“Until the generals’ military hardware is crumbled, they won’t listen to anyone”
Oomlwin, Yangon, Myanmar
Send us your views
In September, Buddhist monks lead the biggest anti-government street protests in two decades.
While officials say 10 people were killed when the government sent in soldiers to deal with the protests, exiled democracy groups believe the toll is far higher.
The military also said nearly 3,000 people and Buddhist monks were arrested, with all but a few hundreds released after questioning.
But family sources and witnesses say the generals in charge of Myanmar are emptying jails, including Yangon’s Insein prison, and sending hundreds of detainees to remote areas of the country.
“About 60 prisoners were sent to Mandalay by train on Thursday. Some of them will be sent to other far-flung places,” the relative of one detainee said.
The prisoner transfers come ahead of visits by two UN officials.
Ibrahim Gambari, the UN’s envoy to Myanmar, is due to visit in the first week of November at the end of a six-country Asian tour to persuade the generals to talk with Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained opposition leader.
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, a UN human rights investigator, is expected to fly in shortly afterwards.
It will be Pineheiro’s first visit in four years and he has told reporters he will demand unrestricted access to all prisons.
In the past, visits to prisons by Pinheiro and the International Red Cross have led to improvements in conditions for political detainees, thought to number around 1,100 even before the arrests in September.
The Red Cross was forced to end its prison visits programme a year ago because the government demanded all interviews with detainees to be conducted in the presence of a local official.