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Junta Coerces Detained Women to Confess to Sexual Relations With Leaders of the Saffron Revolution
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) Broadcast, The Buddhist Channel, October 30, 2007
Yangon, Myanmar -- DVB reported that two of the women detained were put under duress by the Home Affairs Ministry to confess to having improper relationships with the monks who led the Saffron Revolution and the Patta-nikkujanna against the junta. They were promised monetary incentives to become prosecutor witnesses to testify against the monks.
DVB interviewed Ma Ohnmar, a member of the opposition party National League for Democracy, to confirm this information and also about her experience as a detainee; she was arrested on the 25th of September and was only released a few days ago.
DVB: Can you tell us how they first arrested you?
MO: They came to my house at about 2 am on the 25th ofSeptember. An officer from Home Affairs identified himself saying they needed to search my house. They even confiscated the currency notes with General Aung San's photos. They took me at 330 in the morning. After about 4 days in a concentration camp, they transferred me to Insein Jail and I was released on the 25th of October.
DVB: What did they interrogate you about? How did they do it?
MO: They would wake us up in the middle of the night. As I'm a volunteer with the HIV patients, they asked me about the funds, how we use it, if I got any of the money for personal use. They also asked me if I knew any of the 88-Generation student leaders. As I was also involved in the march past Daw Aung San Su Kyi's house on the 22nd of October, they asked me who planned this route, if it was by the NLD leaders. What is interesting is that as the prison got more crowded, we had to share two to a room. Next to my cell were two women who were in the news for admitting having improper relations with monks in the monasteries.
MO: These women were forced to confess to such allegations. One is called Ma Ei. She was in the news for allegedly having sexual relations with U Pyi Kyaw. The other one, Hnin Hnin, from Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery.. she was videotaped making her confession, with one person teaching her what to say to the camera. She is still in prison now. They want to use her as a prosecutor witness.
DVB: So these accusations are actually made up by the authorities?
MO: Yes, it looks like they want to fabricate proof that these monks involved in the revolution are fake monks. Ma Ei was released earlier because she made the confession under duress.
DVB: Did Ma Ei herself tell you that she had no such relationships with the monks? That she was forced to make such confessions?
MO: Yes, she did.
DVB: During interrogations, did they use any torture methods?
MO: They did not physically assault me, but they witheld food and water. I was in ill health, but they denied me any treatment saying there're no medication or doctors to attend to me. Finally, late at night, they gave me some water, but the water was very dirty. There were hair, leaves, and even dead ants in it.
DVB: Did you meet anyone in the concentration camps or prison?
MO: Yes, there're currently 7 women left in prison that I know of. One is Daw Lei Lei from NLD. She's 60 years old, and has very high blood pressure and heart problems. There is also May Mee Oo, who is 4 months pregnant. She has been detained for a month. For the sake of her unborn baby, she is trying to get a nutritious diet, but it is really difficult in prison. It is crucial that these two women are released soon.
DVB: Is there anyone who was released together with you?
MO: Yes, there were 10 of us. One is an old lady, Aunty Daw Khin Pyone Yi. She was from Ngwe Kyar Yan monastery. She was there when the monastery was raided, and the Buddhist flag fell as the pole broke. So she held it up to prevent it from touching the ground. Immediately, she was surrounded by riot police and Swan Arr Shin (pro-junta thugs) who tied her hands behind her back, and beat her up nonstop as they dragged her away. By the time she got to the concentration camp, her blood pressure has shot up and she has lost consciousness. So she was admitted to Rangoon General Hospital and stayed there for 5 days. We saw her back; it was full of criss-crossed black bruises. Her back has not even healed on the day she was released.
MO: Another lady, Ma Hla Hla Nyunt, is actually from USDA. And her husband is from Swan Arr Shin group. This couple was asked by the authorities to get information by mingling with the protesters. They were promised 3000 kyats a day, and the officials also promised to help them clear all their debts. But the woman was mistakenly arrested. Even after the woman informed them that she was from USDA, she was not released. The authorities acted as if they did not send such spies. So she was only finally released together with me after submitting an appeal letter to the authorities.
DVB: In the prison, did you hear anything about the muslims who were detained, and tortured?
MO: Yes, I heard that they were severely tortured just because they are foreigners. They would also swear vulgarities at them. They said these muslims should mind their own business instead of getting involved in the protests. One of the youths was made to kneel down on rocks. After an hour, when he told them he couldn't bear with it any longer, they slapped him til his cheeks were swollen, and they forced him to ride on a motorbike for 2 hours.
DVB: So this youth was released?
MO: Yes, I was in the same bus with him after our release, and he told me about it.
DVB: Who are the people who interrogate you? Prison officials?
MO: No, it is the ones in-charge of the concentration camps. They say they're from SB. Home Affairs.
DVB: Is there something you want to highlight about your experience, after spending a month in concentration camp and in prison?
MO: (To secure my release)I had to sign a letter saying that I understand that I can be subjected to questioning at any time in the future. But what really bothers me is that in that document, there was a statement that said that I understood that I have been released only due to the compassion of the nation (sic). This is something I absolutely cannot accept. If they were so compassionate, why did they detain us in the first place?
DVB: How do you think is the feeling among the women who have been detained, and released together with you?
MO: It varies. Some have been tortured so badly that they're very much frightened now. But others, like the woman from USDA, now see things more in black and white, about how unfair and oppressive the junta is. They (junta) spread rumours that NLD is instigating unrest while they've got their own people on the inside. And when their people are mistakenly arrested, they pretend that these people do not exist. So this lady has finally seen the junta for who they are, and she has promised us never to repeat her actions again.
DVB: What plans do you have for the future?
MO: I will continue being an activist. Our country needs us. Our leaders, the 88-Generation leaders are now all in prison. If we stop now, the people will have no way out. In the concentration camp, they questioned us about our plans, and I told them that I would continue.