NLD leader moved to house arrest

YANGON: Tin Oo, vice-chairman of Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and the last senior NLD figure in prison, has been shifted to house arrest, a source close to his family said yesterday. 

“He was handed over to his family by military intelligence personnel late last night (Saturday),” the source said. 

“He is a bit thin but in good health,” the source said. 

He added that the house was under guard by a security detail and visitors were not allowed. 

RALLY SPEECH: File photo of Tin Oo (left) with Suu Kyi during a public gatheringoutside the gates of her home in Yangon on June 9, 1996. — Reuterspic

Tin Oo, 77 and frail, had been in Kalay prison in remote north-western Myanmar since May 30 last year, following a crackdown on the NLD launched after the entourage of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was attacked by a pro-junta mob. 

The crackdown saw the detention of Suu Kyi, who was moved to house arrest in September, and all eight members of her party's Central Executive Committee as well as other NLD officials and activists, while the party's offices were ordered closed. 

Family members had expressed concern that poor conditions at Kalay prison near the Indian border and severe winter weather would lead to a deterioration of Tin Oo's health, the source said. 

In mid-20003, rumours had circulated that Tin Oo had been badly injured or even killed in the violent May 30 clash, but an international Red Cross team visited him in prison in June and declared his health was “normal”. 

Tin Oo's release from jail could be interpreted as a goodwill gesture by the ruling junta, which is seeking to launch a national convention this year to draft a new constitution as the first step in its “roadmap” to democracy announced last August. 

“We're very happy that he has at least been released from prison and brought back home,” one NLD member said on condition of anonymity. 

He said observers and democracy activists viewed Tin Oo's return as “a positive step” which indicated the latest round of confidence building between the junta and the NLD was making progress. 

“I understand that Aung San Suu Kyi herself had asked specifically for the release of Tin Oo” as well as other NLD figures including journalist U Win Tin and Suu Kyi aide U Win Htain, both of whom are held at Yangon's notorious Insein prison, the NLD member said. – Reuters  

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