KyaemonFebruary 13, 20106min1412

The Hindu : News / International : Myanmar frees deputy leader of opposition party

Myanmar’s military government on Saturday freed the 82-year-old deputy leader of the pro-democracy party headed by Aung San Suu Kyi after nearly seven years in detention.

The release of Tin Oo, who helped found the National League for Democracy with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, comes shortly before a U.N. envoy visits the country. Ms. Suu Kyi remains under house arrest.

Mr. Tin Oo spent nearly seven years in prison and under house arrest. The junta had renewed his detention on an annual basis since his arrest in 2003, with his latest term expiring on Saturday.

Reporters saw four officials enter Mr. Tin Oo’s residence, where he had been detained. He later emerged from the building.

The U.N. special envoy to Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, is to arrive on Monday to evaluate its progress on human rights issues. Rights groups say the junta still holds about 2,100 political prisoners.

Mr. Tin Oo was arrested along with Ms. Suu Kyi on May 30, 2003, when a pro-government mob attacked their motorcade as they were making a political tour of northern Myanmar.

Four people were killed and 50 injured in the incident, according to official figures, but dissidents say the death toll was much higher. Hundreds of members and supporters of Ms. Suu Kyi’s party were arrested, but none of the attackers was ever brought to court.

Mr. Tin Oo was initially held in Kalay prison, known for its harsh conditions, about 430 miles (700 kilometers) north of Yangon. Since February 2004 he was held under house arrest in Yangon. His telephone was cut off, he was not allowed to receive visitors and relatives said he had been denied regular medical checkups.

A highly decorated commander, Mr. Tin Oo rose to the rank of general and served as defence minister during the 26-year socialist regime of late dictator Ne Win. He was forced into retirement in 1976 and imprisoned for three years for alleged involvement in a plot to kill Ne Win. But it is widely believed that Ne Win wanted to eliminate the highly popular Mr. Tin Oo as a potential rival.

Mr. Tin Oo spent another three years in prison after the founding of Ms. Suu Kyi’s party.

Tin Oo Released


  • Kyaemon

    February 14, 2010 at 11:06 am


    Myanmar Opposition Leader Release Raises Questions –

    Myanmar dissidents welcomed a government decision to free one of the country’s most prominent opposition leaders after nearly seven years under arrest
    But a more difficult challenge for the opposition lies ahead: Rebuilding what remains of their movement after more than a decade of persecution by the country’s military regime.

    Myanmar officials on Saturday released Tin Oo, a leading dissident who helped found the country’s National League for Democracy opposition party along with Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in 1988. The NLD and Ms. Suu Kyi won Myanmar’s last national elections two years later, but the government ignored the results and eventually imprisoned many senior NLD leaders, including Ms. Suu Kyi and Tin Oo, the NLD vice chairman.

    More recently, Myanmar’s government has tried to appear more conciliatory towards the party, including allowing Ms. Suu Kyi to meet with other party leaders in advance of a new national election planned for later this year. Analysts generally believe the military—which rarely speaks publicly about its motives—wants to hold the vote to enhance its legitimacy and needs some measure of opposition to lend credibility to the process.

    Still, the government has stopped short of freeing Ms. Suu Kyi, a step leaders in the U.S. and elsewhere say is a necessary precondition to holding a free and fair election. Some dissidents said that while they are happy Mr. Tin Oo is free, they suspect military officials released him only because he may be too old at age 82 to stir up serious trouble.

    Others noted the release comes just days ahead of a visit by a United Nations special envoy on Monday to review the progress on human rights in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
    “It is expected that the junta will launch such a charm offensive to improve its image before the elections,” said Soe Aung, a spokesman for the Forum for Democracy in Burma, a Thailand-based dissident group, in an email response to questions. Still, “the junta will make sure at all cost that the opposition will be weakened if not paralyzed before the elections,” he said.

    Attempts to reach the Myanmar government, which rarely talks to foreign journalists, were unsuccessful. Than Shwe, the country’s reclusive senior military leader, has in the past said the election—whose date hasn’t been announced—will be “free and fair.”

    BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific

    Burma has freed the vice-chairman of Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).
    Tin Oo, 82, has been in prison or under house arrest for more than a decade.

    The release comes as Burma’s ruling military junta prepares to hold national elections in 2010, though no date has yet been set.
    Rumours inside Burma say Ms Suu Kyi could also be freed, probably after the elections, and once her period of house arrest expires in November.
    Speaking after officials entered his house and announced his release, Tin Oo said he would continue to work for democracy.
    He said he was “very hopeful” Ms Suu Kyi would soon be released, AP reported.
    Decorated general

    Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN’s special envoy to Myanmar, is due in the country on Monday to assess its progress on human rights issues.
    Analysts say Tin Oo could have a key role in deciding whether or not the NLD participates in the forthcoming elections.

    Tin Oo, who spent three years in prison after helping to found the NLD in 1988, has been either in prison or under house arrest since he was detained along with Ms Suu Kyi in 2003.
    The former defence minister, a highly decorated general, was forced into retirement in 1976. He was later sentenced to hard labour for treason.
    In January, Burma’s home minister reportedly said Ms Suu Kyi would be freed when her current period of house arrest expires.

    Myanmar Frees a Pro-Democracy Leader –
    BANGKOK — An 82-year-old leader of Myanmar’s main pro-democracy party was freed Saturday after nearly seven years of house arrest.

    The release of the democracy advocate, U Tin Oo, a former general who is deputy leader of the party led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, comes at the conclusion of his term of detention and in advance of a visit to Myanmar by a United Nations envoy.
    A founder of the party, the National League for Democracy, Mr. Tin Oo was arrested together with Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi in May 2003 when their motorcade was attacked by a pro-government mob in what some supporters say was an assassination attempt.

    The arrests ended a brief period of freedom for Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, now 64, who remains under house arrest where she has spent most of the past 20 years.
    Her detention was extended for 18 months last August after she was convicted of violating the terms of her house arrest when an American adventurer swam across a lake and entered her home uninvited.
    On Friday, the leader of Myanmar’s military junta, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, repeated his confirmation that an election would be held some time this year.

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