The Burmese government has been urged to provide adequate medical care to education activists being held in Tharawaddy prison following reports that many of the detainees are suffering from serious health problems.
The All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) on Thursday released a statement detailing the health complications faced by some of the group, arguing that the withholding of medical treatment is a sign that the government is lacking in “dignity”. The protesters are currently on trial in Tharawaddy for their part in a Letpadan sit-in, which was brutally broken up by police on 10 March,
Two activists have recently been removed from detention following dangerous deteriorations in their health: Tin Win, who collapsed in Tharawaddy courthouse on 3 June, has received surgery at Rangoon General Hospital. He reportedly received injuries to his neck and ribs after being beaten by police at Letpadan.
After collapsing on 10 June when he attended a court hearing, fellow activist Khin Hlaing was hospitalised and found to be suffering from a gastrointestinal rupture.
Khin Yu Yu, the mother of ABFSU central committee member Min Thwe Thit, told DVB after visiting the prison on Thursday that although he had suffered some injuries, his complaints pale in comparison to other detainees.
“His little and ring fingers are now crooked from the beating, but other than that he doesn’t have any major health problems. Others in detention including Thaw Zin and Htein Lin Aung have been feeling quite unwell,” said Khin Yu Yu.
“My son said a girl named Khin Mar Nyein, who apparently has neurological problems, has been vomiting for several days,” she said.
Khin Yu Yu also said that several students in Tharawddy prison are still bruised from the beating they received three months ago, and are in need of medical attention.
Khin Moe Moe, a lawyer representing the students on trial, told DVB that around 20 of the activists being held are in poor health.
“I was told that around 20 people in the prison are in poor health, with swelling around the wounds from the beating becoming more and more visible on their bodies. Because the prison doctors would only prescribe painkillers when consulted about these injuries, many detainees are not bothering to speak to them,” said Khin Moe Moe.
The well-known Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPPB) released a statement on 11 June urging the government and international community to ensure medical assistance and adequate living standards were provided to those in detention, detailing the health problems of a number of political prisoners in Burma.
“The health condition of Nay Myo Zin, currently serving a four-year-and-four-month sentence in Insein Prison and awaiting trial under further sections of [the] law, is a serious cause for concern; due to a problem with his spinal cord he is having difficulties walking,” the statement said.
The Yarzar Oo, one of the detained Unity journalists who were imprisoned after being found guilty of “exposing state secrets” following the publication an article alleging the existence of a secret chemical weapons factory in central Burma, is currently serving a seven-year sentence in Pakokku Prison and is suffering from complications relating to Hepatitis B, according to the statement.
There are an estimated 163 political prisoners currently incarcerated in Burma, with 442 activists awaiting trial for political actions, according to the AAPPB.