Myanmar junta’s political prisoners up to 10,000 since coup

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Up to 10,000 political prisoners have been detained by Myanmar military junta since it seized power 14 month ago, a rights organisation that monitors detentions said Thursday (Mar. 31).

The group said many of the prisoners have been tortured and are being held in deplorable conditions.

“The regime’s crackdown has been so harsh that more political prisoners are now being held in Myanmar than were imprisoned in total throughout the half-century of military rule that ended in 2010,” said Mr. Aung Myo Kyaw, spokesperson for the rights group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

“We have the largest number of political prisoners in Myanmar’s history in barely a year,” he said.

Myanmar reached the grim milestone of 10,000 political prisoners held at a single time as the regime continues to imprison suspected opponents at a rate of about 20 people a day, according to AAPP, which has closely tracked arrests since the coup on 01 February last year.

That figure does not include the more than 3,000 political prisoners who were arrested and released, often after enduring brutal interrogations and many months in prison. Nearly 2,000 more opponents of the regime are evading arrest warrants, including many who have fled to the jungle to join an armed resistance against the junta.

While celebrating Armed Forces Day on Sunday, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the coup, called opponents of the regime “terrorists” and vowed to “annihilate them to an end.” On the same holiday honouring the military a year ago, the security forces killed at least 114 protesters during its deadliest day since taking power.

Not long ago, Western countries had high hopes for democracy in Myanmar. (Source: The Straits Times)

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