Human Lives Human Rights: People who resisted the 2021 military coup, routinely subjected to torture and other cruel or degrading treatment by the authorities in Myanmar’s prisons and interrogation centers.
It has been more than a year and a half since the power grab shattered the country’s halting transition to civilian rule.
According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), since the 1 February 2021 coup, Myanmar’s military has arrested more than 14,500 people and killed more than 2,000.
From showing up without an arrest warrant and forcing confessions through torture or other ill-treatment, to enforceable disappearances, reprisals against relatives, and holding detainees incommunicado from family and legal counsel, military authorities flout the law at every stage of the arrest and detention process.
This was horrifically demonstrated in the unlawful execution of four men in July, including a prominent pro-democracy activist and former lawmaker, following their death sentences by a military court.
The executions were the first to be carried out in more than 30 years. More than 70 people remain on death row in Myanmar while 41 have been sentenced to death in absentia, according to AAPP.
Myanmar has stooped to unimaginable new lows in its vile and brutal treatment of detainees as part of an overall strategy intended to break their spirits and compel people to give up any resistance to the 2021 military coup.
Rights groups demand, as a matter of urgency, Myanmar’s military must free thousands of people languishing in detention simply for exercising their rights, and let them return to their families.
The United Nations Security Council must increase the pressure on the Myanmar military with a referral to the International Criminal Court, a global arms embargo and targeted sanctions.
Researches reveals how prison officials kicked and slapped detainees, and also beat them with rifle butts, electrical wires and branches of a palm tree.
Detainees allege they were psychologically tortured with death and rape threats to force confessions or extract information about anti-coup activities. One person was presented with a parcel delivery that contained a fake bomb.
Other detainees had visible injuries on their bodies, including blood, broken limbs, and swollen faces.
One woman heard security forces plunging the head of another detainee in a bucket of water and using a taser on the person several times during interrogation.
A student activist told Amnesty International that he saw police bang his friend’s head against the wall. Police also used a taser on his genitals and threatened to blow them up with a grenade.
Interrogators also committed sexual and gender-based crimes.
Saw Han Nway Oo is a transwoman who was arrested and detained in September 2021 by the military on suspicion of having attended self-defence training. She was taken to the Mandalay Palace interrogation centre, which has become notorious for reports of torture.
Over three days, she was interrogated at the palace centre and at a police station. She said the interrogators scratched her knees with sharp objects and sprayed methylated spirit over the bleeding wounds. She was not given food or water for three days.
“During the interrogation, whenever I used feminine pronouns for myself, they said you are gay, so you must like this and exposed their male genitals in front of me.”
They also looked at messages with her doctor and asked if she had had a sex-change operation. They then took off her clothes, looked at her naked body and mocked her.
Other LGBTI people also experienced thorough body checks of their private body parts to ‘‘ensure whether they are males or females,” according to one detainee.
Humiliating and invasive body searches may constitute torture or other ill-treatment, particularly for transgender detainees.
Arrests are typically conducted during the night. During these night raids, soldiers and police break down doors, beat residents, ransack houses, confiscate electronics such as phones and laptops, and occasionally take valuable items such as jewellery.
Detainees also found dead insects and worms in their food.
Though the experience of detention has exacted a profound psychological toll on those who have survived it, many activists are determined to keep resisting.