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Myanmar releases ex-local leader of Suu Kyi's party

The military junta freed human rights activist and former local NLD leader Myint Aye, but arrested two other pro-democracy activists.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2006 12:31 IST

Myanmar has released a former local leader of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party, but jailed two democracy activists, a family member and a fellow activist said on Tuesday.

The junta freed human rights activist Myint Aye, a former local leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD), on Monday, a day after top UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari wrapped up a four-day visit to Myanmar.

"He was released yesterday," one of his relatives told the agency without giving further details.

Myint Aye, in his early 50s, was one of six pro-democracy activists detained in late September.

The other five were former student leaders who joined a pro-democracy uprising in 1988 that was brutally suppressed when troops opened fire on the protesters, killing thousands according to estimates.

A month after the bloody 1988 uprising, detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi helped found the NLD, which won 1990 elections in a landslide. But the military, which has ruled Myanmar since 1962, never recognised the results.

Democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, who joined the 1988 uprising, said two activists involved in a petition to demand the release of political prisoners, were jailed last week.

Win Ko, an NLD member, and Phyo Zaw Latt, have helped with the campaign that organizers say collected some 530,000 signatures demanding the release of prisoners in a rare sign of public dissent against the regime.

The signature campaign started after the authorities detained Myint Aye and the five former student activists in late September.

Win Ko and Phyo Zaw Latt were sentenced to 14 years each for faking signatures, Kyaw Min Yu said without giving further details.

Win Ko was already sentenced to three years for possessing illegal lottery vouchers last month.

During Gambari's visit, the UN envoy urged the junta to release the 61-year-old Nobel peace laureate and other political prisoners.

Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for most of the past 17 years, while the United Nations estimates there are 1,100 political prisoners in Myanmar.

In Yangon Saturday, Gambari met with Aung San Suu Kyi, who told the visiting UN envoy that she was in good health but needed more medial visits.

Apart from live-in maid, the detained opposition leader is allowed no contact with the outside world, except for once-a-month visits from her doctor.

First Published: Nov 14, 2006 12:31 IST