Local Organizations Address Ongoing Practice of Torture and Needs of Survivors

By San Yamin Aung 27 June 2017

YANGON— Daw Ze Nyoi, 43, still remembers every detail of her husband’s arrest and torture. It happened five years ago but she tearfully recounted it as though it was yesterday.

“It hurt me badly,” she cried at a public event to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in Yangon on Monday.

Her husband, Lahtoi Brang Shawng, then a 26-year-old Kachin man, was arrested by Military Affairs Security on June 17, 2012, while they were living at the Jan Mai Kawng camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) on the outskirts of Myitkyina, Kachin State. He was initially accused of involvement in a bomb explosion and later charged as a KIA captain under Article 17(1) of the Unlawful Associations Act.

Daw Ze Nyoi said during the interrogation, her husband was burned on his face, abdomen, and eyes. He was stabbed several times in both thighs and suffered wounds to his head and legs. She said it was difficult to recognize his face after what was done to him.

She attended 64 trials over the course of a year from the IDP camp while her husband was detained. He was forced to make a false confession and sentenced to two years with hard labor on July 18 but released after a week when he was granted amnesty.

Daw Ze Nyoi addresses the audience at a panel discussion, while three other survivors share their experiences. (Chanson/ The Irrawaddy)

“I can’t sleep and eat when others do. I became a fishmonger and also sold vegetables when it was hard to get fish. My life was so hard,” she said.

She said her husband is no longer in good health and cannot work, but they have to spend about 40,000 kyats every week for his medicines.

“I would like to request support for the families of victims of torture,” she told the audience at the event, where lawmakers, former political prisoners, survivors of torture and their families gathered.

The event was held by Vimutti Women’s Organization (VWO), the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), Women’s League of Burma (WLB), Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) and the Network for Human Rights Documentation-Burma.

The five organizations called for an end to torture, the rehabilitation of survivors and the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) in a joint statement released on Monday.

Celebrations to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture were also held in Irrawaddy Division’s Bogale and Monywa in Sagaing Division.

“Torture is not a practice of the past. It continues to be used in Myanmar,” Aung Myo Kyaw from the AAPP said, adding that this event was held to address the ongoing problem and the needs of survivors.

He said despite torture being carried out by state and non-state actors, action is rarely taken against the perpetrators.

Other survivors of torture, including former political prisoners, shared their experiences at the event and called for justice for the victims, for stopping the practice of torture and for the release of all remaining political prisoners.