Myanmar junta prison staff have been beating and torturing female political prisoners held in Mandalay’s Obo Prison. At least 30 women detainees are now being held separately, after over 100 female inmates were injured by prison staff in January, according to a letter smuggled out of the jail.
The civilian National Unity Government (NUG) said that there was further violence against female inmates in Obo Prison in early February, with 20 women political prisoners seriously injured by jail staff.
The violence in January started when one female inmate was beaten up by prison staff after an argument over shower time on January 1, prompting jail officials to beat and torture inmates held in both the prison and the hospital wing.
“They used stun-guns, batons and a catapult against the prisoners. Some of the inmates covered themselves in blankets, but were still beaten,” the letter states.
After more than a hundred detainees were injured, the prisoners asked to meet with the head of Obo Prison to report the beatings. But the jail staff responded by moving 30 prisoners to another wing on January 5, and giving the female prisoners only rice and beans to eat, instead of the chicken and fish normally provided.
The women have also been banned from taking showers and are having to use water from the toilets to wash, the letter added.
“The prisoners were not only tortured, but are now being given little food,” the letter said.
The fate of the 30 women moved to another wing is unknown. Prison officials have played loud music from the wing, as a means of disguising the potential beating and torturing of the prisoners.
The letter from Obo Prison called for action to be taken against the prison staff and asked for help.
Mandalay Strike force is preparing to issue a statement about the violation of the prisoners’ human rights, according to a member.
All jails in Myanmar routinely violate the human rights of inmates, said former political prisoner U Tun Kyi.
“They [prison staff] entered the cells and beat the prisoners anytime they wished to. Human rights abuses in prisons are getting worse,” U Tun Kyi told The Irrawaddy.
Political prisoners have also seen family visits curtailed and restrictions on the supplies they can be sent.
More than a hundred female political prisoners in Obo Prison were also injured on February 3 and 4, when around 150 prison staff beat them after an argument between inmates, according to the NUG’s Ministry of Human Rights.
At least 20 prisoners were seriously injured and have been denied proper healthcare, added the NUG. The Ministry of Human Rights said that it feared that the female prisoners may be subjected to sexual violence in the coming days, citing reliable sources.
There are 44 prisons and 50 labor camps across Myanmar. Some 15,882 political detainees are currently being held by the military regime, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.