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Junta frees activist detained over prayer vigil for Suu Kyi

(Mizzima/IFEX) - The following is a 3 July 2007 statement from Mizzima News, an interim member of IFEX:

Prominent HIV activist released

On 2 July 2007, following international concern and pressure, the Burmese junta released prominent HIV activist Phyu Phyu Thin, who was arrested for participating in a prayer vigil held for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi ahead of the 27 May review of her house arrest.

Because to voice support for Aung San Suu Kyi, whom the junta deems a "national security threat", is to invite arrest and torture in the secretive state, political activists thought calls for her release could be channelled through prayer gatherings, pitting the authority of religion against that of the junta, in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

However, Phyu Phyu Thin, 34, who is also a member of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) political party, was arrested from her house on 21 May after joining one such prayer procession.

Fifty-one other activists arrested along with Phyu Phyu Thin were released on 27 June. Authorities gave no explanation as to why she was arrested and held longer than the others.

Phyu Phyu Thin had begun a hunger strike on 19 June, demanding a fair trial or immediate release. However, she resumed taking her meals after five days when the authorities promised to release her.

NLD spokesperson U Myint Thein earlier said that Phyu Phyu Thin might have been detained longer as she was still weak from the hunger strike.

The NLD was denied the right to govern the country despite winning the 1990 general elections by a landslide margin.

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