Source: www.irrawaddy.com : 2022-06-14 10:23:38 : Ko Sai
Insein Prison. / The Irrawaddy
By The Irrawaddy 14 June 2022
More than 10 people held in Yangon’s Insein Prison by Myanmar’s military regime for anti-junta activities were injured in a beating by the prison authorities, according to sources close to the prison where hundreds of activists are being held and face prosecution.
Some political prisoners from Thabyay ward in Insein staged a hunger strike on June 8 against the junta’s decision to execute four dissidents, including prominent 88 Generation student leader Ko Jimmy and National League for Democracy lawmaker Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw.
Some also complained about forced labor to a director of the Correctional Department who visited the prison the following day.
Prison officers were angry with their complaints and ordered staff and criminal inmates to beat 11 political prisoners who made complaints.
One of them had a rib cracked, another had his forearm broken and another had his nose torn. Among the torture victims were a priest, doctor, lawyer and engineer.
The Thabyay warden reportedly told political prisoners: “You can report your beating. We just need a piece of paper [to show our commanders] why you died.” Prison staff also reportedly swore and made threats.
The prisoners’ health conditions are unknown. Those who participated in the hunger strike have been moved to other wards, said a source.
“They were forced to work on prison farms for 12 hours a day. They were told to pay 150,000 kyats if they don’t want to work on the farm. If they refused, they were forced to sleep in a crowded cell. Around 120 prisoners were in a cell which can only hold 60 people,” said the source.
The prison authorities have cut off electricity and water to the women’s ward since a strike, forcing inmates to drink toilet water. Many are suffering from diarrhea.
Last month, the prison authorities failed to take a pregnant woman having a difficult labor to hospital and the baby was stillborn, prompting women detainees to strike.
Sources said the woman who lost her baby and her husband were prosecuted and jailed on political charges. Their details are unknown.
A former prison officer said: “I suspect that they are deliberately and systematically torturing political prisoners. I never saw such awful things when I worked in the prison. They appear to be trying to inflict permanent trauma on inmates.”
Prison commander Zaw Lin Aung and supervisor Aung Ko Oo are responsible for torture in Insein, said sources. Several criminal inmates are involved in beating political prisoners at the instruction of Zaw Lin Aung and Aung Ko Ko, said sources.
Zaw Lin Aung is a former military officer who was transferred to the Correctional Department after the 2021 coup. Observers said the regime has replaced civilian staff with military personnel in prisons across the country to torture political prisoners.
The torture of political prisoners has been the most severe at Insein, Obo Prison in Mandalay, Monywa Prison in Sagaing and Hpa-an Prison in Karen State, according to observers.
On June 6, when political prisoners raised objections to a plan to keep them with convicted criminals in Hpa-an, the authorities fired warning shots and attacked with catapults and bamboo sticks, injuring around 60 political prisoners.
Political prisoners were beaten following a brawl in Obo on June 5. Two political prisoners were stabbed by prison staff and at least 10 others were injured. Political prisoners were subsequently kept in solitary confinement.
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