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Political Prisoners held in Hpa-an Jail are Tortured, Denied Access to Medical Treatment, Family Visits and Clean Drinking Water

Disturbing reports are emerging from Hpa-an Jail of political prisoners been beaten, tortured denied medical treatment and family visits.

In Hpa-an Prison, Karen state, many people have been injured as the prison staff closed the doors and tortured political prisoners. Karen News investigated that during those days, the conjugal visits were closed, and prisoners were not allowed to get medical treatment.

A source at the jail told Karen News, “I know, all prisoners were locked in and shot by slingshots. Many were severely injured. I heard they were also not given food.”

On June 4, two prisoners escaped from the prison compound with ropes. The source said political prisoners were later beaten and tortured as they did not accept being relocated to another area within the jail.

A family member of a political prisoner told Karen News as a result family visits were denied.
“Families couldn’t send items to the prisoners for two days. We could not send supplies and food to prisoners. If we send money, it often doesn’t arrive and if it does arrive, it will not be the full amount.”

Political detainees only had unclean water to use and drink and as a result had skin rashes. They were denied treatment by the prison and had to wait for medicines to be sent from outside.

An unnamed source close to the political prisoners told Karen News that the prisoners wanted the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) to help them as there had been several human rights violations in Hpa-an Prison, also known as Taungkalay Prison.

To protest against the human rights abuses, political prisoners have been singing political anthems every day. Prison officials and prison staff responded by playing loud religious music to cover up the protest songs and to prevent the public hearing.

On May 8, 66 political prisoners were transferred from Hpa-an to Mon State. The protesters inside the prison were beaten by prison officials, and 17 were put in darkened cells with chains on their legs. According to sources related to prison, the tight metal shackles caused bruises on the political prisoner’s legs.

A source said, “the 17 prisoners were held in six feet, ten feet rooms in groups of 6 or 7. The water was not clean, and the rooms were unlit. The roof was made with galvanized iron sheets that had holes in it. Prisoners had to sleep in the wet from the rain. The holes in the iron sheet gave some light, but allowed mosquitoes insects in. The chains were not removed even while sleeping.”

Prison sources said it was only political activists who were transferred from Karen State to Mon State, and that new wardens and prison doctors were appointed after the transfer. The Hpa-an University Students’ Union posted on its social media page that human rights abuses in Hpa-an Prison escalated after a new Warden, U Hla Swe was appointed to Hpa-an Prison.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) Secretary Ko Tate Naing explained to Karen News that “after the military coup in February 2022, the prisons in Myanmar were transformed into military concentration camps. Every prisoner is being subjected to violent persecution in ways that go beyond human rights abuses. They do not receive medical treatment for infections and illnesses caused by their poor living conditions and lack of food and clean water. What is worse is that they are abused for no reason. These abuses are happening in almost every prison.

Ko Tate Naing emphasized it is important the United Nations and human rights organizations monitor the situation in prisons as international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), are being tightly controlled and what they can do is restricted. Ko Tate Naing urged immediate actions to address human rights abuses be taken as the lives of political prisoners in Burma’s prisons are under threat.

Political prisoners who are sentenced are required to wear prison uniforms; longyi and blue shirt for men and yogi longyi and white shirt for women. A source close to the family of a prisoner said (prisoners) have to buy the uniforms themselves from the prison staff.

The source told Karen News; “The prison does not provide uniforms. Prisoners need to buy it themselves. Drinking water is not clean. The water for use is also not clean. There is also a problem of insufficient water. Drinking water is also sold in the prison.”

According to Karen News sources, in 2022there are as many as 400 political prisoners detained at Hpa-an Prison, including people arrested and sentenced under section 505 (a), people not sentenced yet, and people arrested and charged with section 52 (a), 50 (j), 51(c) of Ani-Terrorism Act.

Sources claim, prison officials and staff that they had been given orders that they could shoot political prisoners in Hpa-an prison if they refuse to obey instructions.

A family source said, “No political detainees arrested in 2022 have been released. All the people arrested are imprisoned whether there is evidence or not.”

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