Jun 9, 2008 (DVB), Inmates of Insein prison have become ill after being given rotten rice to eat by prison authorities, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Rice stores were damaged when Cyclone Nargis hit the prison on 2 May, the AAPP said in a statement.
"The roof of the food warehouse was completely blown away so bags of rice were soaked and destroyed by heavy rain," the statement said.
"The rice bags became moldy, foul and inedible so [the International Committee of the Red Cross] replaced them with new bags of rice as soon as they found out about the situation."
The prison authorities fed the prisoners with the new rice from 19 to 21 May, but then switched to using the damaged rice.
The AAPP said that prisoners had developed various illnesses as a result of eating the rice.
"Prisoners are mainly suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting and dizziness, skin allergies (having bumps on the whole body), swollen stomach and typhoid," the group said.
We have come to know that female prisoners in the women's compound of Insein prison have been suffering even more severely than others," it went on.
"Furthermore, it has been reported that prison authorities haven't provided any adequate medical care for those who suffer."
AAPP secretary Tate Naing said the prisoners' conditions would deteriorate if the authorities did not act quickly.
"The health situation of prisoners will worsen and become critical if they are fed that bad and inedible food any longer," he said.
"Contagious diseases will spread very quickly in a crowded place like prison if authorities do not take appropriate actions promptly.
Tate Naing told DVB that urgent action was needed to address the situation.
"The government should investigate this case as an urgent matter, find out who is really responsible for it, and take immediate action," he said.
"We have also sent a letter to the ICRC informing them about this case. They provided new rice for the prison inmates after the cyclone but it is no longer reaching them, so we pointed out that they need to take action on this."
Reporting by DVB