Following fatal parcel bomb explosions at Yangon’s Insein Prison on Wednesday morning, Obo Prison in Mandalay banned parcel deliveries to inmates around noon the same day, according to sources close to the Correctional Department.
Three prison staff and five visitors died and others were injured after explosions hit a crowd queueing to drop off parcels for inmates at Insein Prison on Wednesday, said the junta statement.
Obo prison had been accepting parcels in the morning but banned the practice at noon, a resident of Mandalay’s Maha Aung Myay Township told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.
“They didn’t give a reason and didn’t say how long the ban will be in effect. I always send parcels on Wednesday to my brother who is imprisoned for incitement. But I could not send one today,” the resident said.
A former political prisoner from Mandalay said the ban was possibly triggered by the explosions at Insein Jail.
“Inmates mainly rely on supplies sent by their relatives. But some political prisoners do not get supplies regularly from their relatives because of financial hardship. So, those who receive regular supplies share them. The ban on parcels is an act of oppression and a serious rights violation against prisoners who have already been cut off from the outside world and are not allowed visits from their families,” he said.
The ban will not only affect political prisoners but also inmates convicted of other crimes, with those on medication for health problems especially at risk, he added.
Prison visits have been banned at Obo Prison since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in Myanmar in 2020. Parcels are accepted twice daily from Monday to Friday. Security was however not visibly tightened around Obo Prison on Wednesday, according to Mandalay residents.
Obo, Mandalay’s central jail, is among prisons notorious in Myanmar for torture and abuse of political detainees.
Located in Aungmyaythazan Township, it currently houses around 7,000 inmates, many of whom are political detainees charged and imprisoned for opposing the coup.