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Report details Myanmar's torture of detainees

Junta accused of flouting the law at every stage of the arrest and detention process
Protesters show the three finger salute and hold photos of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the Myanmar military junta's execution of four prisoners, outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand on July 26

Protesters show the three finger salute and hold photos of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the Myanmar military junta's execution of four prisoners, outside the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand on July 26. (Photo:AFP)

Published: August 02, 2022 08:58 AM GMT

Myanmar’s military junta has inflicted torture and other cruel or degrading treatment on detainees to crush opposition to its rule, according to a new report by a rights organization.

Amnesty International (AI) released a new briefing on Aug 1 which reviewed over 100 news reports and interviewed 15 people, including former detainees, lawyers of prisoners, experts and students.

The briefing — "15 Days Felt Like 15 Years" — documents the horrific experiences of individuals from the moment they are arrested, through their interrogation and imprisonment, and after their release.

The report said military authorities flout the law at every stage of the arrest and detention process from showing up without an arrest warrant and forcing confessions through torture or other ill-treatment, to enforced disappearances, reprisals against relatives, and holding detainees incommunicado from family and legal counsel.

It revealed how prison officials kicked and slapped detainees, and also beat them with rifle butts, electrical cables 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.

“When they [the police] found us sleeping, they beat us. When they caught us sitting, they beat us. They pointed G3 rifles at our foreheads and threatened that they could kill us any time,” one student arrested in the central Magwe region told AI.

"Myanmar has stooped to unimaginable new lows in its vile and brutal treatment of detainees"

Ma Kyu, who was arrested in Kayah state for protesting against the Feb 1, 2021 coup, told Amnesty what a police officer said to her after she was detained: “We can just kill you after the arrest. We do not even need to put you in jail. We can simply shoot you.”

The report said interrogators also committed sexual and gender-based crimes.

“During the interrogation, whenever I used feminine pronouns for myself, they said you are gay, so you must like this and exposed their genitals in front of me,” one transwoman told Amnesty.

She was interrogated at the interrogation center in Mandalay and at a police station for three days where they scratched her knees with sharp objects and sprayed methylated spirit over the bleeding wounds. She was not given food or water for three days.

Amnesty’s report came a week after the military junta executed four political prisoners, including prominent activist Ko Jimmy and former lawmaker Phyo Zeyar Thaw, which sparked strong condemnation across the globe.

“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,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary-general said.

"The junta has ignored repeated calls by regional and international groups to end the violence"

The group called for the UN Security Council to increase the pressure on the Myanmar military with a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC), a global arms embargo and targeted sanctions.

International pressure continues to mount on the military leaders, including coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, to be tried at the ICC or in an Argentine court (under the principle of universal jurisdiction) over rights abuses against Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in the country.

The junta has ignored repeated calls by regional and international groups to end the violence. The reign of terror has targeted ethnic areas with a majority of Christians or Bamar Buddhists.

Nearly 2,200 people have lost their lives in the brutal crackdown by the military and over 14,500 have been detained since the coup in February last year.

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