Rare look at Myanmar prison, smuggled drawings

Rare look at Myanmar prison, smuggled drawings

“We are no longer human beings behind bars,” said Nie Ni Htwe, 24. He smuggled the graphics in October when he was released. He was imprisoned for several months for defamation, allegedly wrongly.

Another guest describes the filthy toilets. “And there were flies in the food. Anyone who can’t pay for a place to sleep has to spend the night next to the toilet bucket.”

The prisoner who drew the drawings did so between April and July of last year. He was later released but refused to be interviewed. He told Lahtwi that he also wanted to remain anonymous for fear of arrest again.


The graphics were a birthday present for Htwe. He says the artist asked for permission from the prisoners to film her. Wherever he went, he painted prison scenes. He will feel comfortable in drawing.

One drawing shows about sixty people in the same room, in adjacent rows or against a wall. Htwi says he was in a room with a hundred others. “We slept one finger away from each other.” He saw prison workers beating inmates with sticks.

Earlier, stories of abuses in prison also surfaced. Unidentified prisoners are said to have delivered a handwritten letter to a human rights activist. He is said to have smuggled the letter from prison in February.

According to sources that Reuters cannot confirm, the letter contains several examples of medical negligence. This is how people who are unconscious will not be treated. Also, those who had a stroke and were paralyzed as a result did not receive medical treatment.

No response to the army

Insein Prison, the largest prison in Myanmar, was built in 1871 by the British colonizer. The vast majority of detainees are imprisoned for opposing the military council.

The prison is intended for a maximum of 5,000 inmates. An organization that monitors the conditions of political prisoners in Myanmar reports that more than 10,000 people are now detained. Reuters was unable to verify this either.

The military is in power now in Myanmar, then Democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi He did not respond to repeated requests from Reuters for comment on the drawings. Several aid and human rights organizations, including the Red Cross, told the news agency that they are not allowed into the prison.

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