Re-allowance of prison visits: The killing of innocent civilians with no one being held accountable

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – October 24
MoeMaKa, October 25, 2023

Re-allowance of prison visits: The killing of innocent civilians with no one being held accountable

Except for those sentenced to death and those sentenced to life imprisonment, the Military Council has allowed prisoners to meet with family on prison visits once a month since October 23. It is also stated in the news that to prove to be a family member, it will be necessary to submit a household registration paper, an ID card, a testimonial letter of residence from a ward elder, and evidence of having been vaccinated against COVID-19. It can be seen that the military council has purposely included these criteria to make the role of the ward/village administration important. In the past, prison inmates were allowed to visit prison twice a month, but now the limit has been reduced to only once a month. This restriction means that if one wants to visit more than once, he may have to bribe the prison staff.

Before the news that they allowed for prison visits, there was initially news of a reduction in the amount of food that could be sent to the prison. Subsequently, a news report about allowing prison visits came out.

It is not known whether or not the permission to visit the prison is related to the change of the home affairs minister, but it is possible that the military council allowed the visit to the prison to show that the situation has returned to normal. On the other hand, at a time when most of the political prisoners in prisons are being killed more than ever before, there may be an intention of not wanting outsiders to know the conditions inside the prisons. Banning the prison visit has the advantage for the military council that the conditions inside the prison do not quickly leak out to the outside. On the other hand, there may be situations where prison staff take bribes to give information or render the prisoners able to make calls from inside with mobile phones that have been paid for with a large sum of money. By allowing the prison visit, it may become a situation where outsiders can quickly find out about the loss of life, health problems without having access to the necessary medical treatment, and cases that are happening inside the prison.

Another piece of news in today’s news articles is that two women riding a motorcycle were reportedly killed by the soldiers of the military council at the entrance of Tigyaing when they opened fire for not stopping the motorcycle. According to news reports, both 2 women, a 20-year-old woman of grocery shop owner and a shop assistant, were shot dead for not stopping the motorcycle when the military council asked them to stop.

It is believed that the military council troops think that they have the right to shoot motorcycle riders if they do not stop when they order them to stop. Such incidents have been happening frequently in various parts of Myanmar since the military coup. A female grocery store owner was hit by a bullet in the neck and lost her life, and the shop assistant died while being taken to the hospital due to multiple bullet hits, according to the news. It can be concluded that both of these 2 people lost their lives due to multiple shots to the head and upper part of the body, and it is killing them rather than stopping them for a security check. It is now in a situation where no security forces have been prosecuted for the illegal shootings and killings.

It is clear from these circumstances that the military council is not ruling the country by law but by arms. In suppressing armed resistance attacks, there has been no accountability for any wrongful shootings or killings. During interrogations, not only those who are political opponents and are participating in armed resistance attacks but also civilians who are not involved in politics at all, are tortured and killed. Such losses of life have reached thousands, not hundreds. But none of the members of the military council have been prosecuted for these crimes. Human rights violations and war crimes are being committed as everyday events, and in the two and a half years since the military coup, the number of civilian casualties has increased from hundreds to thousands.