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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                          

Union of Myanmar (Burma)

Reports of indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, and other abuses by the military continued, as militant groups engaged in forced disappearances and forced recruitment. Areas in the north remain riddled with land mines planted by both militants and the army. Authorities at times prevented aid groups from reaching populations affected by violence.

Prison conditions are frequently life-threatening

 [Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Burma

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Burma.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Burma

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 6 July 2021]


The law prohibits torture; however, members of security forces reportedly tortured and otherwise abused suspects, prisoners, detainees, and others. Such incidents occurred, for example, in prisons and in Rakhine State. Authorities generally took no action to investigate incidents or punish alleged perpetrators.

Security forces reportedly subjected detainees to harsh interrogation techniques designed to intimidate and disorient, including severe beatings and deprivation of food, water, and sleep.


Bedding was often inadequate and sometimes consisted of a single mat, wooden platform, or laminated plastic sheet on a concrete floor. Prisoners did not always have access to potable water. In many cases family members had to supplement prisoners’ official rations, medicine, and basic necessities. Inmates also reportedly paid prison officials for necessities, including clean water, prison uniforms, plates, cups, and utensils.

Medical care was inadequate and reportedly contributed to deaths in custody. Prisoners suffered from health problems, including malaria, heart disease, high blood pressure, tuberculosis, skin diseases, and stomach problems, caused or exacerbated by unhygienic conditions and spoiled food. Former prisoners also complained of poorly maintained physical structures that provided no protection from the elements and had rodent, snake, and mold infestations.

Prison conditions in Rakhine State were reportedly among the worst.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 11 May 2020]


The NLD government’s push for the creation of a more comprehensive peace mechanism continued to be hampered by military offensives against various ethnic rebel groups, particularly in Shan and Kachin States, attacks by such groups against security forces, and continued divisions among signatories and non-signatories to a 2015 national cease-fire agreement. Reports of indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, and other abuses by the military continued, as militant groups engaged in forced disappearances and forced recruitment. Areas in the north remain riddled with land mines planted by both militants and the army. Authorities at times prevented aid groups from reaching populations affected by violence.

Prison conditions are frequently life-threatening.

Australia considering sanctions against Myanmar amid 'horrendous rapes, killings and tortures'

9 News,, 19 September 2018

[accessed 21 September 2018]

A fact-finding mission established by the United Nations has documented atrocities committed against minorities in Myanmar by the country’s military, the Tatmadaw.

The official report details incidents including public rapes of 40 people at a time so brutal victims were killed or maimed, sexual torture of men and boys, people forced back into burning homes to die and children killed in front of their parents.

While some horrific details of what has been going on in the country were revealed last month, including women and children tied to trees by their hair or their hands and raped, the entire report has now been released.

We’ll Turn Your Village Into Soil’: Survivors Recount One of Myanmar’s Biggest Massacres

Jon Emont and Niharika Mandhana, Photographs by A.M. Ahad for The Wall Street Journal, 11 May 2018

[accessed 11 May 2018]

Security forces went door to door, shooting anyone who emerged, including children, in a Sunday afternoon massacre.

On a Sunday afternoon last August, Ahammed Hossain hid for four hours in a pond in his village of Chut Pyin, screened by bushes and thorns. Around him, he recalled, there was gunfire and the cries of men, women and children trying to outrun the deadly force of Myanmar’s 33rd Light Infantry Division.

About a quarter of the village’s Rohingya Muslims, more than 350 people, died that day, Mr. Hossain said, which would be one of the largest massacres by Myanmar‘s security forces since the military initiated its campaign against the minority group last year. The campaign’s death toll, estimated in the thousands, compares with notorious ethnic killings of the recent past, including Albanians targeted in Kosovo and deadly gas attacks against Kurds in Iraq.

Rohingya crisis: Muslim women reveal rape and torture inflicted by Burma military forces

Lydia Smith, The Independent, 11 December 2017

[accessed 12 December 2017]

Rohingya women have come forward with stories of sexual assault, beatings and torture at the hands of Burmese security forces.   More than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh to escape an offensive by the Burmese military described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations.   Sunuara, 25, who only gave her first name, fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after her village was attacked on 25 August.

Sunuara, who was eight months pregnant at the time, was tied to a bed and raped by nine men for six hours, according to testimony provided to reporters with the Getty picture agency.

