Myanmar Political Prisoners Escape in Taungoo Jailbreak

By The Irrawaddy 19 May 2023

Nine anti-Myanmar junta political prisoners escaped from Taungoo Prison on Thursday, the most significant jailbreak since the 2021 coup, according to resistance groups and pro-regime media.

Taungoo Prison in Taungoo Township, Bago Region is where ousted civilian President U Win Myint has been held since January.

Some ten political prisoners, including a woman and two inmates sentenced to death, escaped from a cell of the special court in Taungoo Prison during a trial after stealing weapons from the police, according to a leaked report from the junta-controlled Myanmar Correctional Department. Nine of the ten prisoners managed to escape the jail, taking with them four weapons seized from military regime forces.

A Myanmar military sergeant was killed and a former army sergeant injured in his leg during the jailbreak, said the Correctional Department’s report.

Locals told the media that pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militia are assigned to guard Taungoo Prison alongside the army and police as the junta does not have enough personnel to man the jail.

A junta soldier and Pyu Saw Htee militia member killed and injured on Thursday during the Taungoo Prison jailbreak. / Khit Thit Media

“Junta troops and Pyu Saw Htee militia chased and attacked the prisoners when they fled from the prison cell. They [the prisoners] got two more weapons after countering the regime forces and militia,” the spokesperson for Bago Region People’s Defense Force (PDF) told The Irrawaddy on Friday.

However, one prisoner was wounded in the escape and had to be left behind.

All nine escapees have now reached a liberated area in Bago Region controlled by a PDF, added Ko Wai Yan, Bago Region PDF spokesperson.

Taungoo District PDF, part of Bago Region PDF, and the allied Karen National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the Karen National Union, are also active in Taungoo Township.

“This is the voice of the people’s struggle as well as the struggle of our comrades who broke out of the prison. This escape is one of the important things during our revolution,” said Ko Wai Yan.

Last September, two political prisoners were rescued after a resistance group attacked a vehicle in Amarapura Township transporting them to Obo Prison in Mandalay from Kyaukse Police Station.

Five political prisoners including two resistance fighters also escaped in September 2022 during a jailbreak in Pakokku Township, Magwe Region.

At least ten political prisoners reportedly escaped in Hkamti Township, Sagaing Region last October.