Three Inmates Who Live-Streamed Shwebo Prison Riot Punished

By Htet Khaung Lin 14 May 2019

YANGON—Three inmates who live-streamed a riot in Shwebo Prison on Facebook last week had their sentences extended by six months under the Prison Act and face new charges under the Electronics Act.

A spokesperson for the Prisons Department told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the three inmates from Shwebo Prison were sentenced to an additional six months on Monday for violating Section 42 of the Prison Act by breaking the rules and regulations of the prison.

The Prisons Department is also preparing to sue the trio under the Electronics Act, U Min Tun Soe said.

“Apart from the Prisons Act, we are going to sue the three inmates who live-streamed video of the prison riot on a social network under Section 33(a) of the Electronics Act,” the spokesperson said.

Under Section 33(a), actions that could harm national security, rule of law, regional peace and stability, unity, national economy and culture, and sending and circulating news that affects national secrets shall be punished by up to seven years in prison.

The spokesperson also stated that a prison employee who provided the mobile phone to the inmates was also punished, but did not provide details of the punishment.

“A team from Naypyitaw is investigating the riot. The team has questioned the prison superintendent, all prison staff and the inmates. In the coming week, we will be able to announce whether the prison authorities will face punishment,” the spokesperson said.

After more than 6,000 inmates were released from prisons across the country under presidential pardons on May 7, riots broke out at seven prisons, including Shwebo Prison in Sagaing Division.

During the riot in Shwebo Prison on the afternoon of May 8, an inmate live-streamed video of the disturbance on Facebook as soon as it erupted.

In that live video, the inmate who shot the video said the riot in the prison had begun and the inmates were shouting out slogans urging the government to give an amnesty to all inmates.

The inmate also live-streamed a confrontation with prison authorities, shootings by the prison guards, and footage of the inmates who were injured and later died.

On May 9, another inmate live-streamed police and prison authorities firing tear gas grenades to disperse the rioters.

During the riot at Shwebo Prison, four inmates were shot dead and two were injured.

Presidential pardons were announced on April 17 (Myanmar New Year’s Day), April 26 and May 7. More than 23,000 inmates were released from prisons across the country.

According to the Prisons Department, 75 percent of those released were drug offenders.