Burma

Transgender Political Detainee Sexually Abused by Prison Officer in Upper Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 5 July 2022

A transgender prisoner detained in Sagaing Region’s Monywa Prison for anti-junta activities has been sexually abused by a prison officer, said LGBT Alliance-Myanmar.

Prison officer Zaw Zaw Aung, also known as Paline, forced the prisoner into performing oral sex on him on June 30 and also attempted to have anal sex, said the Monywa Strike Committee.

The LGBT Alliance-Myanmar issued a statement condemning the sexual assault. Justin Min Hein, a spokesperson for the LGBT Union Mandalay, said that the report came from credible sources inside Monywa Prison and that the group is making further inquiries.

The transgender prisoner was detained at home around one month ago and charged with incitement. The prisoner has reportedly been forced to wear male clothes while in jail.

Justin Min Hein said: “Anyone subjected to sexual violence, not just LGBT people, can be demoralized. We feel emotional and discouraged when we hear about such cases. I can’t help respecting the prisoner for having the courage to speak out about the abuse.”

The prison officer perpetrator reportedly often beats political prisoners when he is drunk.

“Similar things happen in other prisons across the country,” said a member of LGBT Alliance-Myanmar. The group said it would report the case to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and ask for its intervention.

In March, rights groups called on the ICRC to probe human rights violations in the country’s jails and the use of sexual violence against political prisoners.

However, the regime has rejected the ICRC’s request to resume its prison visits and other humanitarian activities and allow family visits. Prison visits by the ICRC and families of detainees have been suspended since March 2020, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former political prisoner U Tun Kyi said: “A prison officer sexually assaulting a LGBTQ person is not something unusual anymore. They do it as if it was part of their daily routine. They are officially licensed to do so. It is indisputably one of the worst and gravest human rights violations.”

Since the coup, female detainees have especially suffered from sexual abuse inside prisons, but sexual assaults on male and LGBTQ prisoners are on the increase.

In October last year, Shin Thant, an advocate for LGBTQ rights in Mandalay, was detained after junta troops rammed a car into her. The activist was sexually abused during her interrogation.

Over 20 LGBTQ detainees have experienced sexual assaults in prisons, according to sources.

LGBTIQ groups in Myanmar have actively participated in anti-regime protests since last year’s coup and so have been targeted by the military regime.

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