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Press Release
Date: October 16, 1997


The health of 70-year-old U Saw U Rel, an elected NLD representative imprisoned in Loikaw in Kayah (Karenni) State, is worsening according to his son-in-law who recently fled to the Thai-Burma border.

U Saw U Rel was hospitalized in the first week of July after suffering from serious diabetes and kidney problems. Although already in shackles, he was tied to his hospital bed. His son-in-law Aung Myint says although he has been put back in Loikaw Prison,
 his health has not improved. 

U Saw U Rel was arrested and sentenced to 17 years imprisonment on December 18, 1996, for violating Article 17 (1) of the Association With Illegal Organisations Act and violating the 1962 Printing and Publishing Act. The SLORC claimed that he was contribu
ting financially to the outlawed Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) and found a book he had written entitled 'The crisis of Kayah State and causes of civil war in Burma' when they searched his home. 

U Saw U Rel is a Second World War veteran who fought against the Japanese in a parachutist unit known as 'The Spiders'. He joined the NLD after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising and became a member of Kayah (Karenni) State NLD Organising Committee. 

He was one of the NLD delegates to the National Convention until the NLD boycott the Convention in December 1995. U Saw U Rel was forced by the SLORC to resign from the NLD on November 28, 1996, and was arrested soon after his resignation.

Aung Myint, 39, and his wife (U Saw U Rel's daughter) were arrested for alleged possession of raw opium following a search of their home by Burmese military intelligence. They were forced to confess to the charge after repeated torture by military intelli
gence officers, and were subsequently sentenced to 9 and 12 years respectively with hard labour. Aung Myint was recruited as a porter and sent to the frontline where he then fled to the Thai-Burma border.

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