Prison Defiance: Protest erupts at Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison over medical neglect

Security personnel outside Yangon’s Insein Central Prison in a recent file photo. Loud protests broke out inside Friday morning. Photo: Red News / Facebook
Security personnel outside Yangon’s Insein Central Prison in a recent file photo. Loud protests broke out inside Friday morning. Photo: Red News / Facebook

“We’ve written the new history with our own blood!”

Shouts loud enough to be heard from afar went up inside Yangon’s notorious Insein Central Prison this morning as inmates staged a loud protest amid reports that they are being denied medical attention for an outbreak of COVID-19.

“It’s getting serious, brothers and sisters,” and “Let’s be united together!” could be heard in a video clip filmed from outside the prison at about 8am on Friday morning. The prison is packed with the junta’s perceived enemies, including thousands of political prisoners such as students, artists, and civilian lawmakers.

Prisoners were reportedly heard from the neighborhood singing the song Thway Thit Sar, a popular protest anthem at large rallies held since the early February coup d’etat. 

“Release Mother Su and our president immediately!” was also heard in regard to the jailed de facto head of state, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. 

“Are we united? Yes we are!” and “We must win” were also heard amid chanting that continued for about 15 minutes. 

Minutes later, two military vehicles entered the facility, according to social media posts by residents near the prison. No further details were yet available about the protest, its fallout, or whether anyone was injured.

“The protest is now over. It’s under control,” Yangon Divisional Prison Superintendent Zaw Zaw told Irrawaddy

One prison staffer told Channel 8 News that the protest erupted in response to a lack of medical care for inmates locked in their cells with COVID-19 as well as restrictions on visits. 

The prison was placed on semi-lockdown on July 8 due to an outbreak there for at least two weeks. Court proceedings have been suspended.

The junta has not released any political prisoners in response to the outbreak at prisons across the country. Only those charged with drug-related offenses prior to Feb. 1 were released on Thursday evening.

Former head of Myanmar’s vaccination campaign contracts COVID-19 in prison

Nyan Win, the chief executive of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party, died Tuesday at Yangon General Hospital after being taken there by soldiers for COVID-19 he contracted behind bars. 

The virus ravaging the country out of control has struck a number of opposition figures.

Chief Yangon minister Phyo Min Thein was rushed to a military hospital in Mingaladon Township last week after losing consciousness. He had tested positive for the virus along with his wife, Khin Mi Mi Kywe, while in junta custody. 

Jailed U.S. journalist Danny Fenster also said recently that he was denied medical care after an apparent bout of COVID-19.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), a human rights group based in Mae Sot, Thailand, in its latest update reported that security forces have killed 929 people and arrested 6,860 others. More than 5,300 have been charged and jailed during crackdowns against dissent since the coup.

Myanmar is in the grips of a severe outbreak. Yesterday, 6,701 new cases and 319 deaths were logged, though that is believed to be a significant undercount.


Jailed U.S. journalist in court again after likely COVID-19 bout at Insein Prison

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