Home Civil Society Voices 2010 Civil society voices Burma: Political persecution of an entire family

Burma: Political persecution of an entire family

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Kyaw Min, his wife and their three children were cruelly imprisoned by the Burmese government because of his political activities. Now one of his children, Ma Khin Khin Nu, has been denied medical attention and is in urgent need of treatment, reports the Asian Human Rights Commission.




In 2009 the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) brought to your attention the case of U Kyaw Min and his family, who were given long jail sentences for supposedly giving false information about their ethnicity in order to get citizenship in Burma. In reality the family was targeted because of Kyaw Min’s political activities; the false information about their identity was used as a pretext to imprison not only him but also his wife and three of his children. Now one of the children, Ma Khin Khin Nu, has been denied medical attention and is in urgent need of treatment.

Case narrative:

As described in our original appeal (UAC-017-2009) U Kyaw Min and his family members were all born in Burma and are lifelong residents. He holds a number of degrees from institutions in Burma and worked in various official positions. But in 2005 because of his political activities, the authorities accused him of lying about his family’s ethnicity and falsely obtaining citizenship, accusing them of being Bengali and bringing charges against them under the citizenship law and emergency regulations. The authorities then unlawfully multiplied the offences against them, such that in total Kyaw Min was sentenced to 47 years and his wife and three children, 17 years each. They have since all been held at the central prison.

According to the information that the AHRC has recently received, Ma Khin Khin Nu, Kyaw Min’s daughter, is suffering from illness and is in urgent need of medical attention. When she first started feeling unwell she got permission to see the medical staff in the prison but they gave some medicines that didn’t improve her condition. In fact being put on a drip reportedly worsened her condition. Staff had feared that it might be tuberculosis but tests confirmed that it was not. However they have not given any other treatment or examined her further to find out what the problem might be. Aside from this illness, she is also suffering from a range of ailments that are common to prisoners in Burma’s jails, including boils and lice.

There are now grave fears that Khin Khin Nu’s condition may deteriorate if she is not given proper treatment soon but so far she has not been given permission to get treatment outside of the prison.

Further details about her case and related matters are provided in the sample letter below, as usual.

Additional information

The government of Burma has an obligation to look after the health and welfare of detainees under domestic law and international law but its prisons are consistently characterised by former inmates as hell-holes; nearly everyone who survives time inside them contracts illnesses for which they are not properly treated. At present the main prison does not even have a separate ward for sick female detainees.

To read about other sick prisoners of concern to the AHRC please see: UAU-016-2009, STM-099-2008 and OLT-003-2008. To browse hundreds of other Burma-related appeals issued by the AHRC, go to the appeals homepage and type “Burma” or “Myanmar” into the search box: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/. For further discussion see articles and special reports on the article 2 website: http://www.article2.org/search.php again search for Burma/Myanmar and see the 2009 AHRC annual report on Burma (PDF).

The AHRC Burmese-language blog, Pyithu Hittaing, is also updated constantly for Burmese-language readers, and covers the contents of urgent appeal cases, related news, and special analysis pieces.


Please write to the persons listed below to call for Ma Khin Khin Nu to get medical treatment without delay. Please note that for the purpose of the letter, the country should be referred to by its official title of Myanmar, rather than Burma.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and on the right to health, as well as the UN regional human rights office for Southeast Asia, calling for interventions into this case.

To support this urgent appeal please click here:


Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Woman prisoner in urgent need of medical treatment

Name of detainee: Ma Khin Khin Nu, daugher of U Kyaw Min, Prisoner No. 1278/C, Insein Central Prison; sentenced to 17 years in 2005

I am deeply distressed to learn that a woman detainee at the Central Prison in Myanmar has not obtained medical treatment for a serious condition and I urge the concerned authorities to take prompt steps to see that she obtains the help that she needs in accordance with both domestic and international standards.

From the information that I have received I understand that Ma Khin Khin Nu is suffering from an as-yet unidentified illness and is in urgent need of medical attention that may require her to attend facilities outside of the prison grounds. When she first started to feel unwell she obtained permission to see the medical staff in the prison but they merely gave some medicines that didn’t improve her condition. They had feared that it might be tuberculosis but tests confirmed it was not. However they have not given any other treatment or examined further to find out what the problem might be. Nor, according to latest information received, had she so far been given permission to get medical attention from outside of the jail, despite a request having been made.

Accordingly I urge that the government take all necessary steps to see that she is provided with adequate and appropriate treatment. I note in this regard the obligations for the care of prisoners under sections 37 to 39 of the Prisons Act and paragraphs 947 and 948 of the Prisons Manual, including that women detainees receive, where possible, treatment in separate facilities. Yet from the information made available to me there is no separate ward for female detainees at the Central Prison. If this is correct, then it is patently unacceptable and I urge that the prison authorities make appropriate arrangements to provide for separate places for sick women detainees as a matter of top priority. While the Prisons Manual may perceive the provision of separate facilities for women as desirable, it was written more than 100 years ago and clearly the authorities in Myanmar should treat separate facilities as a matter of necessity.

In respect to the above I also draw the attention of the Myanmar authorities to the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, under which article 22(2) states that,

“Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialised institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.”

And, under article 25(1), that, “The medical officer shall have the care of the physical and mental health of the prisoners and should daily see all sick prisoners, all who complain of illness, and any prisoner to whom his attention is specially directed.”

I also take this opportunity to remind the Government of Myanmar of the need to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to places of detention in accordance with its international mandate without further delay. I fail to understand why the government has persistently refused to comply with the globally-established terms for ICRC visits to its prisons, to the detriment only of the prisoners and the senior government authorities themselves, who would otherwise get confidential, reliable and independent information about conditions inside the facilities that they would not get from their own personnel.

Finally, I take this opportunity to call for the release of Ma Khin Khin Nu and the other members of her family from prison: U Kyaw Min, Prisoner No. 0334/C, Insein Central Prison, father of Khin Khin Nu, sentenced to 47 years’ imprisonment; Daw Khaw Tizar, Prisoner No. 1276/C, Insein Central Prison mother of Khin Khin Nu; sentenced to 17 years; Maung Aung Naing, Prisoner No. 4188/Ei, Insein Central Prison, brother of Khin Khin Nu, convicted to 17 years; and, Ma Wei Wei Nu, Prisoner No. 1277/C, Insein Central Prison, sister of Khin Khin Nu, convicted to 17 years. I am astounded and appalled that the authorities in Myanmar would be so vindictive as to imprison an entire family in a case that was clearly motivated in response to the political activities of just one of its members, and urge the responsible authorities to review the case and grant these persons their freedom without delay.

Yours sincerely


1. Maj-Gen. Maung Oo
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

2. Lt-Gen. Thein Sein
Prime Minister
c/o Ministry of Defence
Tel: + 95 1 372 681
Fax: + 95 1 652 624

3. Dr. Kyaw Myint
Minister of Health
Ministry of Health
Office No. 4
Tel: +95 67 411 381/ 411 163 / 411 353
Fax: +95 67 411 004/ 411 016
Email: [email protected]

4. U Zaw Win,
Director General of Correctional Department
Director-General ‘s Office of Correctional Department
Insein Township, Yangon Division
Fax: +95-01-642845

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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