Roshida Begum, 22, escaped from Tula Toli village in Burma at the end of August.   The military is accused of petrol-bombing her village and setting houses on fire, shooting anyone they saw on the spot.

The soldiers shot the young boys and threw babies and children in the river, she said, adding that they took jewellery off the women and made them kneel up to their necks in a pond.

The military then took groups of four or five women into houses and raped them, including Roshida. She said her baby, who was 25 days old, was thrown to the ground and killed.

After the men were done, she said they slit the women’s necks with machetes and set the house on fire. Roshida survived and escaped, hiding in a paddy field until she came across another woman - and together they crossed into Bangladesh.

Report details prison torture in Myanmar

The nation, Yangon, 28 May 2016

[accessed 8 August 2016]

The study of 1,621 ex-inmates found the authorities tortured political prisoners systematically and extensively. The report describes deaths during investigation, in jail and labour camps due to insufficient food and water, the lack of health care and torture. Some political prisoners were used as porters in warzones.

Around 67 per cent said they suffered from inhumane treatment while 58 per cent said their human dignity had been violated.

After release there was social discrimination, travel bans, lack of education and job opportunities, financial difficulties, family problems, physical and mental suffering and barriers to joining social organisations.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


ABUSES AGAINST ROHINGYA - A January 2014 incident in a Rohingya village called Du Chee Yar Tan in Maungdaw township reportedly resulted in the killing of between 40 and 60 Rohingya villagers by security forces and Arakanese residents. One policeman was also reportedly killed. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights conducted a short investigation under restrictive government conditions and confirmed that a violent incident had taken place, and estimated that dozens of killings had occurred.

Two government investigations and one by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, which were below international standards and did not include impartial investigators, dismissed the incident as exaggerated. Journalists and independent human rights monitors have not been given adequate access to the area to investigate.

Murder, Torture And Political Prosecution By Extremist Buddhists Sparks Mass Exodus Of Myanmar’s Rohingya

Esther Htusan, The Associated Press AP, Sittwe, 17 November 2014

[accessed 3 December 2014]

Lewa said soldiers and border guards in northern Rakhine state, where most of the estimated 1.3 million Rohingya live, are engaging in a “campaign to create fear and to get them to leave.”

She said that in the last six weeks:

— At least four Rohingya men were tortured to death in northern Rakhine, in western Myanmar. Lewa said security forces broke one victim’s leg and burned his penis during interrogation, and that the pummeled body of another Rohingya was found in a river.

— Young men have been grabbed off the streets and brutally beaten by border guards and soldiers without any clear explanation. One photo snapped by cellphone shows a man after he was allegedly smashed with the butt of a gun in the jaw, cheekbone and stomach.

— More than 140 people have been arrested in two dozen villages on what Lewa said appeared to be trumped-up charges, ranging from immigration violations to alleged links with Islamic militants.

Burmese police still torture detainees, UN told

DVB, 10 September 2014

[accessed 16 September 2014]

“The practice of police torture in Myanmar [Burma] remains unchanged despite the efforts and work of countless individuals across the globe,” read the statement, which went on to detail six cases documented since January 2013. The group said that there are “far more incidents” and that “the practice of torture by law enforcement agencies has been standard operating procedure through the interrogation process”.

One case detailed in the report was of a rickshaw driver arrested in July 2014 on charges of stealing fuel. The man was reportedly tortured in custody as police tried to obtain a confession. Upon his release, he was admitted to hospital and died from his injuries on 7 July. The ALRC said that the man’s family was threatened by authorities not to contradict official accounts of the ordeal.

Myanmar army accused of torturing Kachin civilians

Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC Radio Australia, 10 June 2014

[accessed 10 June 2014]

SMITH: We've actually documented the torture of more than 60 civilians over the course of the last three years, not only Myanmar army, but also the Myanmar police force and military intelligence.    Essentially, what we're documenting is a systematic pattern that's emerged over the last three years.    All of the people that we spoke to were beaten severely, they're questioned for information about the Kachin independence army, which the Myanmar army is currently at war with. Some of the methods of torture that are being used are particularly brutal.    One example involves a case of eight Kachin farmers who were beaten severely over the course of many hours, and then they were forced to lick their own blood off of the ground.    We've documented cases of men being forced to dig what they were told would be their own graves, and then the authorities would release them afterwards, as a form of psychological torture. Some detainees have been denied food, water and latrines or normal sensory stimulation, such as sunlight.

