Authorities have been abusing political prisoners after moving them to Mandalay’s Obo Prison from facilities elsewhere in Myanmar, according to sources monitoring prison conditions in the country.
After transferring from Monywa Prison, located 80 miles west of Mandalay, 90 male and 11 female inmates had undergone beatings and torture, according to a public statement issued by the Political Prisoners Network (PPN) of Myanmar on Tuesday.
Prison authorities allegedly kicked inmates in the face while wearing army boots, shocked them with tasers and beat them with batons. At least 50 were left with lasting injuries, according to Thaik Tun Oo, a PPN spokesperson who cited sources inside the prison.
“They were beaten from the moment they arrived at the prison entrance. Some 50 political prisoners had injuries on different parts of their bodies from the beatings,” Thaik Tun Oo said.
Myanmar Now has not yet independently confirmed the extent of the harm suffered by prisoners or whether they received medical treatment for their injuries afterwards.
Obo Prison authorities have been abusing and torturing political prisoners since the 2021 military coup in order to instil fear in them and in the broader public, Thaik Tun Oo said.
“It’s become a norm to beat the prisoners as soon as they arrive at Obo Prison,” he added. “They do it to make people afraid before they’re even incarcerated.”
A man released from Obo Prison in August after serving time for illegal narcotics charges told Myanmar Now and other media outlets in August that the prison authorities were indeed abusing political prisoners in the ways described by PPN’s sources.
In a letter sent to the media outlets, he claimed that political prisoners transferred to Obo Prison from Monywa, Taungoo, and Nyaungshwe Prisons in August had been beaten and then deprived of medical treatment.
He accused several prison personnel by name—including Thein Lwin, the superintendent of Obo Prison, one of his subordinates Sgt. Ba Soe, and several other authorities—saying they had initiated and led the abuses.
According to the same former prisoner, a transferee from Taungoo Prison named Zaw Zaw sustained an injury on his leg that was so severe it required emergency surgery. The prison authorities initially resisted sending him for emergency care, and only agreed when they recognised the personal risk they were running by denying him treatment.
Another former political prisoner released from Obo Prison in 2022 said that it was notorious for the corruption of its staff as well as their mistreatment of inmates.
“Superintendent Thein Lwin is a horrible man,” the former inmate said. “Don’t ask me if he’s corrupt, you only have to look at the massive amount of gold he’s wearing while on duty.”