Buthidaung: The situation political prisoners are in at the Buthidaung prison, 80 miles north of Arakan's state capital Sittwe, has been worsening by the day given the oppression by the prison authorities, said monk U Thumana who was recently released from the prison as part of the amnesty.
"Many political prisoners have not been allowed visitors from outside and have not even been allowed to talk to other prisoners inside the prison. Many political prisoners are facing psychological problems," the monk said.
The most severely affected political prisoner at the prison is former student leader Ko Htay Kywe, who is currently serving a sentence of 65 years for campaigning against the Burmese junta.
"He is not allowed contact with his family, other visitors, or other prison inmates. He is staying alone in a cell. Prison authorities have ordered prisoners not to talk to him and they have threatened to punish prisoners severely if any are found talking to him," the monk said.
Buthidaung prison is home to 30 political prisoners, including Ko Htay Kywe, and the majority are Arakanese who were involved in the 2007 Saffron Revolution protests.
"Ko Htay Kywe is the main political prisoner the authorities are targeting in the prison, but other prisoners, such as Ko Min Nay Soe, Ko Myint Myint Maung, and Ni Ni May Myint are also included on the list," U Thumana said.
Many political prisoners from Taungup in southern Arakan are serving prison terms in Buthidaung prison because they were involved in anti-military regime activities.
"Ma Ni Ni May Myint and other political prisoners have been put in small cells separately, and they have no chance to talk to each other or other prisoners," the monk said.
Before the recent amnesty, the prison in-charge, U Tun Swe, summoned all political prisoners to his office and urged them to submit appeal letters to the military government for their release, but all the prisoners refused to sign the letters.
"U Thuriya, who is serving seven and-a-half years in prison, was urged by prison authorities to sign an appeal letter, but he refused and told them he would not give up his activities," the monk said.
U Thuriya, who led the 2007 Saffron Revolution in Sittwe, was arrested in the border town Maungdaw when he was attempting to evade capture after the protests ended.
In Buthidaung prison, the authorities are known to have used prisoners as forced labour, including work for private businesses, but political prisoners have not been forced to work yet in the prison. The political prisoners have not received proper treatment from the authorities and some have been denied medical tests and medical care, the monk added.
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