AAPP (2009) Burma’s Prisons and Labour Camps: Silent Killing Fields

In October 2008, reports emerged from Burma that the military junta had ordered itscourts to expedite the trials of
political activists. Since then, 357 activists have been handed down harsh punishments, including sentences of up to 104 years. 1 Shortly after sentencing, the regime began to systematically transfer political prisoners to prisons all around Burma, far from their families. This has a serious detrimental impact on both their physical and mental health. Medical supplies in prisons are wholly inadequate, and often only obtained through bribes to prison officials. It is left to the families to provide medicines, but prison transfers make it very difficult for them to visit their loved ones in jail. Prison transfers are also another form of psychological torture by the regime, aimed at both the prisoners and their families. Since Nov ember 2008, at least 228 political prisoners have been transferred to jails away from
their families.
2 The long-term consequences for the health of political prisoners recently transferred will be very serious.
At least 127 political prisoners are currently in poor health. At least 19 of them are in urgent need of proper medical treatment. Political prisoners’ right to healthcare is systematically denied by the regime. Burma’s health
care system in prisons is completely inadequate, especially in jails in remote areas. There are 44 prisons across Burma, and atleast 50 labour camps
3 . Some of them do not have a prison hospital, and at least 12 of the prisons do not even have a prison doctor
The regime’s treatment of political prisoners directly contravenes the 1957 UN standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) carried out its last prison visit in Burma in November 2005. In January 2006 the ICRC suspended prison visits in the country, as it was not allowed to fulfil its independent, impartial mandate.