Deadly Requests
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Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Deadly Requests

By Moe Aye APRIL, 1998 - VOLUME 6 NO.2


You don’t have the right to complain about anyone but yourself. If you do, you could spark a political movement in prison.” This is the warning jail authorities in Burma give all political prisoners. Prison medical officers also follow the stern warnings of jail authorities. Nor could we request a doctor o­n someone else’s behalf. I will give you some examples of the dangers of trying to help political prisoners in need of medical attention.

In April 1991, Maung Noe (a famous young artist) suffered so badly from amoebic dysentery that he could not walk or speak. Eventually the medical warder Khin Maung Nwe sent him to the prison hospital. Some other prisoners requested Khin Maung Nwe’s help getting some medicine for Maung Noe. Although he had helped us o­nce in the past, this time Khin Maung Nwe did not dare accept our request. He said that there were many medics in the prison hospital and if they found out where the medicine came from, he would surely get in trouble. Moreover, jail authorities would regard it as a political action for not minding our own business and helping other prisoners. Two days later, Maung Noe returned to jail without feeling better. He was the first Insein Prison political prisoner to experience the prison hospital. After hearing his words, nobody wanted to go there.

At the end of 1991, U Kin Sein (People’s Progressive Party Secretary for Prome township) also suffered from amoebic dysentery. When he was sent to prison, U Kin Sein was strong and healthy except for his poor eyesight. Before he was arrested, an eye specialist told him to change his eyeglasses prescription. But he missed the chance to do it because of being arrested by Military Intelligence Service (MIS) in January 1991. He always complained that Dr. Soe Kyi never properly checked his eyes, to which the doctor said, “You should appeal to MIS. As you know I am not an eye specialist and I have no permission to help you.”

On May 30, he was sentenced to eight years imprisonment by a military tribunal. He also mentioned his eye situation in court. The military tribunal refused his request for new eyeglasses and said that it wasn’t their business. Since then, he continued to complain to Dr. Soe Kyi and Dr. Aung Than Myint. Gradually, his eyesight deteriorated. At the same time he suffered from dysentery. We tried our best to cure his sufferings by smuggling in some medicine. But finally, he was sent to the prison hospital. All political prisoners warned him to avoid injections with unclean needles, urging him to make sure the doctor used a new needle under his eyes. o­ne week later he was sent back. He complained that as soon as he reached the prison hospital gate, some criminals searched his body and possessions. They confiscated all the medicine in his bag and ordered him to carry the rest of his possessions himself.

Then they sent him to O.P.T. (Out Patient Treatment) where he was checked by a criminal who administered some injections. Suffering badly, he couldn’t speak, let alone request decent, hygienic medical care. Since the criminals gave the prisoners their daily injections, he was discharged from the prison hospital without ever seeing a doctor. He requested to us all not to send him there if he suffered from some disease again. He continued, “I would rather die in my cell than in the prison hospital.”

We decided that we had to risk our own safety for U Kin Sein. First, Phone Myint Htun, ( ABFSU, Lower) arranged and paid for o­ne warder to smuggle in some stronger spectacles with lenses fitted especially for U Kin Sein. o­ne week later, jail authorities noticed U Kin Sein with his new eyeglasses and interrogated him about how he got them. He answered that his son brought them during a prison visitation. Capt. Thar Oo, the chief warden of Insein Prison, said, “It is a violation of the jail manual rules.” Then he ordered some wardens to confiscate the glasses.

After that, U Kin Sein became badly depressed. At the same time he suffered from jaundice and dysentery again. His eyes could barely see. At that time, there were many Thai prisoners who suffered from malaria, jaundice and HIV, so he feared the infection of different mosquito-borne diseases. During the chief warden’s round checks, U Kin Sein complained that he wanted to have suitable eyeglasses and a small mosquito net. Dr. Soe Kyi replied that “This is not a luxury hotel or an eye specialist clinic.” At last, U Kin Sein could not sit in jail position during the jail authorities’ round checks. o­n o­ne Wednesday Capt. Thar Oo saw U Kin Sein sleeping o­n his old mat. He shouted, “Why don’t you sit in jail position?” Another inmate, Min Wai (Democratic Patriot Army) answered, “He cannot sit or say anything because of his bad sufferings.” Capt. Thar Oo said, “If he can't sit, he should be sent to the jail hospital, if he dares.

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