Myanmar Students Union Fears for Tortured Prisoners

By The Irrawaddy 15 December 2021

The All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) has expressed concern for prisoners who were brutally beaten and held in solitary confinement in Yangon’s Insein Prison for joining the nationwide silent strike last week.

Last Friday, Myanmar shut down in a silent strike to mark International Human Rights Day. Political prisoners in Insein joined the strike as others stayed at home in opposition to military rule.

Lawyers acting for detained students said they saw bruises on their clients at their recent court hearings inside the prison.

“I saw nasty bruises on a detainee who was held in solitary confinement for joining the strike. [Detainees] said they were mostly beaten on their backs,” said a lawyer.

Young activists, who were detained separately at Insein, mainly took part in the silent strike. Around 89 political prisoners and detainees, including the ABFSU vice-chair Ko Wai Yan Phyo Moe, Yangon Education University Students Union vice-chair Ko Zaw Htet Naing and Yangon University Students Union member Ko Lay Pyay Soe Moe, were beaten and held in isolation in the main jail.

According to student unions, some detainees lost consciousness during their beatings. They were denied medical treatment, held in solitary confinement and their families were not allowed to visit.

“We have heard a few months ago that the military regime is violating their rights and often tortures them. Detainees are regularly having their rights violated,” said Ko Nan Lin, a former student union member.

Ko Bo Kyi from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners rights group said prison conditions have deteriorated under the junta. He said the prison authorities are inflicting extrajudicial punishments and forcing inmates into acts that violate human dignity. They torture inmates out of grudges, violate international law and squeeze money from them, he claimed.

“Prison guards enthusiastically torture. Conditions are worse under the military regime. Guards will be held accountable in the future,” said Ko Bo Kyi.

The regime has changed the law to suppress the anti-regime movement. In June, it replaced Insein’s staff, including civilian wardens, with military personnel.

Restrictions and rights violations have increased in Insein since the replacement of civilian wardens with military personnel, detainees told their lawyers.

Numerous political prisoners, including Ko Zaw Htet Naing, were placed in solitary confinement in July after they staged a protest against military rule.

“Prison guards are violating rights and torturing prisoners. There is a lot of bribery. There is total impunity. We condemn it,” said Ko Nan Lin.

Student unions have called for the beaten detainees to receive medical treatment and for all political prisoners to be unconditionally released.

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