The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners – Burma (AAPPB) has called on the Burmese government to allow torture victim La Htaw Brang Shawng immediate access to medical care, in line with international standards for detainees.
|Joint-Secretary of the AAPP Bo Kyi Photo: Burma Voices|
Military Affairs Security (MAS) forces have a long history of torturing detainees with impunity, a practice that continues as shown by the La Htaw Brang Shawng, the AAPP said.
In June, 25-year-old La Htaw Brang Shawng was arrested by police in Myitkyina Township, Kachin State, on false allegations of involvement in a bomb plot, said the Mae Sot-based nongovernment organization.
He was handed over to MAS authorities and held in Myitkyina Prison where he was tortured over a three-day period, said the AAPP. He is accused under Section 3 of the Explosive Substance Act and Article 17/1 of Unlawful Associations Act. His next court hearing was scheduled for Monday.
According to his lawyer, Mar Khar, MAS officers handcuffed and tied him up with ropes. La Htaw Brang Shawng was then tortured in an effort to extract a forced confession: his cheeks were burned with hot knives, his thighs were heavily punctured with knives, and the skin on his calves shows evidence of extensive peeling, the AAPP said.
The case of La Htaw Brang Shawng is not unique and shows that torture is still a government policy, said Bo Kyi, AAPP joint-secretary.
“If [President] Thein Sein really wants Burma to reform, he needs to enact a zero tolerance policy for torture,” he said. “Those responsible for inflicting violence against innocent detainees need to be brought to justice.”
The AAPP said his wife is worried about La Htaw Brang Shawng’s abnormal behavior. During the court hearing, he was laughing by himself, she said.
The judge, Myint Htoo, denied requests made by the defense lawyer to allow appropriate medical treatment for La Htaw Brang Shawng, but the judge reportedly allowed the attorney to introduce a list of injuries he said were inflicted by the military interrogators.
“It is unconscionable that one of the nation’s courts is prohibiting a defendant from seeking medical relief from serious allegations of ill treatment and torture. Denying urgent health care is like torturing a person again,” said Bo Kyi.
Torture is a chronic problem in Burma, he said.
“Torture is not a thing of the past. The international community needs to wake up to the fact that Burma continues to violate basic principles of humanity. Talking about reform while security forces continue to torture is no improvement,” said Bo Kyi.
Burma has not signed the Convention Against Torture (CAT) or the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
“It is absurd to speak of progress in Burma when torture is rampant and the victims are refused basic medical care,” Bo Kyi said. “When will the government wake up and act to end torture and all human rights abuses?”
In addition, AAPP called on for an independent and impartial investigation into allegations of torture in Burma. Without dismantling the culture of impunity, there is little hope of ending torture in Burma, it said.