Weekly Overview: Human Rights Situation in Mon State, Karen State and Tanintharyi Region

January 22, 2024

HURFOM, Third Week of January 2024

Over the last week, the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) received two devastating updates on the ill-treatment of political prisoners who died from preventable causes. Both young men died after failing to receive immediate emergency assistance. HURFOM condemned the response by the junta-backed medical staff who failed to take steps that would have saved the lives of the two victims. According to the rights monitoring group, the Political Prisoners Network – Myanmar (PPNM), seventeen political prisoners died in 2023 because their medical symptoms were ignored and treated too late by junta-staffed personnel.

Thousands of political prisoners remain detained across the country. Innocent people are behind bars for exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms. Every week, HURFOM continues to document dozens of civilians and activists who are detained across Southeastern Burma on baseless charges and accusations without evidence. There is no justice or rule of law in the junta courts, nor accountability from those who villainize those fighting for democracy.

Ko Yar Shin, a 43-year-old political prisoner who was serving a life sentence, had been in poor health since November last year due to internal injuries from being beaten and tortured during interrogation. During this time, he failed to receive adequate medical treatment. His internal injuries did not heal, and he was taken to a hospital outside the prison for emergency treatment on 11 January. However, by then, it was too late, and he died on 12 January. Last year, Ko Yar Shin was sentenced to life imprisonment under Sections 54 and 52(a) of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The second political prisoner recently died due to a lack of proper medical treatment at the Central Prison in Kyaikmayaw Township. The deceased, age 31, Ko Pyae Phyo Aung, was transferred from the prison dormitory to the prison hospital for treatment for a stomach problem at 10:00 PM. As the warden of the prison hospital was resting, the dentist on duty gave him one injection. An hour later, he passed out with pus coming out of his mouth.

After the arrival of the prison hospital director, he was given two life-saving injections and was transported to Mawlamyine Hospital with emergency oxygen. He died at 1:00 a.m. on January 16th. 

Arbitrary arrests are ongoing. According to reports from residents, at least eight people, including a former police officer, have been repeatedly arrested in Thanbyuzayat town in Mon State since January 10. On this day, the regiment forcibly arrested Ko Wa Tok, a former police officer from Aung Mingalar Ward, Thanbyuzayat, at his home. On January 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th, seven residents of Thanbyuzayat town, including six road junctions, were arrested again on allegations that they were involved with the People’s Defence Force (PDFs).

Those who were arrested by the junta were sent to Wea Ka Li for interrogation in Thanbyuzayat Township and have not been contacted until now, according to people close to the family: “They arrested them and threatened not to tell anyone. They covered their heads with a black cloth,” a person close to the family said.

In Thanbyuzayat, the junta troops are continuously firing artillery mortar shells toward the Sa Khan Gyi village. The repeated pursuits and arrests by the regiment and the police are raising concerns among the residents of the town.

Among the arrested residents, more than 20 civilians, including Deputy Chief U Aung Ko Ko of the General Administration Department of Thanbyuzayat Township, were sentenced to life imprisonment under Section 50(j) and 52(a) of the Anti-Terrorism Act. After the case was opened, they were transferred to the Central Prison. Out of those who were arrested, U Mya Than and Ko Min Min, members of the PDFs of Thanbyuzayat Township, were beaten and tortured to death during interrogation. At least 800 people were arrested in Mon State, and most of them have been sentenced to prison terms.


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