'They Told Me Not to Come Any More'

The wife of a jailed activist in Burma talks about her husband's mistreatment at the hands of his captors.
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Security officials watch as people gather to celebrate a festival in Rangoon, April 13, 2008.
Security officials watch as people gather to celebrate a festival in Rangoon, April 13, 2008.

Aye Aye Maw is the wife of Aung Kyaw Oo, a political activist arrested on Aug. 23 for his participation in a Rangoon demonstration over high fuel prices. After receiving a sentence of 13-1/2 years in jail, Aung Kyaw Oo was moved to the remote Pegu prison on Nov. 24. A mother of two children, aged three and seven years old, Aye Aye Maw spoke of her husband’s condition during her visit with him in prison:

"I visited Ko Aung Kyaw Oo on Dec. 13. I also visited him on Dec. 3, but I was not allowed to see him then. [The prison officials] said that if I had a parcel to give to him, to leave it with them. They told me to come back on Dec. 13. When I arrived on Dec. 13, I got there just after noon. They said it was lunchtime and that I would only be able to see him at 2 p.m. I sat and waited."

"There were two [guards] at his side, two behind him, and two on either side of us. Altogether, there were six of them surrounding us. When I asked my husband how he was feeling, he replied that he was not well, that he was having difficulty breathing, and that his ribs were aching. I asked him why the doctor did not come to see him. He said there wasn’t any doctor there. He said that they called a doctor only if several people needed one."

"I told him that I had come to visit him on Dec. 3, but was not allowed to see him. He said ‘Of course they would not let you see me, because when I was moved to this prison on Nov. 24, the head of the prison, the superintendent, and five other prison staff—a total of seven people—ganged up on me and beat me so hard that my face was black and blue all over. They would not allow you to see me because of the injuries to my ribs from their kicking and beating me.'"

"He said [he was beaten] because he did not sit the way he was supposed to be sitting when he first arrived. What he did was apparently not in accordance with the regulations of the prison, so they all beat him. They also threw away what few possessions he had. When he told them that they would have to compensate him if his possessions were destroyed, they said he was being insolent and all seven of them began to beat him."

'No need to visit him'

"He did not have black eyes or shadows under his eyes. But, because of the kicking, Ko Aung Kyaw Oo said his ribs were aching and that he could not breathe properly. His health condition is quite bad. When he was speaking, he could not do so properly or in an audible manner. This was because of the extent of the beating. While my husband was telling me all of this, he asked me to write it all down in case I might forget what he was telling me."

"One of the staff at our side went to the warden in charge and reported that Ko Aung Kyaw Oo was telling his wife about the beatings. At that point, the warden in charge ordered his men to take Ko Aung Kyaw Oo away immediately. He was dragged away by three or four prison staff. I think they took him away to beat him up and torture him again."

"After they dragged Ko Aung Kyaw Oo away, the warden in charge called out to me, saying ‘Hey, you woman, come here.’ They put me in a room and asked me to sit in a chair. He told me that the reason my husband was in this prison was because he did not obey prison regulations. It was because he did not sit the way he was supposed to, and therefore, he was punished for it."

"Then he grabbed my purse and took the notes I had written when Ko Aung Kyaw Oo was telling me about his treatment in the prison. He also took my personal diary and threatened to sue me and put me in prison. [Prison officials] also asked me to sign several papers when I first arrived to visit my husband and when I asked what papers I was signing they said it had to do with a wife visiting a prisoner and nothing else."

"[Now] they have denied me permission to visit my husband. They said that there was no need for me to visit him. They told me, in a rude manner, not to come anymore."

"My husband’s health is not good. He has been tortured and mistreated. The injuries he sustained from torture and beatings have not healed and I am concerned about his health. During my visit he was dragged away before the time was up for the family visit, so I will take action in accordance with the law. I cannot accept what is being done to my husband without any justice."

Reported by May Pyone Aung for RFA’s Burmese service. Burmese service director: Nancy Shwe. Produced and edited for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes.





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