April 29, 2003

Burma Campaign UK today called for the immediate release of Dr Salai Tun Than, a political prisoner on hunger strike in Burma.

In March 2002 Dr Salai Tun Than, a retired university rector, was sentenced to seven years in prison for distributing a letter calling for democracy in Burma. On Sunday 27 April the 75 year old began a seven day hunger strike to protest against inhumane prison conditions.

Dr Salai Than – who is almost blind – is being held in the hospital wing of the notorious Insein prison, in the capital, Rangoon. In defiance of international agreements, he has been interrogated following visits by representatives of the International Red Cross and United Nations. Political prisoners are hooded when they are taken out of their cells, even in order to use the toilet, and are not allowed to speak with other prisoners. Dr Salai Than has also been denied a Bible.

“Dr Salai Than must be released immediately, not just because of his frail health, but because he should never have been put in jail in the first place”, said John Jackson, Director of Burma Campaign UK.

Aung Din, a former political prisoner who is now Policy Director of the Free Burma Coalition in the US is concerned that Dr Salai Than could be tortured or killed. “In the past guards have placed hunger strikers in solitary confinement where they were beaten, tortured and shackled, some even beaten to death” he said.

Dr Salai Than’s daughter, Mai Theingi Tun Than, is asking the international community to put pressure on the regime to release her father and all other political prisoners.

For more information contact John Jackson, Director, or Mark Farmaner, Media Officer on 020 7281 7377

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