War­den sus­pended after prison skir­mish

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - SI THU LWIN sithul­win@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

The war­den of My­ingyan Prison in Man­dalay Re­gion has been sus­pended fol­low­ing a melee that erupted yes­ter­day morn­ing be­tween in­mates and guards.

THE war­den of My­ingyan Prison in Man­dalay Re­gion has been sus­pended fol­low­ing a melee that oc­curred yes­ter­day morn­ing be­tween in­mates and pen­i­ten­tiary guards.

The vi­o­lent clash was sparked when in­mates ob­jected to one of their own be­ing or­dered into soli­tary con­fine­ment fol­low­ing an ar­gu­ment with the head of the cell block.

Ac­cord­ing to U Min Soe Tun, a spokesper­son for the Pris­ons Depart­ment, the ri­ot­ing oc­curred in part due to the weak­ness of lead­ers in the prison’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, hence the de­ci­sion to sus­pend the prison’s war­den.

A new war­den has al­ready been as­signed to the prison and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent is un­der way, he added.

The un­rest be­gan at 7am yes­ter­day morn­ing and con­tin­ued for around three hours.

“By 10am, the sit­u­a­tion was sta­ble. The pris­oner who started the in­ci­dent is be­hind bars for mur­der. He was sent to us after he com­mit­ted an­other mur­der while in­car­cer­ated at Thayawady Prison,” U Min Soe Tun told The Myan­mar Times.

U Tun Kyi, sec­re­tary of the Po­lit­i­cal Pris­oner Af­fairs Com­mit­tee at the As­so­ci­a­tion of For­mer Po­lit­i­cal Pris­on­ers, said the main causes of ri­ot­ing in pris­ons are op­pres­sion, cor­rup­tion, fi­nan­cial dis­putes and hu­man rights abuses.

He called for re­forms to Myan­mar’s prison sys­tem.

“A per­son’s sit­u­a­tion in prison depends on money. If an in­mate can pay money, their sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent. If they can’t, they are pun­ished or treated un­fairly, of­ten in breach of their hu­man rights,” U Tun Kyi said.

“Ri­ots oc­cur be­cause of op­pres­sion by prison of­fi­cers,” he added.

Fur­ther de­scrib­ing the sit­u­a­tion in a typ­i­cal prison, U Tun Kyi said in­mates had to con­trib­ute money to the prison to pay for build­ing re­pairs, the con­struc­tion of of­fices or the pur­chase of a TV for a com­mon area. Those who could not af­ford to con­trib­ute, he said, were forced to stay in cramped and un­com­fort­able cells, with up to 70 in­mates stay­ing in a room de­signed for 50.

“More state funds should be spent on pris­ons in­stead of col­lect­ing money from pris­on­ers. Changes to the food, show­er­ing and cloth­ing of pris­on­ers should be made,” he said. “I know the real cir­cum­stances faced by in­mates as I was de­tained in My­ingyan Prison my­self.”

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