New Report Documents Widespread Torture in Burma’s Prisons

A new report interviewing former prisoners in Burma documents for the first time the extent of torture in Burma’s prisons.

The 124-page report titled, “The Darkness We See: Torture in Burma’s Interrogation Centers and Prisons,” was released today by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) (AAPPB), based in Mae Sot, Thailand, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). The AAPPB interviewed 35 former political prisoners in the document, who reported physical, psychological, and sexual abuse used by the junta’s jailer.

"This report is the first to show the shocking full scale of torture in Burma's interrogation centers and prisons,” Ko Tate, Secretary of the AAPPB said in a statement. “It should eliminate any doubt as to the severity of human rights violations against those suspected of political dissent in Burma."

More specifically, the interviewees described how they suffered electrocution to all parts of the body, severe beatings and burning with cigarettes and lighters. The report indicated that the beatings are often so severe that prisoners die as a result.

In addition, the former prisoners informed AAPPB that ropes and shackles were used on the neck and ankles and kept on prisoners in the same position for up to several months.

CSW reported that many of the political prisoners were arrested simply for expressing their opposition to the ruling military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). Among the current political prisoners in Burma is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi – a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The report is also significant because for the first time, politicians ultimately responsible for torture in Burma were highlighted – the Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Foreign Affairs – who serve on a three-person committee responsible for managing the detention of prisoners charged under the junta’s State Protection Act, which provides the “legal” basis for the incarceration of prisoners.

“The widespread practice of severe torture on political prisoners by the Burmese military regime is yet another reason for prompt and effective action by the U.N. Security Council,” said CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas in a statement released by the group. “CSW welcomes the publication of this report and calls on the international community to do much more to help the people of Burma who have suffered for so long under this horrifically repressive regime.”

CSW is a human rights organization which specializes in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty.