“I’ve heard of people being wrongly arrested, but never falsely released!”: 110 rearrests add to pain of Burma’s despairing families

What began as a moment of joy soon turned into a nightmare for many Burmese families. In Meiktila alone, two dozen were approached by police less than an hour after being reunited with loved ones who, in many cases, had been missing for months, helplessly watching as they were hauled back to prison. 

All, once again, without any explanation.

“I saw the news about the Meiktila rearrests,” said Ya Mone Oo, whose husband was taken back in by security forces shortly after his October 19  release. “But I couldn’t believe it. I never thought they would do this to my husband and family.”

After claiming that it was to release 1,316 political prisoners—including activists, celebrities, and journalists—the junta has brazenly swept up many of those let free within hours of their release. In a move that some speculate is calculated to appease ASEAN, to show the junta’s goodwill in supporting the blocs Five-Point Consensus plan after it was spectacularly ousted from the upcoming Brunei summit, the military also claimed to have dropped charges against some 4,320 protestors. 

No lists have been provided of those released, and, as with two previous amnesties given since the coup, numbers ascertained by critically analysing releases across Burma currently go no way to support the junta’s figures.

However, what is eminently more nefarious than this new Naypyidaw red-herring, yet another calculated distraction for the international media, is this fact: tonight, the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP) said that at least one-hundred-and-ten detainees who were given brief glimpses of liberty since Tuesday have been rearrested as of October 21. 

As rumours of rearrests mushroomed only hours after the first detainees were set free (by Wednesday morning it was clear that nobody—be they NLD reps, rock stars, or common folk— were immune from this latest trick of the security forces), Burma’s netizens soon began posting en masse to warn the recently released to flee to safe houses and liberated zones.

Of 38 detainees released from Meiktila Prison, 11, including Lwin Maung Maung, a regional Hluttaw MP, were rearrested within the hour; this time around they were charged under Burma’s Counter-Terrorism Law. 

Stories of rearrests continue to surface on social media. Yesterday, DVB heard that Ito, the musician son of rock megastar, Zaw Win Htut, had been arrested the morning after celebrating his release with a nighttime party. 

Strikingly, news also came to us of the case of Thet Paing Htwe, released from Insein Prison for a meagre 45 minutes before being snatched by police.

Thet Paing Htwe’s wife, Ya Mone Oo, documented her husband’s rearrest in an emotional Facebook post, relating how her husband was asked to return to a police station at 9 p.m. to sign a bail agreement. Shortly after, five officers entered the couple's house—located near to the station—and pressured her husband into their car.

“They dragged him down and pushed him into the car,” Ya Mone Oo told DVB. “When we arrived at the station, there was no one except a police guard. He said that no one had arrived recently, and told us to go check Insein Prison. Because of the curfew, we returned home.”

When she returned the following day, Ya Mone Oo was told her husband had been sent to prison. She reached out to sources close to the prison who each returned with conflicting information: he was being held on 505(a); he was definitely not in Insein; he was back in a cell as he had been wrongly released. 

Although Ya Mone Oo had first been hopeful the family would be reunited for Thadingyut, she says she is now just relieved that her husband is safe and his location has been confirmed; the muting of expectations being a survival trait familiar to most Burmese families since the coup.

None of the 11 people arrested alongside her husband have yet to be released for a second time. 

With no job, Ya Mone Oo says she will be “living like a beggar” until her husband is released. 

“In my lifetime, I’ve heard of people being wrongly arrested, but never falsely released! What should I do?” she asked. “I can’t bear this situation, only a few hours seeing my husband’s unhealthy face and then he disappeared again without a trace.”

 Photo - MPA

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