AAPP Concerned for the Safety of Political Prisoners Detained with Violent Criminals (2011)
14 February 2011
AAPP has received reports of violence and abuse in room (3), Ward (1), Insein prison. Ko Khaing Kyaw Moe, a member of the All Arakan Student Youth Congress (AASYC), fears for his life after a criminal prisoner violently attacked a prisoner he is friends with. The attack left the prisoner hospitalised. The violent prisoner routinely harasses and bullies Khaing Kyaw Moe, a source reveals, though Khaing Kyaw Moe does nothing to provoke him and never fights back.
Ko Khaing Kyaw Moe was arrested, along with ten other young men, in September 2009 for links with an unlawful association. While the other members of AASYC are detained in Special Cell Block, where political prisoners are usually held, Ko Khaing Kyaw Moe and Ko Kyaw Win remain in Ward (1), a large communal cell. The communal cells in Insein Prison house over one hundred prisoners and are grossly overcrowded. The conditions in these halls are dire and violence and abuse common. Ko Khaing Kyaw Moe is also sick and is suffering from piles and rectal bleeding. He is in desperate need of medical care, which he has not received.
“Both Ko Khaing Kyaw Moe and Ko Kyaw Win are worried they will be attacked. Ko Khaing Kyaw Moe said that anyone could attack him at any time. He is scared they will kill him. Despite repeatedly complaining to the jailer about the threats, nothing has been done to remedy the situation. We fear not only for his physical safety but also his mental wellbeing. This is psychological torture and while he is trying to cope he indicated that he is not sure how much longer he can stand it”, said Bo Kyi, Joint-secretary of AAPP.
Political prisoner, Phyo Wai Aung, wrongfully imprisoned for the 2010 water festival bombing in Rangoon, has reported similar abuse. After witnessing a criminal prisoner beating and torturing other prisoners on a regular basis, he complained to the prison authorities. The abusive criminal is actually the ‘prisoner-in-charge’ and works with the prison warden’s acquiescence. Phyo Wai Aung described feeling very scared and unsafe living with such criminals, some of whom are murderers.
“A hierarchical system of power develops among the criminals. The criminals are often used by the authorities to threaten, intimidate and beat political prisoners. In other cases, the authorities turn a blind eye to the abuse that is occurring”, Bo Kyi said.
Rather than investigating and ending the abuse, the authorities have punished Phyo Wai Aung. On 4 February, he was placed in the ‘dog cell’; a punishment cell once used to house the military dogs. The conditions in these cells are worse than ordinary cells and prisoners are at real risk of torture there.
“AAPP has documented political prisoners beaten to death by violent criminals in full view of the prison guards. Such crimes were never investigated. The authorities must put an end to this abuse before more lives are lost”, Bo Kyi said.
Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma)
For more information –
Tate Naing (Secretary): +66 (0) 812 878 751
Bo Kyi (Joint Secretary); +66 (0) 819 628 713