According to reports from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) and Amnesty International, political prisoners in jails and interrogation camps in Burma have been subjected to torture, and killings, and other severe human rights violations.
AAPP said the junta has imposed an information blackout in prisons, creating limited knowledge of the conditions inside the prisons. It also reported that the regime has imposed strict rules on security forces managing prisons to prevent information from leaking.
Inmates from most prisons in the country, including Yangon’s Insein and Mandalay’s Obo Prison, have been cut off from the outside world and inmates have been unable to receive food, supplies and medicine from their relatives due to prison authorities banning family visits.
Political prisoners from Monywa Prison were moved to Myingyan, Nyaung Oo, Shwe Bo Prisons in July and August and on Aug. 5, more than 120 political prisoners from Insein Prison were transferred to Tharyawaddy Prison. Over 100 political prisoners from Hpa-an Prison were transferred to Insein and other areas in July.
Members of the Hpa-an Students’ Union were amongst the transferred political prisoners who were seriously beaten daily. In June, political prisoners from Magway Prison were beaten by the prison authorities daily for no known reason, and relatives of inmates have grown concerned when junta officials did not inform them that their relatives would be moved.
Political prisoners are also forced to carry sewage, bags of rice and others were ordered to beat those serving time for political transgressions against the Tatmadaw. At least three political prisoners in Obo Prison are suffering from life-threatening conditions. Fifty inmates are reportedly infected with COVID and are not allowed to receive food and medicine, as their families are unable to visit.
Amnesty International released a report on Aug. 1 that opponents of the military coup have been subject to brutal torture – including having their bones broken – at interrogation camps and prisons in Burma.
According to AI, the military authorities blatantly violated international law by arresting people without arrest warrants, extracting forced confessions through torture, abducting people from the streets, and not allowing detainees to meet with their families or lawyers.
Prison authorities have kicked, slapped, and beat prisoners with the butt of guns, as well as psychologically tortured inmates by threatening to kill and rape them. An inmate was threatened with a package containing a fake bomb.
“Myanmar has stooped to unimaginable new lows in its vile and brutal treatment of detainees as part of an overall strategy intended to break their spirits and compel people to give up any resistance to the 2021 military coup,” Dr Agnes Callamard, the Secretary General of AI said.
AI urged the UN Security Council to refer the junta to the International Criminal Court as well as to implement stronger weapons embargoes on the Burmese military.
“When they [the police] found us sleeping, they beat us. When they caught us sitting, they beat us…They pointed G3 rifles at our foreheads and threatened that they could kill us anytime,” a student who was arrested in Magway Region and later released told AI.
Another released female prisoner told AI that she heard that a prisoner was tasered several times, and a prisoner’s head was submerged in a bucket of water in the prison during an interrogation.
A student activist also said that he saw police officers hit his friend’s head against a wall and tase his genitals. Both of them were threatened and told they could be blown up with a hand grenade.
A woman who was arrested in Karenni State by police said they told her, “We can just kill you after the arrest. We do not even need to put you in jail. We can simply shoot you.”
Security forces also sexually assaulted detainees during interrogations, according to AI.
A transgender woman that was taken to Mandalay Palace for interrogation – which is infamous for torture – said that interrogators scratched her knees with sharp objects and sprayed with ethyl alcohol over the wounds and did not give her anything to eat or drink during the three days of interrogation. The interrogators showed their penises to her. They took off her clothes and looked at and mocked her naked body.
Protest leader Ma Win was arrested when she was traveling on a bus in Mandalay and said she was slapped, blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to an unknown location. She said that security forces repeatedly beat, kicked and threatened to kill her during a 24-hour interrogation.
Prisons are overcrowded and 50 inmates were packed into a cell meant for 10 inmates. The food that was given to inmates was also found to have dead bugs, maggots, and worms.
“We will never give up. We are like phones, we will recharge once we run out of batteries,” Saw Han Nway Oo told AI.
Families of prisoners are worrying about more executions of prisoners on death row after four democracy activists were executed in July.
AAPP strongly condemned human rights violations against political prisoners by prison authorities and called for immediate release of all people who have been wrongfully arrested.
According to AAPP reports, 11,982 people arrested in Burma and 123 people have been sentenced to death following the Feb. 1, 2021 military coup.