Burma Campaign UK today welcomed the release of the three resistance fighters from Burma, who have been held in India for more than 13 years, despite never having committed a crime. They were three of a total of 34 resistance fighters being held. The other 31 were released in May 2011.
Lu Lu, Hay Li and Maung Naing were released unconditionally and left Port Blair in the Andaman Islands on 18th November to join their comrades in Delhi.
The thirty-four were arrested 13 years ago, on 11th February 1998, on Landfall Island, by the Indian Military. They appear to have been tricked by a rogue Indian Military intelligence official, who had told them they could land there with the permission and support of the military. Although initially accused of gun-running, these charges were dropped, and last year a plea bargain was agreed in which they were told that each of them had to pay a six-thousand rupee fine, and given a three year sentence, which has already been served while waiting for, and during, the trial.
These thirty-four resistance fighters never intentionally broke any Indian law. They thought they were in India with the permission of the Indian government.
Burma Campaign UK and other organisations worldwide have been campaigning for their release. In February 2011, 38 organisations in 18 countries took part in a global day of action in support of the 34.
The thirty-four come from two ethnic nationalities in Burma, they are Arakanese and Karen. Both of these ethnic groups face persecution from the dictatorship ruling Burma. As members of two banned organisations, the National United Party of Arakan, and the Karen National Union, they would face arrest, torture and imprisonment if they were forced to return to Burma.
Burma Campaign UK published a detailed briefing on the case, available at:https://burmacampaign.org.uk/images/uploads/8-34-Freedom-Fighters-in-India.pdf