UPDATE (BURMA) Professor Salai Tun Than Released 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-17-2003
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of expression,

Dear Friends

Great news! Professor Salai Tun Than has been released!

The Irrawaddy Online (05 May 2003) reported that, on Sunday, 4 May 2003, eighteen political prisoners, including Dr Tun Than, were released. Full story: http://www.irrawaddy.org/news/index.html?#dr, and part below:

Dr Salai Tun Than arrived home yesterday (04 May 2003) from Insein Prison after serving 18 months of a seven year sentence. Almost all the released prisoners were told that they were prohibited from engaging in any future political activities. As a condition of their release, they are held accountable under Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states they will be reincarcerated for the remainder of their sentences if they found to be involved in politics. The release of the 18 political prisoners comes two days before the one-year anniversary of opposition leader Aung San Su Kyi’s release from house arrest.

“Health and humanitarian concerns” governed the choice of who to set free, according to a statement released by the regime. “The releases are the latest in a series of efforts by the government to move Myanmar [Burma] closer to multiparty democracy and national reconciliation,” the statement continued.

Dr Salai Tun Than told The Irrawaddy yesterday (04 May 2003), “I staged a hunger strike for two days. I stopped it because the prison authorities gave into some of my demands. They promised not to investigate political prisoners who were interviewed by international organizations in prisons. They also gave me a Bible.”

In addition, the authorities offered to be a conduit between Dr Tun Than and top government officials. “I think that my protest at City Hall would not be necessary any more, because the authorities told me that if I have something to talk to the government about, they will send it to Sr-Gen Than Shwe,” said the professor. “But at the moment I don’t have anything to say.”

As for future plans, he added, “I am not interested in politics. I want to continue my work on the rural development project.” Regarding Burma’s political future, he commented, “I would like to see an elected government—whether military or civil—but it must be elected.”

Three political prisoners were also released last week after serving 14 years. (from The Irrawaddy, 05 May 2003, by Kyaw Zwa Moe)

The Associated Press, 05 May 2003, reported that Dr Salai Tun Than, who is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Georgia, had also thanked students at those schools for demonstrating for his release from Insein Prison.

Dr Tun Than said that he was aware of appeals for his freedom, such as those made by the students from his old schools, U.S. lawmakers (including Wisconsin Sen. Russell Feingold and Georgia Rep. Max Burns), and human rights groups. “I’m thankful to them,” he said.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell described Myanmar’s military government as a “despotic regime.” As many as 1,400 other political prisoners are believed to still be detained. (from The Associated Press Worldstream, 05 May 2003, Daniel Lovering).


The Irrawaddy, 05 May 2003, Kyaw Zwa Moe.

Associated Press Worldstream, 05 May 2003, Daniel Lovering.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION http://www.ahrchk.net/tunthan/mainfile.php/general/5/

Free Political Prisoner Campaign Committee (Burma): http://www.fppcc.org/

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma): http://www.aappb.org/

IRRAWADDY: http://www.irrawaddy.org

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Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-17-2003
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of expression,