Female Detainee Sexually Assaulted, Tortured During Interrogation: Former Cellmate

By The Irrawaddy 24 April 2021

A female detainee accused of involvement in a series of bombings has been sexually assaulted and tortured by junta forces at an interrogation center in Yangon and denied access to medical treatment for her injuries, according to a 17-year-old former detainee recently released from the same facility.

Two women—Ma Khin Nyein Thu, 31 and Ma Hsu Linn Htet, 19—and four men were arrested at a house in Yankin Township on April 17 following a series of deadly blasts that killed at least one soldier and wounded several others in Yangon. They have been held at the junta’s interrogation center in Shwepyithar Township, Yangon since April 18.

There, Ma Khin Nyein Thu has been sexually assaulted and severely tortured by junta forces since her arrest, according to 17-year-old anti-regime protester Ma Shwe Yamin Htet, who shared a cell with the victim and was recently released from the interrogation center because she is a minor. She made the revelations on her Facebook page on April 21, and is now in hiding.

On Thursday, she repeated the account of the junta’s sexual torture of Ma Khin Nyein Thu in an interview with RFA.

Ma Khin Nyein Thu has been beaten by the soldiers since her arrest, she said.

On April 17, after learning that her boyfriend is a foreigner, officers at the police station in Yankin forced Ma Khin Nyein Thu to open her legs, kicked her in the genitals and beat her on the genitals with a stick, Ma Shwe Yamin Htet said on her Facebook page.

“Her vagina was bleeding when she arrived to us at the interrogation center. But it was not caused by the menstrual cycle,” the girl said.

Ma Shwe Yamin Htet said Ma Khin Nyein Thu had been beaten over her whole body and can’t walk or eat properly due to the serious injuries caused by the torture.

“She can’t eat food as her lips are split open,” said Ma Shwe Yamin Htet, who witnessed the injuries.

She said Ma Khin Nyein Thu is being interrogated every day from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again throughout the night at the interrogation center in Shwepyithar.

Ma Khin Nyein Thu has been denied proper medical treatment for her injuries, the girl said.

“During the interrogation, she goes without food all day and night. She was not in good health [to begin with] as she was injured a lot [at the police station prior to being sent to the interrogation center]. Her life is at risk if she continues to be interrogated daily like this,” Ma Shwe Yamin Htet said in her interview.

Military-run media reported on April 18 that weapons, including homemade bombs, were seized with the six detainees including Ma Khin Nyein Thu. It also broadcast photos of the detainees indicating they had been badly beaten.

After learning that her daughter had been tortured at the police station, on April 18 Daw Hla Hla Soe, the mother of Ma Khin Nyein Thu, told The Irrawaddy, “I am praying for her. I don’t hope for much but I want her to live. I am praying for all of them to be saved by God.”

Ma Shwe Yamin Htet said she had seen that some of the male detainees could not walk well after they were interrogated in a separate room.

Ma Shwe Yamin Htet and her mother were arrested by junta forces on April 14 when they went outside to stage an anti-regime protest. They were both sent to the interrogation center in Shwephyithar from April 15-20.

She revealed she had faced sexual harassment and had her life threatened by a policeman while being interrogated at a police station in Sanchaung Township on April 14 before being sent to the interrogation center.

“Tapping me on my shoulder, the policeman said he could help me. After I struck his hand when he made a second attempt and called for a policewoman, he angrily responded that he could easily kill me and secretly dispose of my body,” the girl said in the interview.

As of Thursday, nearly 740 people had been killed by the military regime during crackdowns, raids, arrests and interrogations, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Those killed include anti-regime protesters, National League for Democracy (NLD) members, bystanders, pedestrians and local residents.

Meanwhile, more than 3,300 people including elected leaders, NLD party members, election commissioners, anti-regime protesters, journalists, doctors, writers, artists and civilians have been detained.

Amid the brutal killings and arrests, tens of thousands of people across Myanmar continue to take to the streets to protest military rule.

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