the time of reporting.

Two of those still in custody—regional MP Lwin Maung Maung and Thet Maung Maung, the NLD’s party secretary for Meiktila District—have been charged under Section 17(1) of the colonial-era Unlawful Associations Act, while three others are facing charges under Section 50j of the Counter-Terrorism Law for allegedly “financing terrorism,” a source close to the group told Myanmar Now.

The sixth person still being held has been charged under Section 436 of the Penal Code with “mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy” for allegedly setting fire to a district education office building, the source added.

In May, the regime declared the ousted lawmakers’ Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), the underground National Unity Government (NUG), and the NUG-backed People’s Defence Force (PDF) to be “terrorist groups”.

The declaration meant that anyone suspected of affiliation with these groups faces up to three years in prison under the Unlawful Associations Act or 10 years to life under the Counter-Terrorism Law.

A woman holds flowers as she waits for a family member outside Insein Prison on October 19  

Win Htut Thawdar, a Yangon-based musician who is also known by his stage name Ito, was among others confirmed to have been rearrested. He was released from Insein Prison and taken back into custody on Tuesday afternoon, according to a source close to his family. He was originally arrested in September for his alleged involvement with individuals charged with illegal possession of explosives.

According to a lawyer who has been assisting political prisoners, 22 detainees who were among 58 released from prison in Mandalay Region’s Myingyan Township on Monday have since been taken back into regime custody.

Meanwhile, eight of the 26 detainees who were released from Magway Prison, three of the 33 freed from Paungde Prison in Bago Region, and two of the 20 released from Loikaw Prison in Kayah (Karenni) State been rearrested, according to local media reports.

In its statement, the AAPP condemned the re-arrest of released detainees as “a form of physical and mental torture, not only to the political detainees, but also their families.”

More than 5,600 individuals were released from prison or had their criminal charges dropped by the junta on Monday—three days after the regime’s leader was barred from attending a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for failing to implement an agreement reached with the regional bloc aimed at deescalating Myanmar’s ongoing political crisis.

Original Post: Myanmar Now