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Two Amnesty International Urgent Actions on Myanmar

BURMESE MONK NEEDS URGENT MEDICAL CARE

U Gambira, a Buddhist monk imprisoned in Myanmar because of his role in antigovernment protests in 2007, is seriously ill in prison. Amnesty International has recently received information that his injuries resulted from torture he suffered in 2009. He urgently needs to be transferred to a hospital and treated for his injuries.

U Gambira is held in solitary confinement in Kale prison, northern Myanmar. Some former prisoners who were able
to visit him reported that he has difficulty speaking, and that he has scars and marks on his hands, arms and body.
In addition, U Gambira is reported to suffer from very severe headaches several times a week, which cause him to
cry out in pain. When this happens, prison guards administer an injection, which results in U Gambira falling asleep
for about five hours. When he wakes up he is in a daze and finds it very difficult to speak. There is concern that U
Gambira is being injected with drugs rather than being treated for his injuries. He is not thought to have received
any appropriate treatment since he was tortured. The former prisoners asked authorities at Kale prison to send U
Gambira to hospital for treatment. Amnesty International has learned that a former prison official has also written to
the authorities calling for U Gambira to receive medical treatment and expressed his fear that the injections
administered to U Gambira may be harmful.

U Gambira is believed to have been tortured in April 2009, when he was held in Hkamti prison, north of Kale. Reports suggest he was tortured after requesting permission to exercise. Prison guards shackled him and handcuffed him to a chair, stuffed a cloth in his mouth, and placed a black cloth bag over his head. They then beat him on the head with a stick. U Gambira is reported to have been left handcuffed to the chair for extended periods during which time he was spoon-fed by the guards. He was transferred to Kale Prison on 12 May 2009.

Please write immediately in English or your own language:

  • Calling for U Gambira to be admitted to hospital immediately for a full and independent medical examination, and for him to be given all necessary medical treatment;
  • Calling for U Gambira to be released immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience,detained solely as a result of his peaceful activism;
  • Urging the authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the reports that U Gambira was tortured,
    with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice;
  • Note that torture and other forms of ill-treatment are absolutely prohibited under international law.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
U Gambira is serving a 63-year prison sentence for his peaceful activities in the major anti-government protests that began in Myanmar in August 2007. He is a founding member of the All Burma Monks Alliance (ABMA), which was formed in September 2007 and went on to mobilize tens of thousands of monks to join the demonstrations. U Gambira was sentenced in November 2008 after an unfair trial.

U Gambira was sent to Hkamti Prison, Sagaing Division in northern Myanmar on 22 November 2008 and was transferred to Kale Prison, also in Sagaing Division in May 2009. Kale Prison is more than 1000 kilometres from Yangon, his home town. In his Progress Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar in March 2011, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, urged the Myanmar authorities to "halt the practice of transferring prisoners of conscience to remote locations, a practice that reportedly began in late 2008, and appears to be further punishment that deprives prisoners of regular family visits as well as crucial supplemental food and necessary medicine. This practice endangers prisoners of conscience, as they suffer additionally from these even harsher conditions of detention, and creates additional hardship for the families of the prisoners.”

Rule 22 (2) of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners stipulates that: “Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.”

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 12 DECEMBER 2011 TO:

Minister of Home Affairs
Lt Gen Ko Ko
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Nay Pyi Taw
Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 67 412 439
Email: ddg.gad@gad.gov.mm
Salutation: Dear Minister

Chairman,
U Win Mya
Myanmar National Human Rights
Commission
Office No. 10, Nay Pyi Taw
Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 67 412 439
Salutation: Dear Chairman

And copies to:
Warden of Kale Prison
U Go Kyin Paung
Kale Prison
Sagaing Division
Union of Myanmar
Salutation: Dear Warden

PRISONERS IN MYANMAR DENIED DRINKING WATER

Fifteen political prisoners, currently on hunger strike in Insein prison in Myanmar, are reportedly being tortured or otherwise ill-treated. According to sources in Myanmar, they have been denied drinking water, and eight of the prisoners have been held in cells designed to hold dogs.

The 15 political prisoners, all men, started a hunger strike at Insein prison at midday on 26 October. The strike is in
protest that political prisoners in Myanmar are commonly denied the reductions in their sentences which are allowed to criminal convicts. Between 27 October and 2 November it was reported that the hunger strikers were being denied drinking water and no further updates are available at present. Depriving prisoners of drinking water as a punishment for participating in a hunger strike could result in the prison authorities being responsible for the rapid death of the hunger strikers due to dehydration. This would amount to a violation the right to life according to international law, including in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This also violates Rule 21(2) of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which states that
drinking water shall be available to every prisoner whenever they need it.

Eight of the 15 hunger strikers were reportedly moved to dog cells on 29 October. The names of the eight political prisoners sent to dog cells have not yet been confirmed. The dog cells at Insein Prison are about 3m in length, just over 2m wide, but it is possible to stand upright. They are windowless and often have poor ventilation. There is generally no proper sanitation, no bed and no mats on the floor.

By the morning of 1 November it was reported that two of the hunger strikers had been sent to hospital. The names of those hospitalized and details of their medical situation are currently not available. The hunger strikers have also been denied visits from their families and receipt of parcels from relatives, which may include medicine, food or letters.

Please write immediately in English, Burmese or your own language:

  • Requesting the Myanmar authorities to take immediate action to ensure that the hunger strikers are providedwith adequate drinking water and removed from dog cells, and not subjected to further torture or other ill-treatment,
    including subjecting them to mental or physical abuse;
  • Explaining to the authorities that torture and other forms of ill-treatment are absolutely prohibited under
    international law;
  • Urging the authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the reports that eight hunger strikers were
    placed in dog cells and that others were deprived of drinking water; with the results of the investigation made public and those responsible brought to justice.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Five of the 15 political prisoners who are involved in the current hunger strike were also involved in a hunger strike at Insein Prison in May 2011, demanding improvements to the harsh prison conditions. During the May hunger strike seven of the protesters were placed in solitary confinement in dog cells, including three of the political prisoners who are involved in the current hunger strike. The names of those who were also involved in the May hunger strikes are Nyi Nyi Tun, Ko Wunna Htay aka U Vithoddi, Aung Naing, Zin Min Shein, Ko Soe Moe Tun. The three who have again been sent to the dog cells as punishment for their role in the current hunger strike are Nyi Nyi Tun, Ko Wunna Htay aka U Vithoddi and Ko Soe Moe Tun. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar met with Nyi Nyi Tun during a visit to Insein Prison in August 2011.

Many political prisoners in Myanmar have used hunger strikes as a form of protest. Prison authorities have tortured those who protest, or subjected them to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including shackling them, and confining them in dark cells or military dog cells for protracted periods.

Amnesty International has been reporting on the use of dog cells as punishment cells for the last 15 years, as numerous political prisoners have been confined in them for varying periods after breaking sometimes arbitrary prison regulations.

Political prisoners who were placed in dog cells in the past have reported that they were periodically denied food and water and also refused the right to receive visits from relatives. One political prisoner reported that the dog cell he was placed in was covered in white lice and smelled of excrement. Sometimes prisoners were put in dog cells alone, on other occasions up to four prisoners were forced into one space. There are also reports that on some occasions criminal convicts have been placed in dog cells with political prisoners, which could have placed political prisoners at risk of physical abuse. Prisoners were often beaten, sometimes severely, when they were taken to the dog cells and were not provided with any medical treatment for their injuries. Prison authorities appear to apply such punishments against political prisoners regardless of their state of health or age, which leads to health problems and the exacerbation of existing medical conditions.

Names: Nyi Nyi Tun, Thaw Zin aka Ngapain, Kaung Myat Hlaing, Ko Saw Nobel, Than Naing Oo, Ko Wunna Htay aka U Vithoddi, Aung Naing, Nyan Tun Lin aka Yan Naing, Ko Aung, Inter aka Spy, Swam Khant Thwam, Zin Min Shein, Sandimar aka Tun Naung, Aung Moe Zaw and Ko Soe Moe Tun.

Gender: m

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 15 DECEMBER 2011 TO:
Minister of Home Affairs
Lt. Gen. Ko Ko
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10, Nay Pyi Taw
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Fax: +95 67 412 439
Salutation: Dear Minister

Chairman
U Win Mya
Myanmar National Human Rights
Commission
27 Pyay Road
Hline Township, Yangon
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Salutation: Dear Chairman

And copies to:
Deputy Director, Insein Central Prison
U Thet Shay
Insein Central Prison
Middle Ywama Ward
Insein Township, Yangon,
Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Salutation: Dear Deputy Director