Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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Interview with political prisoner

Torture experiences by Burmese political prisoner

When were you sent to the prison and why?

I have to talk about my background first. I graduated in 1986 majoring in history and prepared to continue for my Master's Degree. In 1988, I participated in the demonstration along with many other students in Yangon and fled to Thailand. On the way back to Burma in 1991 with some documents given by the ethnic leaders, I was arrested in 1991. I was sentenced to death accused of being State’s revolutionary. This was later changed to 20 years imprisonment because of the many efforts of religious leaders. As there are many violations outside the prison, you can imagine how worse the human rights violations in inside prison.

What are your experiences in the prison? What about the others’ experiences?

We were all tortured. Not only political prisoners but also other criminal prisoners had been tortured in different ways. When we complained about the injustice to the authority, we were beaten. Most of the prisoners in the prison are children. They have been sent to the prisons because they tried to escape from the government army. These children have been abused sexually. Some of the criminal prisoner bribed the authorities to be able to abuse these children sexually.

And if some criminal looked at the authority brutally, the authority beat them unconscious. My friends and I wrote about that and tried to send it to outside, but the letter was caught by the authority and I was put in solitary for 3 months. Criminal prisoners had been beaten everyday. I had only been beaten three or four times a week. In 24 June 1994, I changed to another prison. They had been governing the prisoners like a jackass. Later on, I was tortured because I did a hunger strike because of some unsatisfied reason. I had been changing the prisons all the times. Once I had been in the prison where malaria was wide spread.

In 2000, the International Committee of the Red Cross had access to Burmese prisons and donated required medicines. But prison’s staff sold them instead of giving them to the prisoners. Criminal prisoners complained about their experiences in the prisoners to the ICRC during their visits. When ICRC went back, criminal prisoners were beaten till their teeth fell out from their mouths. When the ICRC came back again to the prisons, the prisoners did not dare to talk about their problems to them. They were even afraid of ICRC.

Were all kinds of torture they use bad?

There are so many rural prisons in Kalay, Chin States, and Western Burma. Prisoners had not had enough food. In addition to that, they had been beaten when they were weak because of illness gain by malaria. At least 20 prisoners had died a month in all of the prisons. Some prisoners committed suicide. The prisoners’ authorities used to say “You are not human being, you are just a prisoner”. Most of the prisoners were not criminal but they were deserters. If you really want to see how bad torture is in the prison, just watch the movie which is about Nazi Germany and the Jews. It is like that. I was released late 2008. I have been watched all time even though I was released. I fled to Thailand finally.


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