Thet Oo says his
military interrogators in Myanmar kicked him in the head
until he blacked out, shackled his polio-ridden legs, and
then threw him in a tiny, dark cell where he spent
much of the next 12 years.
people like animals,'' said the 46-year-old, one of dozens
of former political prisoners who have fled across the
border to Thailand.He and others recounted this week
how they had been imprisoned and tortured by
Myanmar's military regime for their pro-democracy
Oo was a security
guard for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi before she
was placed under house arrest in 1989. Her party won
national elections the next year, but the junta did
not recognize the results and began rounding up her
Oo was detained
and brought before his interrogators, who reeked of
alcohol, and was beaten so badly that he lost most of his
security forces cracked down on demonstrators last week,
former prisoners said they were sickened by televised images
of Buddhist monks and students being chased down,
bludgeoned with batons, and loaded onto police trucks.
''I'm so worried
for them,'' Oo told an Associated Press reporter and
television crew traveling through this remote border region
in northern Thailand.
military government has repeatedly denied using torture or
abusing its prisoners. A group of political prisoners is
collecting evidence, including lists of jailers and
torturers, to give to human rights organizations.
Association for Political Prisoners, comprised of around
100 former inmates, has already put out one report on
torture in Myanmar. It described gay rape, electric
shocks to the genitals, partial suffocation by water,
burning of flesh with hot wax, and being made to stand
for hours in tubs of urine and feces.
said 10 people were killed and nearly 2,100 arrested in
last week's demonstrations, with 700 later released.
Diplomats and dissidents say the death toll is likely
much higher and up to 6,000 people were seized,
including hundreds of monks who led the protests.
Some were brought
to Yangon's notorious Insein prison. Witnesses said
others were held in university buildings and an old horse
track for questioning.
Those who have
been released so far have been too frightened to speak out
about their treatment. One man detained for five days,
however, said he was not allowed to contact his
family, had no bed, and did not get enough to eat.
military seized power in 1962, ending an experiment in
democracy and leading the resource-rich nation toward
isolation and economic ruin. The current junta has
been in power since 1988, when it crushed
Myo Myint, who
lost a leg, an arm, and an eye while fighting as a soldier
for the Myanmar government, was arrested in 1989 after he
quit the army and switched his loyalty to the
He says his
interrogators stripped him naked and tied him with a leather
belt to a seesaw, placing him head down for four hours and
pouring water in his face as he fell in and out of
consciousness. Another time they put a bag over his
head and kicked away his crutch.
''I still have
nightmares,'' the 45-year-old says. ''I wake up, and my
whole body is wet with sweat.''
Oo Tezaniya, a
42-year-old monk who spent eight years and three months in
prison for opposing the government, clenched his hands in
the folds of his saffron robe as he told how he was
seized in the middle of the night in 1988.
He was brought to
an interrogation center, beaten with guns, and then
thrown into a dark cell for a month with two other men and
excrement all over the floor,'' he said.
sank this week when he saw pictures of what dissidents
said was a monk's body floating face down in a Yangon river.
The junta said in a statement Friday that the body was
not of a monk but of a man ''with a piece of saffron
robe tied round the neck.''
''I thought the
monks might be arrested and defrocked, but not that the
troops would open fire,'' Tezaniya said sadly. ''I'm
surprised, even after all I've seen.'' (Robin