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ASAHI: Political Prisoners in Burma


Asahi Evening News: December 27, 1995.
The Associted Press

BANGKOK-- Brutal treatment of political prisoners at the Insein jail in
Rangoon, Burma, has recently been stepped up because of letters smuggled
out to a United Nations human right investigator, a dissident group in
Bangkok said Tuesday.

"Water and food supplies have been denied during the interogation peroid
since mid November," said a statement from the All Burma Students'
Democratic Front.
Burmese authorities are  seeking to discover how letters from prisoners at
Insein, describing conditions there, reached Yozo Yokota, a U.N. human
rights investigator who visited Burma in October.

Yokota was allowed into Insein jail, but not permitted to meet with
political prisoners held there.  He issued a report that was sharply
critical of human right conditions in Burma.

The students' group said that prisoners are being forced to sleep on
concrete floors and some are confined to "military dog cells," a form of
solitary confinement.

The group cited sources in Rangoon as the basis for its allegations.
The Burmese government rarely comments on such allegations, or else it
denies them. Attempts to reach a spokesman at the Burmese Embassy in
Bangkok on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The United Nations and nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch Asia have condemned the treatment of
political prisoners in Burma and conditions at Insein jail.

The International Committee for the Red Cross withdrew its mission from
Burma earlier this year because it said the military government refused it
access to political prisoners being kept at Insein.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the leaders of the nation's democracy movement, has said
securing the release of all political prisoners is her top priority.
Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, was freed from six years of
house arrest in July. Her two closest advisors, Tin Oo and Kyi Maung, were
released from Insein in March.
Several of her followers have recently been arrested.

Although the Burmese government has released more than 2,000 political
prisoners during the last few years, both Human Rights Watch Asia and
Amnesty International say at least a thousand more remained jailed in
deplorable conditions.