Police Torture Leaves Teenage Boy Severely Injured

Salai Thant Sin, Myaung Mya Town, The Irrawaddy, 5 November 2013

[accessed 6 Nov 2013]

The family of a 14-year-old boy who was detained by police in Myaung Mya Town, Irrawaddy Division, says that he was tortured so badly while in custody that he has been unable to walk since his release more than a month ago.

Khin Shwe, the mother of Soe Lin, said police arrested her son as a suspect in the murder of their neighbor Kyaw Wai, who was killed on July 23. During his detention, she said that he was charged with murder at Myaung Mya Township Court and severely tortured during police interrogation.

“My child cannot walk at all,” Khin Shwe told The Irrawaddy. “Someone has to put him on his back and transport him if he needs to go somewhere. He has been like this since the day he was released from the police station. He can’t stand up and someone has to help him to do so.”

She added, “He says he can’t breathe properly. He said he felt like this after policemen put his head under water as part of torture in custody.”

Soe Lin told The Irrawaddy by phone that police had subjected him to violent torture, burning off his eyebrows, holding his head under water, pushing burning cigarettes on his skin, forcing him to kneel for long periods of time, and depriving him of food and water.

A doctor in a hospital in Pathein, the Irrawaddy Division capital, said he had examined Soe Lin’s health condition and confirmed that he was unable to walk, or even stand, by himself.

Torture Persists in Kachin State

Seamus Martov, The Irrawaddy, 2 Sept 2013

[accessed 13 March 2014]

“I’m very happy to be free now, but I cannot forgive them for what they did to me,” Brang Shawng says. Though his bruises and cuts have healed, he has numerous scars all over his body as a result of the brutal methods he says his interrogators used to extract the false confession that he was a serving captain in the KIO’s armed wing, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

When asked about the extent of his injuries, Brang Shawng lifts up his shirt to reveal a scar just above his navel. “This is where they cut me with a knife,” he recalls. He then lifts his longyi to show dozens of similar scars all over his legs and thighs, the result he says of being repeatedly poked with sharp objects.

Brang Shawng’s ordeal, which he says also included rubbing bamboo polls on his shins, has left him physically unable to work or even carry out simple household chores like carrying water from the IDP camp well just meters away from his family’s hut. Perhaps even more debilitating are the regular headaches and memory loss he now suffers from, an affliction he says was caused by his interrogators repeatedly delivering blows to his head.

His wife—whose very public campaign to push for Brang Shawng’s release was, according to his supporters, a key factor in obtaining his freedom—now worries about how she will support her three children and her husband all on her own.

Horrific Torture in Myanmar

Asia Sentinel, 15 May 2013

[accessed 13 March 2014]

Christian human rights group's four-week visit uncovers widespread abuse.

Noting a new "climate of openness" in Yangon and other cities, the report nonetheless details horrific torture of Kachins including "some of the worst accounts of human rights violations CSW has ever documented."

One Kachin former prisoner described the torture he endured during interrogation, including being hung upside down for a day and a night, beaten and attacked with knives. "They put a hand grenade in my mouth and threatened to pull the pin ... then they put a plastic bag over my face and poured water over it," he told the NGO.

The wife of one current Kachin prisoner described seeing her husband after he had been tortured. She told CSW: "He was covered in blood, and his nose was broken...An iron bar was rubbed along his legs. He was forced to engage in homosexual sex ...He was told that as he was a Christian, he should kneel on very sharp stones with his arms outstretched like Christ on the cross...He was beaten on his hands and arms."

Savage torture in ordinary criminal cases

Asian Human Rights Commission, Press Release, 19 February 2013

[accessed 19 February 2013]

2b. The police who detained the two accused denied them food, water and sleep throughout the time of their interrogation, in order to weaken their ability to resist the methods of torture used. These included repeated kicking, punching, slapping and beating with fists, shoes, truncheons, sticks and various other objects, while naked or mostly naked; hanging from the ceiling with hands cuffed behind the back while also being assaulted; hitting genitalia, burning genital hair with cigarettes; hitting the accused's forehead into the floor; forcing into stress positions, including kneeling for long periods on sharp gravel, and pretending to ride a horse; rolling a rod over the shins under heavy pressure to cause the skin to peel from the bone; and, repeated threatening to kill the accused if they did not admit to the crime. One of the accused the police also hung by his tip-toes with a noose, and forced needles through his tongue, causing him to swallow blood and have a sensation of death.

