Following the recent release of prisoners, the AAPP says 218 political prisoners remain incarcerated and more than 100 are facing trial, mostly in Arakan and Kachin states.
“Political prisoners are treated especially harshly. It is still common practice, for example, to place them in extreme solitary confinement, remote prisons far from doctors and their loved ones, alongside violent criminal offenders, or in cells traditionally used to house lepers. It is a rite of passage for political prisoners to suffer extreme physical abuse,” Marcia Robiou, AAPP’s Human Rights Advocacy and Research Advisor said in an email.
According to the Home Affairs Ministry’s prison department, there are 45 prisons and 46 labor camps in Burma, which held 50,179 men and 5,407 women in 2012. AAPP questions these figures and says that based on prisoner accounts there are “at least 100,000 prisoners,” while it believes there are 109 labor camps, which are notoriously harsh.
“Monitoring labor camps is also extraordinarily difficult; no independent monitor has ever been allowed in one,” said Robiou. “Being sent to a labor camp is often seen as tantamount to receiving a death sentence. Gaining entry into labor camps should be a matter of priority for the ICRC.