Prison chief ‘died during interrogation’ in Myanmar's Bago region

By RFA Burmese

Myanmar’s junta has arrested the head of Daik-U Central Prison in Bago region, along with seven of his staff, for allegedly helping inmates contact People’s Defense Forces, sources close to the prison told RFA Tuesday.

Some of the sources said the warden died during interrogation but RFA was unable to confirm this.

The sources – who declined to be named for fear of reprisal – said the warden, Lt. Myo Htike, was arrested at the end of June for helping prisoners communicate with outsiders. He is being interrogated at the prison, along with the other arrested staff which include his deputy Yan Naing Tun, one of the sources said.

“Lieutenant Myo Htike is good-natured and is also willing to help, so he helps political prisoners with some issues,” he said.

“Other workers were arrested for not knowing what the lieutenant was doing,” said the source, adding that it's not yet known when the eight will appear in court.

RFA Burmese called Naing Win, the deputy director general of the junta prison department, regarding the arrests but he did not answer the phone.

On June 27, guards took 37 political prisoners out of the prison, saying they were being transferred elsewhere. Relatives and friends said seven of the prisoners were killed.

And in May, guards beat three Daik-U Central Prison inmates to death during the violent interrogation of 24 prisoners, accused of communicating with members of the Bago People’s Defense force, sources close to the prison told RFA at the time.

They said the injured, some in a critical condition, were put in a dark room with no food for four days.

Since May several more political prisoners at Thayarwady Prison in Bago region and Myingyan Prison in Mandalay region were also beaten to death during interrogation, while others have been critically injured according to family members and sources close to the prison, who all requested anonymity to protect prisoners and their relatives.

There was speculation that the interrogations took place in retaliation for a prison break at Taungoo Prison in Bago region on May 18. Inmates grabbed guns from prison guards and nine managed to escape into the jungle where they were met by members of a local People’s Defense Force.

One of the escaped prisoners later told RFA they were originally trying to free Win Myint, the deposed president who is being held at Taungoo.

Almost 24,000 people have been arrested by the junta since the February 2021 military coup, with over 19,000 still in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.