2e. When one of the accused could not tolerate the torture any longer and agreed to confess, the police tutored him and then took him before a judge to record the confession. He then refused to cooperate, denied the crime and said that he had been tortured. Rather than responding to his statements by any attention to the rights of the accused, the judge simply told the police to take him back. After further torture when he again came to court he was brought before the same judge, who this time did not ask him anything at all but instead helped the police to record falsely that no injuries were visible on the body of the accused, and required him to sign documents that amounted to a confession.

3a. The practice of extremely brutal forms of torture is systemic. Officials at all different levels of the police hierarchy, courts, administration and hospitals are aware of its occurrence, are involved actively or are complicit and condone it. Superiors do not prohibit the use of torture by subordinate officers but delimit it by warnings not that it is illegal or a violation of human rights but that if the torturers go too far and the victim dies then the police officers will, despite their pretenses to the contrary, have trouble.

Myanmar army 'torture' Kachin rebel suspects: UN

Agence France-Presse AFP, 16 Feb 2013

[accessed 17 February 2013]

[accessed 19 July 2017]

The United Nations on Saturday raised concern over the Myanmar army's "arbitrary arrest and torture" of men accused of being Kachin rebels, and urged further efforts to end hostilities in the far north.

Following a visit to the prison in state capital Myitkyina, Quintana said he was "concerned about the ongoing practice of arbitrary arrest and torture during interrogation by the military of Kachin men accused of belonging" to the KIA.

The envoy, who was speaking as he concluded a wide-ranging visit to Myanmar Saturday, said a large military presence in Kachin has meant that "serious human rights violations" continue.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 21 January 2013]

Burma showed signs of change in 2012, but the government still failed to seriously address the dire human rights situation in the country. The new government, dominated by the military and former generals, has released hundreds of political prisoners, enacted laws on forming trade unions and freedom of assembly, eased official media censorship, and allowed the opposition to register and contest by-elections. However, hundreds of political prisoners remain, ethnic civil war and inter-ethnic conflict has escalated, and Burmese security forces continue to use forced labor and commit extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, among other abuses.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

POLITICAL PRISONERS - Political prisoners continued to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and very poor prison conditions.

In February, Htet Htet Oo Wei, who was suffering from a number of health problems, was placed in solitary confinement reportedly for making too much noise. She was denied family visits and parcels.

In February, authorities in Yangon’s Insein prison placed political prisoner Phyo Wei Aung in solitary confinement for a month, after he complained about fellow inmates bullying other prisoners.

In May, at least 20 political prisoners in Insein prison went on hunger strike to protest the government’s limited release of such prisoners that month and to demand better prison conditions. As punishment, seven were placed in cells designed to hold dogs.

In July, the Monywa prison authorities in Sagaing division withdrew visitation rights to Nobel Aye (aka Hnin May Aung), after she urged high-ranking officials to withdraw recent public statements that claimed there were no political prisoners in Myanmar.

In October, 15 political prisoners in Insein staged a hunger strike in protest against the denial of sentence reductions for political prisoners, in contrast to criminal convicts. Some were reportedly deprived of drinking water and were otherwise ill-treated. Eight of them were placed in “dog cells”.

In October, information emerged that U Gambira, a Buddhist monk and leader of the 2007 anti-government demonstrations, was seriously ill and being held in solitary confinement. He had been suffering from severe headaches, possibly due to torture he was subjected to in prison in 2009. Prison authorities were reported to be regularly injecting him with drugs to sedate him.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 25 December 2018]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 21 January 2013]

[accessed 3 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – There are laws that prohibit torture; however, members of the security forces reportedly tortured, beat, and otherwise abused prisoners, detainees, and other citizens. They routinely subjected detainees to harsh interrogation techniques designed to intimidate and disorient.

