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The Forgotten Women of Burma

The Forgotten Women Prisoners in Burma

The Forgotten Women of Burma

Naw Bey Bey

Naw Bey Bey - Prisoner In Burma Naw Bey Bey is from Karen State, where she trained in community primary healthcare, after which she began to work in healthcare for Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs).

She was arrested in January 2006, by Tatmadaw troops in Toungoo District, Karen state. Naw Bey Bey had been home to visit her family after she received word that her mother had died. After Naw Bey Bey’s arrest it was reported that she was interrogated and beaten.

She was seen in a Tatmadaw camp near the village of Play Sa Lo, looking bruised, unfed, frail and wearing torn clothing. There have been several reports of Naw Bey Bey being taken out of prison and forced to travel with the Burmese Army as a medic. During this time it was reported that she was raped by soldiers.

Ma Thin Thin Aye aka Mie Mie

Ma Thin Thin Aye aka Mie Mie - Prisoner in BurmaMie Mie was sentenced to 65 years in jail by a special court in Yangon's Insein Prison on 11 November 2008. According to reports in the exile Burmese media, after hearing her sentence, Mie Mie shouted "We will never be frightened". In November 2009 Mie Mie was transferred to Katha prison, Sagaing Division, in the north-west of the country. This is 800 miles (1290km) from her home in Yangon, and it is now much more difficult for her family to visit her. The decision to move Mie Mie was made despite her continuing poor health. At the beginning of November her husband told exile media groups that she was suffering from spondylosis and arthritis.

Mie Mie has three young children, who are cared for by their father.

Phyo Phyo Aung

Phyo Phyo Aung - Prisoner In Burma Phyo Phyo Aung and her father, Dr. Nay Win, who were both volunteers with The Group That Buries the Dead, had assisted burying and cremating around 200 corpses after cyclone Nargis hit in May 2008.

They were both sentenced to four years imprisonment. Phyo Phyo Aung is a student and member of ABFSU. Phyo Phyo Aung had been a student activist during the Saffron Revolution, and had gone into hiding.

Following the cyclone, she and other student activists came out of hiding to help gather dead bodies.

Honey Oo

Honey Oo  - Prisoner In Burma Honey Oo is a young Law student, in her early twenties, and a member of the All Burma Federation Student Union (ABSFU). She was arrested in October 2007. She was one of 20 leaders chosen when the ABFSU was reformed on 28 August 2007 in the lead up to the Saffron Revolution. After her arrest, Honney Oo’s family wrote to the director of prison administration requesting that she be allowed to sit her final exams in detention. At this point in time, she had not been convicted of any offence. Authorities denied permission for Honney and 2 other students to sit their exams. Thus, Honney has been unable to finish her law degree. In November 2008, Hooney was transferred to Lashio prison in Northern Shan state, which is over 600 miles from her family in Rangoon.

Mar Mar Oo

 Mar Mar Oo - Prisoner In BurmaMar Mar Oo was just a high school student when she was first sentenced to 3 years in prison with hard labour. She was the first woman activist accused under Section 5/j of the Emergency Provision Act. Following her release, Mar Mar Oo was undeterred in her political activities, as she joined the 1996 student’s movement. She was again arrested and sentenced to 14 years with hard labour.

Mar Mar Oo received a prison sentence of 70 years in 2008, which was 5 years more than the other defendants at her trial. Under section 401, a former political prisoner must finish the remainder of their sentence if they break the agreement not to participate in politics. Mar Mar Oo had previously been imprisoned in 1989 and in 1996. When she was released, she still had 5 years left to serve and this was then added to her 65 year sentence for her involvement in the Saffron revolution. She is now in Tharawaddy prison in Southern Burma.

Daw Win Mya Mya

Daw Win Mya Mya Daw Win Mya Mya is 60 years of age. She has been a member of National League for Democracy and an activist since 1988. She was travelling with Daw Aung Suu Kyi’s motorcade in Depayin in 2003, when it was attacked by a militia mob. During that attack, Daw Win Mya Mya broke both arms. She still suffers from nerve damage as a result of those injuries. Daw Win Mya Mya also suffers from low blood pressure, diabetes and has difficulty sitting or standing.

