Burma is home to 43 prisons and around 100 labour camps. Conditions in these jails are notoriously poor – inmates suffer regular physical and psychological abuse from officials, while medicine is scant and overcrowding common. The majority of political prisoners are held in Rangoon's Insein prison, although many are sent to remote jails hundreds of miles from their families where they are forced to battle extreme weather conditions and malaria.
Insein prison is most notorious for being the detention center of Myanmar’s most prominent political prisoners.
Insein prison known as the ‘darkest hole in Burma’ is located in Rangoon division in lower Burma. The total prison population is between 9000 and 10,000 prisoners including over 300 political prisoners with only 3 doctors. It is a top security prison where Aung San Suu Kyi spent time.
The 300 political prisoners in Insein have been given extremely long jail punishments even for minor political activities
Among the political prisoners are 225 monks, 11 MPs, 12 lawyers, eight doctors, 157 women, and nearly 30 media workers. Burma has been known to sentence people as young as 14 to years in prison for seemingly minor political activities such as the distribution of leaflets. One man, General Hso Ten, the chairman of the Shan State Peace Council, is serving a 106-year sentence for high treason.
The website also includes testimonies from former political detainees who bravely shared their prison experiences. Wai Moe was one of the prisoners who were tortured
Once I had shackles placed on my ankles, and they didn’t remove these for seven months. They weighed more than 10 kilos, and became part of my body. Other times you were forced to clean the iron bars on cell door with cloth for four hours a day – 8-10am, and 2-4pm. This is physical and mental torture – there’s no reason for it, but if you refuse, you are beaten. And another punishment was being forced to catch flies with a plastic bag. If you can’t catch them, they will beat you or tie you in shackles.
There are 17 jailed video journalists for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB). One of the video journalists currently under detention is Hla Hla Win. She had been detained under the Import/Export Act for using an unregistered motorbike but her jail sentence has been extended to 20 years
During the first weeks of her seven year sentence, she was interrogated and eventually admitted to being a DVB reporter. On 20 December 2009 her jail term was extended by 20 years for violating the Electronics Act, which prohibits downloading or uploading data from the internet that is considered damaging to the security of the military regime. This is a tactic often used by the regime to imprison video reporters. She was handed a further 20 years and offered no legal representative.
A protest action demanding her freedom has been scheduled next week in front of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok.