Myanmar Political Prisoners Launch Hunger Strike After Fellow Inmates Disappear From Cells

By The Irrawaddy 23 May 2023

Political prisoners in Mandalay’s Myingyan Prison are staging a hunger strike after prison authorities forcibly removed eight political prisoners from their cells for interrogation, according to a local strike committee.

Monywa People’s Strike Committee said in a statement that two political prisoners, Ko Kyaw Min Naing and Ko Thet Maung Maung, were taken from their cells at around 5 p.m. on Sunday, followed a few hours later by Ko Kyaw Myo Tint and Ko Zaw Zaw Aung, and by Ko Okka at around 11 p.m. on the same day. Ko Kyaw Myo Tint and Ko Zaw Zaw Aung were earlier transferred to Myingyan Prison from Mandalay’s Obo Prison.

On Monday morning, two others, Ko Kyaw Tint Oo and Ko Aung Myo Thant, were also dragged away, he said.

Ko Shin Thant, a leading committee member and a former political prisoner who was detained in Myingyan Prison for nearly two years, said the committee has received reports from sources inside the prison that the detainees were being beaten and that one of them, Ko Okka, was beaten to death, but his body had not been seen or returned.

One prisoner was returned to their cell on Monday but another political inmate was removed, according to local strike committees.

Ko Shin Thant said that aside from the report that Ko Okka had been killed, the condition and whereabouts of the other missing prisoners remained unknown.

The reason for the removals is still unclear.

The Irrawaddy couldn’t independently verify the reports.

Myingyan People’s Strike Committee also reported accounts of political inmates being dragged away to unknown locations since Sunday.

The whereabouts and conditions of the political inmates removed from their cells since Sunday remain unknown, the group stated on Tuesday, raising concerns for their lives and for the futures of the other political inmates.

Ko Shin Thant of Monywa People’s Strike Committee said the prison is currently heavily guarded by police and junta soldiers, and that regular inmates were under lockdown on Monday, confined to their cells.

The political detainees in Myingyan Prison are staging a hunger strike, refusing food provided by the prison, demanding to know what happened to the inmates who had been removed.

“For now, we haven’t yet received any more updates of what is happening behind bars,” he added.

Myingyan Prison houses more than 250 political prisoners detained since the 2021 coup.

Since the military takeover, at least 3,562 people have been killed and 22,600 civilians have been arrested, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Of them, 18,309 remain behind bars.