On December 1, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners - Burma (AAPP) released a report on the "brutal and systematic" torture that the regime inflicted on political prisoners. Based on the testimony of 35 former political prisoners, the report gave graphic details of the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse the regime metes on dissidents, and identified by name many of the perpetrators. The report detailed the kinds of torture the regime uses, including: severe beatings, often resulting in loss of consciousness and sometimes death; repeated electrocution to all parts of the body, including genitals; rubbing iron rods on shins until the flesh rubs off; burning with cigarettes and lighters; prolonged restriction of movement for up to several months using rope and shackles around the neck and ankles; repeatedly striking the same area of a person's body every second for several hours; forcing prisoners to walk or crawl on an aggregate of sharp stones, metal and glass; using dogs to rape male prisoners; and threatening female prisoners with rape.

According to the report, the ministers of home affairs, defense, and foreign affairs form a three-person committee that oversees the detention of political prisoners charged under the State Protection Act.

The report also indicated that during initial interrogations torture is conducted mainly by MAS. Interrogation was also conducted by the Bureau of Special Investigations and the Special Branch of the Burma Police, which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Five political prisoners died while in custody (see section 1.a.).

On July 6, journalist and former member of the NLD executive committee U Win Tin was taken to a room in Insein Prison where prisoners are debriefed prior to release, but instead of being released, was then returned to his cell. Opposition sources believe that U Win Tin refused attempts by authorities to coerce him to sign a false confession (see section 2.a).

In June 2004 four members of the NLD were taken into custody, interrogated, and forced to stand on stools for three days. The 4 were forced to sign false written confessions that led to prison sentences of up to 15 years for violating the Emergency Provision Act of 1950, the Unlawful Association Act of 1908, and the Immigration Act of 1947. The court ruled the three sentences would not have to be served consecutively, but rather the defendants would serve the longest of the three counts (seven years). The son of the most prominent member of this group also was taken into custody and beaten by security agents before being released.

Reliable sources reported that in February 2004, authorities at Insein prison beat NLD member Khin Maung Oo unconscious. Also in February 2004 there was an unverified report that Rangoon policemen and firemen beat San Htay for unknown reasons. In July 2004 there was an unverified but credible report that Maung Aye, a theft suspect, died after being beaten while in police custody.

The military routinely confiscated property, cash, and food, and used coercive and abusive recruitment methods to procure porters. Persons forced into portering or other labor faced extremely difficult conditions, beatings, rape, lack of food, lack of clean water, and mistreatment that at times resulted in death.

During the year there were new reports by NGOs and community leaders that the military continued to commit abuses against ethnic minorities, including beatings, rape, forced mine clearing, and forced labor against villagers in Bago Division, Karen State, Mon State, Shan State, and Tanintharyi Division.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 7   Civil Liberties: 7   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 21 January 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 11 May 2020]

The judiciary is not independent. Judges are appointed or approved by the junta and adjudicate cases according to its decrees. Administrative detention laws allow people to be held without charge, trial, or access to legal counsel for up to five years if the SPDC concludes they have threatened the state’s security or sovereignty. Some basic due process rights are reportedly observed in ordinary criminal cases, but not in political cases, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2008 human rights report. In May 2008, the junta extended the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, who had served 13 of the past 19 years under house arrest with no charges. The frequently used Decree 5/96, issued in 1996, authorizes prison terms of up to 20 years for aiding activities “which adversely affect the national interest.” The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners of Burma (AAPPB) and Amnesty International estimate that the number of political prisoners increased from 1,192 in August 2007 to 2,123 in September 2008. Among those, 700 to 900 were arrested for participation in the 2007 uprising. Political prisoners are frequently held incommunicado in pretrial detention, facilitating torture. Since the end of 2005, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been barred from conducting independent visits to prison facilities. In April 2008, authorities in Rangoon’s Insein prison enacted regulations denying visitations rights for non–family members, effectively putting an end to nongovernmental programs providing food and other aid to inmates. Conditions at Insein prison have worsened since prison guards shot and killed 36 inmates during the panic associated with Cyclone Nargis’s landfall.

Some of the worst human rights abuses take place in the seven states populated mostly by ethnic minorities, who comprise roughly 35 percent of Burma’s population. In these border states, the military kills, beats, rapes, and arbitrarily detains civilians. The Chin, Karen, and Rohingya minorities are frequent victims. According to a March 2007 report released by the Women’s League of Chinland, Burmese soldiers rape and beat Chin women with impunity and are promised 100,000 kyat ($16,000) for marrying Chin women as part of a strategy of “Burmanization.”

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Myanmar (Burma)",, [accessed <date>]