Monday, May 11, 2009

Political Prisoners Suffering Ill Health: AAPP

The Irrawaddy News

Many Burmese political prisoners who were recently sentenced to long terms of imprisonment in remote prisons around the country are suffering from physical and mental health problems, according to Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP).

According to a report issued by the AAPP on Monday titled “Burma’s Prisons and Labour Camps: Silent Killing Fields,” at least 127 political prisoners are in poor health and 19 of them require urgent medical attention, including Aung San Suu Kyi, comedian Zarganar, female labor activist Su Su Nway and 88 Generation Students group leader Min Ko Naing.

The report blamed the military government for its “cruel and inhumane practices,” which include the use of systematic torture and the denial of healthcare to political prisoners, most of whom are pro-democracy activists.

“Not only are there more political prisoners than ever before, they are facing harsher sentences,” said Bo Kyi, the joint-secretary of the AAPP. “Leading activists have been transferred to the most remote prisons, where there are no prison doctors, and they are more likely to contract diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.”

The report said that more than 350 activists have been sentenced since October last year, and the majority of them have been transferred to remote jails away from their families. The prison transfers make it difficult for family members to visit and provide essential medicine.

“Many political prisoners have already died in prison,” said Bo Kyi. “This has to stop. The regime must end its cruel and inhumane practices, and release all political prisoners.”

Since November 2008, at least 228 political prisoners have been transferred to remote prisons far from their families. The long-term consequences for the health of political prisoners who have been transferred will be very serious, said the report.

There are 44 prisons in Burma and at least 50 labor camps. Some of them do not have a prison hospital and at least 12 of the prisons do not even have a prison doctor.

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