Government breaks promise to free jailed Karen leader

Karen National Union delegates at last week’s ceasefire talks with the Burma government in Pa-an claim they were given assurances that the jailed KNU central committee member P’doh Mahn Nyein Maung would be released.

The KNU says the Home Minister, Lt-Gen Ko Ko, contradicted the government’s promise when he briefed reporters last Saturday on the outcome of the ‘peacetalks’.

“Legal action [against Mahn Nyein Maung ] continues to be taken, but if there are calls for an amnesty, we will think about it.”

P’doh Saw David Taw, the KNU ceasefire spokesperson talked to Karen News.

“The Burmese government told the KNU that P’doh Mahn Nyein Maung will be released and he would return home with KNU [ceasefire talk] representatives. His case is coming up for trail and the government continues to detain him. The new case or the reason for Mahn Nyein Maung’s continued detention has not been disclosed to the KNU.”

The KNU delegation was led to believe that P’doh Mahn Nyein Maung would be given his freedom along with the 651 political prisoners released the day after the KNU held ‘peace talks’ with the Burmese government.

P’doh Saw David Taw told Karen News.

“The Burmese government also agreed to release all Karen people and KNU members who have been accused and detained by the Burmese Army for their alleged connections to the KNU or for supporting the KNU. The government representatives asked the KNU to submit a list of all KNU and Karen people who are detained so their release could be negotiated.”

Mahn Nyein Maung, is currently locked up in Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison, he was charged with violating immigration laws and having connections with illegal organizations – the KNU and other ethnic opposition groups.

In July 2010, Chinese immigration officials in Kunming arrested Mahn Nyein Maung while he was traveling on a Burmese passport. He had earlier been refused entry to Thailand and was sent back to China from Bangkok, where he had been denied entry to Thailand. He was then deported to Burma in August, where he was taken into custody and later sentenced to 17-years jail.

It is not the first the KNU official ran foul of the government authorities. In 1967, Padoh Mahn Nyein Mung was jailed and charged with political related crimes and sent to Ko Koe Kyun detention camp – a notorious island in southern Burma in the Andaman Sea. Padoh Mahn Nyein Mung escaped with two other prisoners crossing the sea in a small boat. He has written and published a book about his experiences – Against the storm, crossing the sea – under his pen name of Ye Baw Shoune.

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