A junta court in Myanmar’s northern Sagaing region has sentenced nine People’s Defense Force (PDF) medics to 12 years each in prison.
The women were charged under the military regime’s Counter-Terrorism Law and sentenced at Kale Prison Court in October according to sources close to the prison and PDF officials. The information took a month to come out because the authorities did not tell their families.
The women from Kale township, all in their 20s, were arrested when junta troops raided a PDF camp in Kale township on Nov. 16, 2021. They were held in Kale Prison, accused of incitement to sedition.
They each received two-year sentences under Section 505 (a) of the Counter Terrorism Law and 10 years under section 50 (j), an official from Kale PDF — who declined to be named for safety reasons — told RFA. He said although the women were not sentenced to hard labor they have been forced to work in prison.
“I learned that they are in good health inside,” he said. “In prison they have to work at what they are asked to do and I found out they are sewing with machines.”
The women were named as Lal Tan Lwe E; Mal Son Daung E; Cal Lon San E; Lal Moom Kame E; Van Lar Ron E; Ma Lal Pyan Pel E; Zam Zo Zaam; Man Lam Dim; and Nyaung Dont Kyin. Their exact ages were not disclosed.
Lal Tan Lwe E told her family the women were interrogated by troops for almost five months. During that time, they were not able to communicate with anyone outside the prison. They were later allowed to contact their families but were not able to tell them when the sentences were handed down. The information only became known this month through lawyers and prison staff.
“I was contacted more than five months after she was arrested,” Lal Tan Lwe E’s father told RFA. “I heard that she was under interrogation during that time. I wondered every day, ‘is she dead or how is she still alive?’ I was almost out of my mind. Now I send her what she needs every two months. I look forward to the day she will be released.”
The father said the family was not allowed to hire a lawyer, did not have the right to attend the trial and was not informed of the sentence by the authorities. He only found out when the information was posted on a Facebook page.
A total of 370 women have been killed, 3,385 arrested and 127 raped since the coup according to a statement by the ousted National Unity Government’s Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs.