Burmese Political Prisoners Denied Health Care

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners–Burma (AAPP) issued a press release yesterday calling for the Burmese government to immediately release three political prisoners who have life-threatening medical conditions.

Phyo Wai Aung, 32, who was arrested two years ago, severely tortured, and held in solitary confinement since his arrest, is reportedly dying of liver cancer. AAPP says that prison authorities rejected requests by his family to have him transported to a hospital for proper medical care. Sinphyu Taw Tun is suffering from advanced diabetes and high blood pressure, and is held at a large and over-populated prison that has only one 50-bed hospital. Myra Math, 69, has been diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and stroke. He is being held in Buthidaung prison, in remote Northern Arakan State, where AAPP reports there is no prison doctor.

AAPP has documented 153 deaths of political prisoners caused by delays in medical care, including two within the last six months.

“All of these deaths could have been prevented if there was early intervention from appropriate medical authorities. So-called reforms in Burma have had absolutely no effect on the lives of prisoners. It is a disgrace that lives continue to be lost in such a senseless manner,” said Bo Kyi, Joint-Secretary of AAPP.

Withholding medical care from any prisoners is, at the very least, in violation of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. In these cases, according to international guidelines for the documentation of torture, or the Istanbul Protocol, denial of medical care is torture.

 The Burmese government was highly praised earlier this year for releasing hundreds of political prisoners. However, hundreds more remain behind bars and the barbaric treatment they have received under the old Burmese regimes is continuing under the new government.

PHR supports AAPP’s call to release these three prisoners immediately. Additionally, PHR calls on the government of Burma to release all remaining political prisoners and to change its prison policies so that prisoners in need of medical care receive it without delay.

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