COVID19 Surging In Myanmar's Prisons, Thanks To The Junta
Myanmar’s Covid-19 crisis is ripping through the country's most marginalized populations, including those in the country’s prisons. The junta's mass arrests correspond with a surge in infections in the country’s prisons, where access to health care is poor.
Over 600 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Myanmar’s prisons and it is estimated there are almost 4,000 new infections daily nationwide. Due to the junta's destruction of the health care system, it is next to impossible to know the true number of infections and deaths. On August 8, prisoners held a protest inside Mandalay’s Obo prison after the Covid-19 related death of Dr. Maung Maung Nyein Tun. He was a doctor who was arrested for demanding democracy and participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement. The junta transferred him to Obo prison despite showing severe COVID19 symptoms. On July 23, a protest broke out at Yangon’s Insein prison due to the death from Covid19 of Nyan Win, a notable National League for Democracy member, and worsening COVID19 outbreak. At least 12 inmates at Insein have died from the virus.
Released detainees say few measures are taken to stop the spread of the virus, masks are insufficient, and sanitary conditions are appalling. Prison authorities have also not taken any measures to protect vulnerable populations from infection. Since February 1 the junta has destroyed much of the health care infrastructure amid the COVID19 pandemic, helping spread the virus through incompetence and poor governance. It has arrested dozens of doctors with hundreds more with arrest warrants issued. Meanwhile, infections continue to rise nationwide, while the junta claims to have everything under control.