April 13, 2021

Chin Political Prisoner Died In Burma’s Jail

11 June 2009: Salai Hla Moe, a member of National League for Democracy (NLD) based in Matupi Township, Chin State, died last month of ‘blood disease’ due to harsh condition and lack of medical treatment in Burma’s Myingyan prison.

The 48-year-old Chin political prisoner was said to have suffered from water-related disease for more than two years in prison and died after treatment from an outside hospital had been denied.

A family relative said that Salai Hla Moe was treated only in the prison clinic and when his condition was getting worse, he was not allowed to receive treatment from an outside hospital, according to Democratic Voice of Burma.

Salai Hla Moe’s family learned of his tragic death only weeks after a cousin brother from Pekoku town visited the prison in the end of last month. It is claimed that the authorities did not want to inform the family immediately.

Sa Lawng, an India-based Chin from Matupi Township, was quoted as saying: “At the moment, Salai Hla Moe’s wife is suffering from mental illness and is not living at home, but wandering on the streets. There is no future hope for their family as there is no one to look after their children.”

A report A glimpse To Political Prisoners and Prison Conditions in Burma by Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) published in March 2001 said: “The health condition in prisons is terrible as there is not enough medicine, medical doctors or timely treatment. The prisoners’ health deteriorates as a result of torture, improper food and inappropriate accommodation.”

“There are some deaths, as the extremely sick prisoners have to wait for the approval of prison authorities and MI for medical treatment. The prisons have become distributing centres of communicable diseases, such as AIDS, because one needle is used on many political prisoners when they feel sick or are vaccinated,” added the report.

An active member of NLD in Chin State’s Matupi Township, Salai Hla Moe, who was in charge of security for Aung San Suu Kyi during her trip to the region in 2003, was arrested along with Matupi NLD Secretary Salai Aung Thang and Youth leader Salai Pa Thang by the military authorities soon after Burma’s pro-democracy leader left. The arrested members were sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Salai Hla Moe, a Chin Christian, passed away while he was serving nearly seven years of his 11-year sentence. It is claimed that the prison authorities did not allow Salai Hla Moe’s family members to see his body and to perform a Christian funeral service.

This week, the Burma Campaign UK called on the UN to make securing the release of all Burma’s political prisoners, who are being kept in appalling prison conditions and being denied access to healthcare, an urgent priority before democracy leaders die in Burma’s jails.

Family members and relatives of those held in remote prisons are forced to travel for days to visit the prisoners, and only allowed to meet for a matter of minutes.

In military-ruled Burma, there are more than 2,000 political prisoners who have been arrested just for peacefully calling for democracy and freedom in the country. Sources said that over 20 of 43 major prisons currently house political prisoners in Burma.

Van Biak Thang

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