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UA 469/90 - Myanmar: death in detention: Maung Ko

, Index number: ASA 16/036/1990

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 16/36/90
Distr: UA/SC
UA 469/90 Death in Detention 19 November 1990
MYANMAR (BURMA): MAUNG KO, aged 52
Amnesty International has recently received reports that Maung Ko, aged
52, died in a military detention centre north of Yangon (Rangoon), the
capital, on 9 November 1990. Maung Ko was a senior member of the
opposition party the National League for Democracy (NLD) and was believed
to have been detained for about two weeks before he died. The NLD is
the largest political party in Myanmar, having won over 80% of the
parliamentary seats in the May 1990 elections.
General Saw Maung, Prime Minister and head of the ruling military
body the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), stated in a
speech made to officials in northern Myanmar on 12 November that Maung
Ko had committed suicide. "We do not interrogate by torture...The man,
after confessing what (the opposition) did and what their plans were,
made use of the blanket and hanged himself. He did not die because of
our doing" Saw Maung said. The prisoner's family, however, was reported
to have stated that they believed he died as a result of torture. They
also said that his body was covered in bruises and that one leg was broken.
Amnesty International is concerned about fears that Maung Ko may have
died from ill-treatment while in detention.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Large-scale public unrest erupted in Myanmar in March 1988. Mass
demonstrations led by students, Buddhist monks and others called for
an end to 26 years of military one-party rule and its replacement by
a civilian interim administration. The military authorities reimposed
control in a coup on 18 September 1988 and formed the SLORC. They
proclaimed severe martial law restrictions on freedom of expression and
assembly while at the same time legalizing political parties and promising
elections in May 1990. In the run-up to the elections, thousands of
leaders and supporters of parties and student groups calling for
restoration of civil liberties and multi-party democracy were arrested
for breaking martial law orders. Hundreds or more of them may remain
in detention.
Although oppostion parties overwhelmingly won the general election
of May 1990, the military-based SLORC has not announced a timetable for
the transfer of power to the newly-elected parliament. The SLORC has
reportedly arrested scores of civilian political party activists and
hundreds of Buddhist monks since 22 October 1990 in a new round of
suppression of opposition to its continued rule. At
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least 50 NLD leaders have been arrested as well as the entire leadership
of the Democratic Party for A New Society, a student group which has
been compiling informaton on alleged SLORC human rights violations.
The arrest of monks aimed at ending a protest movement launched after
troops opened fire on an anti-government demonstration in the town of
Mandalay on 8 August 1990, when up to two dozen monks were reportedly
shot or beaten and five arrested.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters:
- expressing concern about fears that Maung Ko may have died as a result
of ill-treatment while in detention;
- urging the government to initiate an impartial and independent
investigation about allegations that Maung Ko died after being
ill-treated in detention, and to make public its findings;
- urging that the treatment in detention of all political prisoners
conform to international standards and that they be given access to their
families and lawyers of their own choice.
APPEALS TO:
General Saw Maung
Commander-in-Chief of the Army
Chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration Council
Yangon
Union of Myanmar
Telegrams: General Saw Maung, Yangon, Myanmar
Telexes: 21313 MOFARN BM (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Faxes: +95 1 2 2950 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Major General Khin Nyunt
lst Secretary
State Law and Order Restoration Council
c/o Ministry of Defence
Yangon,
Union of Myanmar
Telegrams: Major General Khin Nyunt, SLORC, Yangon, Myanmar
Telexes: 21316 MILPRO BM
Faxes: +95 1 2 2950 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
COPIES TO;
Gen U Ne Win
Patron
Myanmar War Veterans Organization
Yangon
Myanmar
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and to diplomatic representatives of Myanmar (Burma) to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International
Secretariat or your section office if sending appeals after 31 December
1990.

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