Myanmar: Medical aid denied to beaten detainees who joined ‘Silent Strike’ protest


Myanmar officials of Insein Prison refused to allow medical treatment of detainees who were brutally beaten a week ago during a nationwide “Silent Strike” protest against the country’s ruling military junta.

The detainees’ relatives and lawyers said Friday that nearly 90 political prisoners showed their solidarity with nationwide demonstrations by staying in their cells after morning roll call and singing the protest song “Our Pledge in Blood”.

Authorities at the infamous Yangon detention facility attacked the prisoners for joining the Silent Strike, which was held on Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. The strike left many cities and towns empty as citizens stayed home in protest of the military regime and its brutal crackdown following its Feb. 1 coup.

At Yangon’s Insein, prison authorities threw strike organizers into solitary confinement and shackled their legs, sources close to the prisoners told RFA in an earlier report.

Some of the prisoners were critically wounded but were denied medical care, while some female prisoners were subjected to sexual harassment, sources said.

A pro-democracy student leader who had joined the prison strike suffered critical head and back injuries that were left untreated. He was instead placed in solitary confinement as punishment for participating, his family said.

SittNaing, vice chairman of the Yangon University of Education Students’ Union, who was involved in the Silent Strike in Insein Prison, is in critical condition, a relative said.

“As family members, we are worried about his life,” said the woman, who declined to give her name out of fear of retribution. “It is because he is not even allowed to apply medicine to the wounds, let alone receive medical treatment.

“We believe that his life is still in danger,” she added. “He urgently needs medical treatment.”

Wai Yan Phyo Moe, vice chairman of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, and Lay Pyay Soe Moe, spokesman for student rights for the Yangon University Students’ Union, were also severely beaten during the crackdown, family members said. They are reportedly being held in solitary confinement with their legs in shackles.

RFA could not reach Insein Prison officials or Myanmar’s Ministry of Justice. Ministries have not responded to media requests for comment since the coup, and only junta spokesmen can issue statements.

A spokesman for the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), a nonprofit human rights organization based in Mae Sot, Thailand, said refusing medical treatment to wounded detainees was a “grave violation of human rights” by prison authorities and that those responsible should be held accountable.

A lawyer representing some of the prisoners said the victims asked the court for their injuries to be recorded, but the court refused.

Junta spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun in an earlier report denied that there had been any protests inside Insein Prison.

Following the Silent Strike, prison authorities enacted stricter measures for detainees, transferring some to cells with criminals and other forms of repression that violated human rights, said Tun Kyi, a member of the Former Political Prisoners Society.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which used to make humanitarian visits to prisons until March 2020, is still waiting for permission to resume its prison activities.

On Friday, the AAPP reported that junta forces have killed 1,346 people and arrested 11,023 others since the Feb. 1 coup. (Source: RFA)