Pro-democracy newspapers become last lifeline of beleaguered movement

Until the coup, P2 worked as a supervisor for a construction company. When protests erupted in North Yangon’s Okkalapa County, he joined a group that protected protesters from attacks. This is how he ended up in police custody.

Despite their best efforts, the junta’s henchmen failed to break his spirit. The 38-year-old man is currently in a liberated area, where he is undergoing military training to join the armed struggle against the Myanmar dictatorship.

‘Slaughterhouse’

“Ni Maung”, 25, had been participating in protests against the coup since early February. Months later, he was arrested and charged with bringing weapons to Yangon and providing training on how to make explosives.

For 20 days after his arrest, he was detained at the infamous Aung Tha Pyay Interrogation Center in Mayangone Municipality. During this time, he was subjected to various forms of torture, including beatings and electrocutions, he said.

The torture began as soon as he arrived. He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and forced to kneel on the ground as five men beat him so badly it was as if they were butchering an animal, he told Myanmar Now.

“It looked more like a slaughterhouse than an interrogation center,” he said. “They seem to view people as demons who must be exorcised.”

After this ordeal, he was transferred to another interrogation center in Shwepyithar commune where he did not undergo the same treatment. A week later, on June 19, he was sent to Insein Prison after being convicted of incitement under section 505a of the Criminal Code.

It was more like a slaughterhouse than an interrogation center

He remained there until his release under an amnesty on October 18.

Her back, thighs, stomach, and legs all bear the scars of her torture. The worst damage, however, was internal.

“I can’t sit very long now because of the pain in my back and I can’t hear well in one of my ears. I think a few bones may have been crushed as well, ”he said.

“One shot after another”

Saw Han Nway Oo, a 24-year-old trans woman, spent 24 hours in the interrogation center inside Mandalay Palace, a place known to torture civilians, including monks.

“They call it an interrogation, but we weren’t even allowed to speak. It was just a beating while I was handcuffed with my hands behind my back, ”said Saw Han Nway Oo, who was arrested in early September.

“They had a bunch of wires taped together in their hands. Most of the time, they kicked my legs. They took turns beating me. They also twisted the tips of my nails with pliers, ”she added.

After this ordeal, she was sent to Mandalay No.2 Police Station, where she was tortured for two more days by the same soldiers she encountered at the Mandalay Palace Interrogation Center.

They had a bunch of wires taped together in their hands. Most of the time, they kicked my legs. They took turns beating me

“They followed me to the police station and cut my skin with knives, twice on the back of my neck and twice on my stomach. They also cut my knee. The wounds weren’t very deep, but deep enough to cut my veins. It was really painful, ”she said.

Two weeks later, she was sent to Obo Prison in Mandalay, where she remained for a month before being released. She is now in a safe place.

Beat the son to torture the father

When the junta couldn’t find a 50-year-old ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) member they were looking for in Meiktila, they instead arrested their son, a sophomore engineering student.

Hoping to secure his son’s release, the NLD party member surrendered. “I had to follow him because he’s my son. But when I arrived, I learned that he had already been tortured, ”he said.

They also beat him with his hands tied behind his back. They did it in the room next to mine so I could hear it

Instead of releasing the young man, the regime continued to torture him in order to increase his father’s suffering.

“They stabbed him in the forehead with scissors. They made him put three fingers on a step and crushed them with the butt of a rifle, then rolled bamboo over them, ”said the father.

“They also beat him with his hands tied behind his back. They did it in the room next to mine so I could hear it, ”he added.

The two men were tortured inside an interrogation center run by Unit 420 of the 99 Light Infantry Division, based in Meiktila. The son was later released, but was subsequently charged with incitement and sentenced to three years in prison at the end of June.

Another member of Meiktila’s NLD was also tortured. For six hours, he was interrogated at the town’s No. 1 police station.

“They took turns beating me. I think I have been beaten over 300 times. They used a thread about as thick as a finger. They asked me if I was a leader of the protest. I said that I had participated in protests, but not as a leader, but they still beat me, ”he said.

“Four of them kicked me five or six at the same time while I was on my knees with my hands cuffed behind my back,” he added.

He was also charged with incitement under section 505a of the Criminal Code and sentenced to three years in prison in May. All three were released along with around 1,000 other detainees as part of the October amnesty.

The junta under pressure

The October amnesty was intended to ease pressure on the regime as its leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, risked being kicked out of an ASEAN leadership summit later in the month.

However, this decision did not have the desired effect and the junta has since resumed its relentless assault on its opponents. Of the nearly 11,300 people arrested since the coup, thousands remain behind bars.

As if to cement its reputation for cruelty, the regime arrested again many of those he released, in what the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP), an advocacy group for political prisoners in Myanmar, called “a form of physical and mental torture, not only for political detainees, but also for their families ”.

Prisoners continue to die in regime custody. People like Hlaing victory, a 40-year-old teacher who participated in the Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Movement, are regularly tortured to death by their interrogators. According to the AAPP, hundreds of people have encountered this ending since the coup.

According to Aung Myo Min, a longtime activist who now serves in the shadow government of national unity as minister of human rights, many torture survivors are permanently traumatized by their experience, leading some to fall for themselves. commit suicide.

“Torture has many consequences. Survivors need not only medical help but also psychological support in order to fully recover from the trauma, ”said the Minister.