Political prisoners ‘given amphetamine’

Political prisoners in Burma are being given amphetamine during interrogation in an effort to extract more information, according to a Thailand-based campaigning group.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAPP) had received several complaints of prisoners being drugged by military intelligence in interrogation centres in Rangoon.

Aung Khaing Min from AAPP said that it was likely they were given the stimulant mixed in with their food to avoid detection, but had complained later to visiting family members that believed they had been drugged.

“They [prisoners] are being given it during interrogation to disorientate them so that intelligence can get more details,” Aung Khaing Min said.

The group’s head, Tate Naing, told DVB that if the accusations turned out to be true, Burmese intelligence would be guilty of “committing a serious crime…and they can get serious punishments if they continue to do this”.

The government’s Prison Administration Department was unavailable for comment.

One of those believed to have been given amphetamine is Sithu Zeya, the DVB reporter recently sentenced to eight years in prison after being caught photographing the aftermath of the Rangoon bombings in April last year.

According to AAPP, there are currently 2,189 political prisoners in jails across the country, down from 2203 in December last year after 16 were released.

“We have a plan to bring the matter of human rights violations in Burma to international rights groups, including the United Nations,” said Tate Naing. “If the situation gets seriously bad, then there must be an investigation in any way possible.”

The UN has been under pressure to launch a probe into whether war crimes and crimes against humanity are occurring in Burma, particular in the ethnic border regions which have hosted decades-long conflicts.

But the issue of Burma’s political prisoners languishing in jails and labour camps across the country has become a focus for rights campaigners, particularly prior to November last year when opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was still under house arrest.

Torture is common among political prisoners, many of whom spend periods in solitary confinement or are sent to remote jails where access for visiting family members is difficult.

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