Myanmar Junta Denies Medical Treatment to Political Prisoners

By The Irrawaddy 18 February 2022

Political prisoners detained in Yangon’s Insein Prison say that they are being denied proper medical treatment for injuries caused by junta beatings, and many are now at risk of developing serious health complications.

A letter sent on behalf of political prisoners detained at Insein circulated on social media on Wednesday. In it, a political prisoner details the condition of his ailing fellow detainees and urges local and foreign organizations to help provide proper medical treatment and medical supplies for those jailed by the military regime.

One detainee who suffered a stroke is not receiving any proper treatment in the prison hospital, and prison authorities have denied him access to treatment at an outside hospital, said the letter. Another prisoner who often loses consciousness after his nerves were damaged in a junta beating is not receiving any treatment, it added.

Ma Mya Kyu Kyu Thin, a female protester who was detained in December, is suffering from persistent headaches and nose bleeds after being beaten during her arrest. She has only been allowed to receive treatment at the prison hospital.

“We know these cases only because they happened before our eyes. We don’t know how many other similar cases have happened without our knowledge. These cases are testimony to the lack of responsibility shown by the prison authorities and the regime,” the letter said.

An engineering student and Red Cross member, Ma Mya Kyu Kyu Thin was one of several protesters injured when a junta vehicle rammed a flash mob protest in Yangon’s Kyimyindaing Township. She also suffered head injuries when regime forces beat the demonstrators.

“She wants to receive treatment at an outside hospital because she was hit in her head and she wants to have a CT scan. CT scans are not available at the prison hospital. But she has been denied treatment at an outside hospital,” said her lawyer.

An x-ray has revealed that certain nerves in her brain have been damaged, said the lawyer. Ma Hmu Yadanar, who was detained along with Ma Mya Kyu Kyu Thin, had her left leg broken and is being detained at Kyimyindaing Township police station with her leg in a cast.

At Dawei Prison in southern Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region, Ma Khin Kay Khaing is in urgent need of treatment for stomach problems as her condition is worsening as a result of the prison food and a lack of proper healthcare, according to the Dawei Political Prisoners Network. Ma Khin Kay Khaing was sentenced to seven years in jail for anti-regime activities.

“She is in a serious condition. The prison authorities have a responsibility to provide treatment as per the rights for prisoners. But they just give out painkillers. Her life could be at risk if her condition gets worse,” said a member of the Dawei Political Prisoners Network.

One lawyer acting for detained activists said: “As everyone knows, there is no healthcare service in prison. I heard paracetamol is the only medicine available in prison. The detainees have told me that many of them have fallen sick with COVID-19 symptoms. Like in the past, the majority of prisoners do not have full access to healthcare services. They are still being denied fundamental human rights and basic healthcare facilities.”

Restrictions and rights violations have increased in Insein Prison since last June, when civilian wardens were replaced by military personnel, a former political prisoner told The Irrawaddy.

“Most importantly, healthcare services have significantly deteriorated. I am afraid they [the junta] are doing this deliberately. [Prison authorities] have been displaying a more negative attitude towards political prisoners,” said the former prisoner.

The parallel civilian National Unity Government (NUG) said it has been monitoring prison conditions under the military regime, and has received evidence of torture and extrajudicial killings in jails in September, November and December last year. Action is being taken to hold the perpetrators accountable, the NUG said.

As of February 15, 1,557 people including children have been killed by the junta since last year’s coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. More than 9,100 people have been detained, with over 700 of them given prison sentences.

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