Investigations conducted by the news agency Associated Press (AP) found that Myanmar’s military had used torture systematically against those detained across the country since taking power from an elected government last February.
AP spoke to 28 people who had been imprisoned and released in recent months. The news agency also examined photographs, sketches, letters and testimonies of three army defectors to obtain a comprehensive picture of Myanmar’s highly secretive military detention system which is estimated to have imprisoned more than 9,000 people.
Those detained include hundreds of people who protested in Yangon on March 3 against the military’s takeover of power.
The military managed to disperse the protest, but then chased the demonstrators and detained about 400 people. The detainees were loaded into trucks, and some of them were taken to an interrogation site in Yangon.
Journalist Nathan Maung described his experience at the Yangon interrogation center as being in hell. He said he was beaten repeatedly. “It was very painful,” he said.
In addition to investigating the testimonies of a number of former detainees, AP identified dozens of interrogation centers used by the military in Myanmar, in addition to prisons and police detention centers.
Matthew Smith, CEO of Fortify Rights, a human rights NGO, said detainee torture was widespread in Myanmar.
Meanwhile the public halls — and even the royal palace — have been turned into interrogation centers, according to AP, most of the torture took place inside the Mount Rung military compound in Hakha used by the 266th Light Infantry Battalion.
Torture is not new in Myanmar, and such tactics have been used for decades, said Manny Maung, Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Some pictures and photos obtained AP of the prisoners evaluated by Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist with the organization Doctors for Human Rights (Physicians for Human Rights). [ab/uh]