Gunshots heard from Obo prison after inmates stage protest on 1988 anniversary 

Authorities at Mandalay’s Obo prison say they will punish inmates who staged a protest there on the 33rd anniversary of the 1988 democratic uprising, amid reports that the ensuing crackdown involved gunshots and protesters were beaten and put in solitary confinement. 

Chan Aye Kyaw, deputy director of the prisons department, told RFA that around 30-40 inmates started chanting slogans and singing songs at 9pm on Sunday and the protest lasted for roughly five minutes. 

He rejected reports that the protesters had been injured and put in isolation. “We are trying to find out who was involved in the shouting and singing, that’s all,” he told the broadcaster. Prison authorities did not answer calls from Myanmar Now seeking comment. 

Prison officials appear to have tried to drown out the protest by playing Buddhist sermons on CDs through loudspeakers. 

“We heard them chanting at around 9pm,” said a man who lives near the prison, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Then the sound of Dhamma CDs came shortly after. Then there were two gunshots. It lasted for around 30 minutes. It all stopped after 9.30pm.” 

On July 23, inmates at Yangon’s Insein prison staged a protest to demand better protection from surging Covid-19 infections, raising fears of a violent crackdown. It is believed that the virus is running rampant through Myanmar’s crowded prisons. 

A doctor detained for opposing the junta died on Sunday after contracting Covid-19 in detention and being denied proper treatment, according to a colleague of his.  

An officer from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, who asked not to be named, told Myanmar Now the junta was committing severe human rights abuses against prisoners, many of which went unreported. 

“The military council is known for always keeping civilians in the dark so that they can get away with their abuses of power,” he said. “If they were doing things lawfully, they’d have no reason to block out all the media.”

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