At least 20 political prisoners in Mandalay Region’s Myingyan Prison have required medical treatment after being tortured while in solitary confinement, according to a prison source.
The prisoners were separated from the rest of the prison population three months ago on suspicion of using and hiding mobile phones.
“They were beaten pretty brutally. They had black bags put over their heads and their hands were cuffed behind their backs. Then they had to kneel as they were hit on their backs and thighs,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The prison authorities also used tasers to inflict further injuries on the prisoners, he added.
“It will take a long time to recover from the taser injuries,” he said, noting that some of the prisoners could no longer walk after being subjected to the sustained abuse.
Their ordeal began on May 21, when Tin Cho, a military officer who serves as the prison’s superintendent, decided to crack down on the use of phones smuggled into the prison by officials bribed by the prisoners’ families.
Two prison officers, Win Hlaing Soe and Myat Kyaw Thu, were assigned to oversee the “100-day project” to punish alleged offenders, according to Myanmar Now’s investigations.
More than 800 political prisoners, including both men and women, are being held in Myingyan Prison for their alleged anti-regime activities. Most are local youths opposed to the junta that seized power in February 2021.
The prison’s most prominent detainee is Dr. Myint Naing, the ousted chief minister of Sagaing Region, who was transferred there in August of last year after being convicted on multiple charges of corruption and sentenced to a total of 25 years behind bars.
A number of doctors who joined the Civil Disobedience Movement against military rule and a photojournalist named Zaw Zaw are also being held there, as are 17 youths from Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township who have been sentenced to death.
Among those who were placed in solitary confinement were Thet Maung Maung and Kyaw Gyi, both 28, who are serving long sentences for their alleged involvement in the anti-regime People’s Defence Force, and 51-year-old Kyaw Myo Tint, who has been sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment for treason.
More than 100 prisoners were released from Myingyan Prison on August 1 as part of an amnesty announced by the junta, but most were serving short sentences.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 24,387 people have been arrested over the past two and a half years for opposing the regime, of whom 19, 872 remain in custody.