Fresh evidence emerges of brutal torture of prisoners inside Mandalay Palace

Myanmar Now has obtained a medical prescription that offers strong evidence of the torture of anti-coup protesters inside the Myanmar junta’s notorious Mandalay Palace interrogation centre.

In a statement released last Thursday, the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) said that it had evidence that three of its members had been tortured by having bamboo sticks thrust inside their rectums.

Myanmar Now asked to see this evidence and consulted with a medical expert to determine whether it does, in fact, offer proof of such abusive treatment, which can only be described as an extreme form of torture.

According to the ABFSU, the three prisoners in question are Myat Thu, 22, of the Yadanabon University Students’ Union, arrested on July 4 for leading anti-coup protests; Soe Thura Kyaw (aka Poet Thar Shar), 27, a member of the General Strike Committee of Basic Education Workers, detained since September 24; and Thurein Moe (aka Sai Ban Kha), 24, an executive member of Yadanabon University Students’ Union whose exact date of arrest was not available.

All three were said to have been subjected to the same form of torture and have also been denied treatment for their injuries, which have caused them immense suffering and could be life-threatening.

“During interrogation, they had bamboo sticks thrust up their rectums when they were being asked questions. Our students suffered more than a slap across the face. They were sexually assaulted,” said an ABFSU information officer who spoke to Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.

The ABFSU said it learned of the abuse inflicted upon its members from people who were helping them with their injuries. It added that it disclosed information about the victims’ identities with the consent of their families, in the interests of ensuring that the International Committee of the Red Cross acts to protect them from further mistreatment.

Myanmar Now showed the prescription for one of the victims to a medical doctor to ask if the prescribed items were likely for the sort of injuries that sources close to the victims’ families had described. The prescription lists six items: Lorix Plus cream, Flumox, Septidine, Diltigesic, Daflon and milk of magnesia.

According to the doctor, the Lorix Plus cream is used for the prevention of scabies and other infections, Flumox is an antibiotic, and Septidine is an antiseptic. All three can be used to treat a number of conditions, while milk of magnesia is widely used to relieve constipation. However, Daflon and Diltigesic are both primarily used for the treatment of anal fissures and other injuries to the anus.

The doctor added that inserting a foreign object such as a piece of bamboo into a person’s rectum could indeed be life-threatening, depending on a number of factors.

“The severity of the injury depends on the location and depth of insertion. I don’t know the size of the bamboo stick, but at the very least, the victims would suffer from anal tears,” he observed.

“It can be fatal if the bowel is perforated. This torture is beyond the interrogation level, and totally unacceptable,” he added.

The ABFSU said that it was extremely concerned about the health of its three members and called on the authorities to provide them with immediate medical attention.

“They have been denied medical treatment and are still suffering from their injuries. I want them to get comprehensive medical care,” said the group’s information officer.

He added that the ABFSU is also worried about the safety of a number of other members who are still in the regime’s custody and whose current whereabouts are unknown.

Among those who have not been heard from since their arrest are student activists Aye Nandar Soe, Naung Htet Aung and Yan Soe Paing and lecturers Thet Su Hlaing and Naing Thiha Kyaw.

Myanmar’s military has arrested more than 10,000 people since it seized power in a coup 11 months ago, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which also claims that hundreds have been tortured to death in regime custody.

The junta has accused the AAPP, an advocacy group based in exile, of exaggerating the numbers of those detained and killed by the regime, but has yet to provide its own figures.

The interrogation centre inside Mandalay Palace is regarded as one of the most notorious in the country. Countless regime opponents, including monks, have been subjected to cruel and degrading torture there. 

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