Police, soldiers injure 17 following Myanmar prison riot

Fighting began when two inmates attempted to escape, locals said.
By RFA Burmese
2024.04.01
Police, soldiers injure 17 following Myanmar prison riot Pyapon Prison in Ayeyarwady region.
Ayeyarwaddy Times

Police and prison guards injured at least 17 inmates in western Myanmar after a prison riot broke out, an advocacy group told Radio Free Asia on Monday.

Fighting between prison staff and inmates, including political prisoners charged with opposing Myanmar’s regime, started on Sunday night in Ayeyarwady division’s Pyapon Prison, one Pyapon city resident said.

"I heard that two inmates tried to break out of the prison that night,” he said, declining to be named for security reasons. “However, they were captured by prison guards. The authorities buried the news." 

According to sources close to Pyapon Prison and Myanmar’s Political Prisoners Network, a dispute between prisoners and prison guards caused the riot, but RFA has not been able to independently verify the claim.

Prison authorities accused the inmates of attacking guards, claiming the guards controlled the situation by bringing in junta-affiliated police and soldiers, according to a statement by the Political Prisoners Network. 

Seventeen inmates are receiving treatment at the prison hospital, along with one guard, said Thaik Tun Oo, a member of the leading committee for the Political Prisoners Network.

"Currently, we know that some political prisoners are among the 17 injured,” he said. “Others are criminal prisoners. I think the number of injured people might be more than 17.”

Authorities locked down Pyapon Prison on Monday following the riots, he added.

RFA contacted Naing Win, deputy director general of the junta’s Prisons Department, and Ayeyarwady’s junta spokesperson Khin Maung Kyi for comment on the riot, but neither picked up the phone.

Junta soldiers and police have increased security in Pyapon town to prevent unrest spreading, locals said.

Prisoners in Ayeyarwady’s capital of Pathein staged a protest in January 2023 after guards tortured an inmate who was caught with a cell phone, and again one week later when the prison planned to execute a teacher sentenced to death. 

In response, guards killed eight people and injured 60 in a shooting meant to quash the riot. 

Following the country’s 2021 coup, over 26,000 political prisoners have been arrested in Myanmar for speaking against the country’s military junta, funding rebel groups and other charges. Over 20,000 are still in prison, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn. 

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