Myanmar’s military regime has again imposed restrictions on delivery of food and other necessities to political detainees in some jails including Insein Prison in Yangon and Obo Prison in Mandalay, according to family members and volunteers.
The regime often responds to protests staged by political prisoners by banning their access to food and other necessities sent from outside jail.
Volunteers aiding political prisoners say the regime has imposed restrictions since late August at Insein Prison, Obo Prison, Pathein Prison in Ayeyarwady Region, Myingyan Prison in Mandalay Region, Tharyarwaddy Prison in Bago Region, and Dawei and Myeik prisons in Tanintharyi Region.
A volunteer said: “Tharyarwaddy Prison has imposed restrictions on delivery of food and necessities to political prisoners since August.”
Under the new restrictions, political prisoners are permitted to receive just one parcel per fortnight, down from two per week previously. Non-family members are also banned from sending parcels to political prisoners.
Family members also face financial constraints in sending parcels to remote prisons.
A family member of a political detainee held in Tharyarwaddy Prison said: “We are from Yangon, and it costs at least 150,000 kyats [around US$ 40 at the market exchange rate of around 3,800 kyats per dollar] to travel and stay at a guesthouse [in Pyay] to send parcels. This is a problem for us considering the current economic woes.”
The regime has also prohibited deliveries of medicine to political prisoners unless it comes with a doctor’s prescription. And any medicine sent can only be used with the approval of prison medics.
The new restrictions are designed to inflict physical and psychological torment on political prisoners and their families, said former political detainees.
“There are prisoners who survive on food delivered by their families as food provided by the prison is not enough for them,” said U Thaik Tun Oo, a member of the Myanmar Political Prisoners Network. “By restricting delivery of food, the regime wants to cause psychological distress to political prisoners and their family members.”
The new restrictions come amid a spike in reports of torture against political detainees, said former political prisoners.
“The regime is deliberately oppressing political prisoners,” U Thaik Tun Oo said. “I urge international human rights watchdogs, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, to think of ways to prevent this happening in prisons. Issuing statements alone will not lead to compliance by the corrections department.”
The Myanmar Political Prisoners Network recently called on the regime to lift the ban on family visits imposed during the COVID-19 outbreak and allow family members to visit prisoners at least once a month.
As of Sept. 1, the regime had arrested 24,632 people for opposing military rule since the February 2021 coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Of them, 19,846 people remain in detention and 7,254 have been handed prison sentences.
SOURCE – IRRAWADDY