She was sentenced in October 2008 to twelve years in prison for her activities during the September 2007 demonstrations. She was transferred to the isolated Putao prison in far north Burma in March 2009. She managed to tell her brother before she left, “I am being sent to where I deserve for my works. You live one day, you die one day. I don’t care if they send me to the moon.”

In February 2010 local authorities auctioned off her shop, thereby cutting off a possible livelihood in the future.

Thet thet Aung

Ma Thet Thet Aung - Prisoner in Burma was given a total 65 year sentence in November 2008 for her activities during the Saffron Revolution. She is a member of 88 Generation Students Group, who through their protests in August 2007 sparked off the Saffron Revolution. In October 2009, AAPP learnt that she urgently requires heart surgery. Thet Thet Aung has a history of heart disease and has been suffering from blackouts and hypertension9.

Thet Thet Aung is said to take real joy in being a mother to her three young sons. Her husband was given a sentence of 11 years. Their children are currently staying with Thet Thet Aung’s mother. Her friends remember that she is always smiling and laughing, and she likes to tell funny stories.

San San Tin

San San Tin - Prisoner In Burma San San Tin is Thet Thet Aung’s aunt and mother of political prisoner Nyi Nyi Aung. In October 2007 San San Tin was arrested and shortly after she is began serving a 9 year sentence for ‘aiding and abetting a wanted person”. She had assisted her son Nyi Nyi Aung and other prodemocracy activists. San San Tin is in poor health. In January 2008 her sister said that she had a tumour on her neck and was due for an operation.” She previously had an operation on her left eye, which has now deteriorated further. San San Tin was hospitalised in November 2008 for investigations. It was reported in June 2009 that San San Tin was suffering from heart disease as well as a swelling in her neck11 .

Noble Aye

Nobel Aye - Prisoner in BurmaNoble Aye was put into a punishment cell in September 2009.

AAPP received information in September 2009 that she was ill from Hepatitis.

She had previously been ill with jaundice in June 2009.

Nilar Thein

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Nilar Thein - Prisoner in Burma On 22 January 2009, family members of Nilar Thein were reported to be concerned about her health, having heard that she has a peptic ulcer. They were also concerned that she was being held in solitary confinement.

She was vomiting every day and when she went to see the doctor he told her to just go in for meditation and tell her beads.

Nila Thein has a daughter age 3 and a half, who lives with grandparents. Nila Thein's husband is also serving a 65-year prison sentence.



Torture is state policy in Burma, and common practice at interrogation centres and prisons. Common forms of torture include sleep deprivation, beatings and stress positions.

Prisoner punishments - such as solitary confinement and placing prisoners in punishment cells - exacerbate existing injuries and creates additional health problems.


Prisoners in solitary confinement are often shackled.

They must sleep on a cold concrete floor without any blanket or mat, which can lead to tuberculosis, and makes existing injuries more painful. Prisoners are not allowed to shower and the small pots used as toilets are not emptied, as a result excrement remains uncovered and gives rise to maggots and a foul stench.

Many 88 Generation Students group members currently in prison are former political prisoners who have already spent long periods in solitary confinement.

When political activists are first detained, they are often subjected to brutal torture during the interrogation period that can result in their death or leave them with permanent injuries.

After they have been tortured they are denied medical assistance and treatment for the injuries they have received.

Prolonged detention means that a political prisoner’s health deteriorates over time and s/he becomes more and more susceptible to illness.

In Burma’s prisons, a long jail term sentence is like a drawn out death sentence.

The combination of torture, harsh prison conditions, lack of healthcare, and poor hygiene has a severely detrimental impact on the physical and mental health of the prisoner. This increases the likelihood that a prisoner will contract a serious illness such as tuberculosis or malaria, from which they will be unable to recover or suffer from permanent health problems.

Deprivation of family visits and moving prisoners to remote locations, far from home, is another form of torture used.



Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAAP)