Prison authorities at Myingyan Prison in Mandalay’s Myingyan Township are torturing political prisoners, said prison sources.
Most of those being tortured are inmates moved from Sagaing Region’s Monywa Prison in April, according to prison staff.
“Once political prisoners from Monywa arrived at Myingyan Prison, they were brutally beaten at the main entrance as prison authorities wanted to give them a first impression of what life inside Myingyan Prison is like. By doing that, they wanted to instill a sense of powerlessness in them,” said a prison source.
Since April, political prisoners have been subjected to both physical and psychological torture, said prison sources. They are forced to stand in a line as prison staff beat and kick their faces and bodies one after another. They are also forced to squat and listen to prison staff raving about the Myanmar military, shouting obscenities and cursing the resistance movement.
On Monday, Ko Zin Min Htet, a former head of the Monywa Technological University Students Union, was beaten until he passed out, a spokesperson for the Monywa Strike Committee told The Irrawaddy.
“We have heard about these cases from prison staff who are watermelons [a term referring to junta soldiers and police who are secret supporters of the pro-democracy movement],” said the spokesperson.
While the jail staff who carry out the torture are usually acting on orders from prison authorities, at least three senior prison officials, including associate warden Win Kyaing, are personally involved in the torture, prison sources revealed.
Former political prisoner U Tun Kyi said: “They are licensed to beat political prisoners. Prison officials always try to find faults with everything prisoners do. We have to sit, conform and bathe according to their strict instructions. They treat humans worse than animals. They impose tough restrictions on your daily life, which finally inflict a mental breakdown.”
In Myingyan Prison’s women’s ward, female political prisoners who have fallen sick have been denied medical treatment. They have been forced to give monthly bribes of 25,000 kyats (US$12) to prison officer Daw Myint Myint Zaw to be spared from forced labor.
Strike committees have urged international organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit prisons across Myanmar under the International Humanitarian Law.
However, the military regime has rejected the ICRC’s request to resume its prison visits and other humanitarian activities and to allow family visits to political prisoners.
Over 100 political prisoners were transferred from Monywa Prison to Mandalay’s Myingyan and Obo jails. Among them were student union leaders on the Monywa Strike Committee, students and anti-coup protesters.
Other political prisoners were moved from Monywa to Myingyan Prison in August. They include the deposed Sagaing Region Chief Minister Dr. Zaw Myint Naing.
12,444 people have been detained by the junta since last year’s coup as of September 20, with 1,477 of them receiving prison sentences, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.