Conflicts & War

Myanmar junta tortured detainees to death: HRW

Bangkok, Sep 13 (EFE).- At least six activists detained in Myanmar since the military coup in February last year have been tortured to death, a new report by nonprofit Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

“The six deaths Human Rights Watch documented are just the tip of the iceberg of suffering and torture of those detained by Myanmar’s military and police,” Myanmar researcher at HRW, Manny Maung, said in the report.

“Given the junta’s cruelty in all aspects of its rule, there’s little surprise that no evident action has been taken to investigate deaths in custody and bring those responsible to justice,” Maung added.

The report details the deaths of six of the 690 people who have died since the Feb. 1, 2021 coup at the hands of the security forces after their arrest.

Of these, at least 73 died in police stations, military interrogation centers and prisons, according to data from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) nonprofit.

The military junta only acknowledges a few deaths in custody and attributes them to heart failure or other illnesses, but HRW said that “many died from torture or other mistreatment, including poor detention conditions and a lack of access to adequate medical care.”

The organization had access to the testimonies of relatives and photographs that, according to their medical experts, show “so many signs of abuse and torture that it is hard to pinpoint exactly what killed these individuals.”

Four of the families interviewed by HRW said that they felt pressured by the authorities to cremate the bodies immediately, presumably to hide evidence of wrongdoing, while the other two families buried the bodies as quickly as possible for fear that they would be confiscated.

One of the victims was Zaw Myat Lynn, a former member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who ran a vocational school in Yangon, the country’s most populous city.

On Mar. 9, police and military officers arrived at the school, where he and his family lived along with the students, to arrest him, allegedly for pro-democracy posts on social media.

Although he tried to escape, Zaw Myat Lynn, 46, was surrounded by police and soldiers, who took him away in a military vehicle.

The next day, the authorities asked the family to come and identify the body.

Officials told Zaw Myat Lynn’s family that he had died of heart failure although they did not provide them with any medical certificate or autopsy report.

Photographs examined by HRW experts and The Guardian newspaper indicate that boiling water or a chemical solution was poured into his mouth. His tongue was melted and his teeth were missing, while the rest of his body was wrapped up to hide other injuries.

“The deaths of people in custody are among the hidden atrocities that junta security forces are committing every day,” Maung said.

The military coup plunged Myanmar into a deep political, economic and military crisis that has led to the death of at least 2,273 people by the security forces, while more than 12,300 are under arrest, according to the AAPP. EFE


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