Fourteen political prisoners went on hunger strike at a Sagaing region prison on Friday to demand the return of confiscated items – including books and blankets – and the removal of restrictions on mail delivery.
The hunger strike is the latest effort by prisoners to protest harsh conditions at Monywa Prison.
Prison guards raided the cells of the political prisoners on Friday, according to the Monywa People’s Strike Steering Committee.
“Authorities from multiple departments – including police, soldiers and the prison – confiscated prisoners’ books, clothes, pots, dishes and blankets, and left them with a bare wardrobe,” steering committee member Lwin Moe Thant told Radio Free Asia. “They took all their belongings.”
The reason for the raid was unknown. There are nearly 700 political prisoners being held at Monywa Prison.
A similar raid took place on political prisoners at the facility in January 2021, Lwin Moe Thant said.
In April 2022, guards shot at protesting inmates who were chanting anti-junta slogans, sources at the time told RFA. At least one prisoner was killed.
Lwin Moe Thant said the 14 prisoners who went on hunger strike on Friday come from each ward at the prison. More inmates could join the hunger strike if demands aren’t met, he said.
RFA’s calls to the junta spokesman for the Sagaing region, Tin Than Win, went unanswered on Friday.
Authorities have responded to past protests over ill-treatment by political prisoners in Yangon’s Insein Prison and Mandalay’s Obo Prison by beating protesters, denying them medical treatment and putting them in solitary confinement.
More than 24,000 people, including pro-democracy activists, have been arrested since the Feb. 1, 2021 coup, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma). The association says almost 20,000 are still being detained across Myanmar.
Translated by Htin Aung Kyaw. Edited by Matt Reed.