More than 30 political detainees are being interrogated by the prison authorities in Mandalay’s Obo Prison following a loud protest on Sunday night, according to Prison Department’s spokesman U Chan Aye Kyaw.
Joining anti-dictatorship protests held across the country to commemorate the 1988 uprising, inmates in Obo Prison, where numerous political prisoners are being held for their anti-regime activities, also defied the regime, yelling slogans inside the cells.
As the country marked the 33rd anniversary of the popular pro-democracy uprising on Sunday, which coincides with the current Spring Revolution, pro-democracy activists across the country marched and called on people to root out the military dictatorship.
Residents said they heard shouts from Obo prison. Some said they heard two shots when the detainees were singing “Blood Oath [Thway Thitsar]”, a popular protest song.
U Chan Aye Kyaw denied shots were fired.
However, a protest leader in Mandalay said the regime tried to cover up what was happening inside the prison by playing the video of the Buddhist monks reciting Dhamma prayers loudly during the protest.
Residents said they heard two shots and saw military trucks entering the compound. But the details remained unknown.
“Only around 40 prisoners were involved in the protest. They didn’t make any demands and just shouted slogans for a while and sang for 8888 day,” U Chan Aye Kyaw said, adding that those who took part in the protest are being interrogated. He rejected rumors that the participants were in isolation.
“The authorities are probing them. If there is any violation of prison rules found, they will be prosecuted,” he added.
Sunday night’s incident has led to concerns for the safety of prisoners, who are often denied their basic rights.
University of Mandalay Students’ Union released a statement condemning any torture and ill-treatment of political detainees after the protest.
The students’ union called for proper protection and treatment of COVID-19 as prisoners are reportedly dying in large numbers and for the unconditional release of all political prisoners
On Sunday morning, Dr. Maung Maung Nyein Tun, a 45-year-old surgical lecturer from Mandalay arrested by the regime in June died of COVID-19 as he did not receive timely treatment after he was infected while in detention.
Political detainees in Yangon’s Insein Prison, Obo Prison and Shwe Bo Prison in Sagaing Region protested on July 23. A lack of proper protection from and treatment of COVID-19 inside the prisons were the underlying reasons for the protests.
Thousands of elected leaders, lawmakers, young protesters and striking civil servants have been jailed since the coup.
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