TESTIMONY OF A KAREN POLITICAL PRISONER

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TESTIMONY OF A KAREN POLITICAL PRISONER

Published date:
Thursday, August 25, 1994

The following account was given by a Karen political prisoner who was released from Bassein Prison in the Irrawaddy Delta in June 1994. He was not arrested in the Delta and it is unclear why they sent him there, but most of the political prisoners in that prison are Karen church and community leaders who were arrested after an armed Karen uprising failed in the Delta in October 1991. They arrested me on January 29, 1992. I went to a village called C---. There was a family there with a son who wanted to join the Revolution, and his mother thought I had come from the KNLA [Karen National Liberation Army] to encourage the ivillage youth to join, so she reported this to the authorities mistakenly, and the police came and arrested me. They took me to Chaung Gone lockup. I remember that they started to torture me on February 14, and they kept torturing me until March 5. They tortured and interrogated me for long periods. They asked, "How many KNLA soldiers went to join the Delta Karen soldiers?" I told them I don't know anything about that, because I don't. They asked me about General Bo Mya and 101 Battalion [KNLA] at Kaw Moo Rah. I said I don't know anything about that because it’s so far from Mone Township and I’ve never even been there. They slapped both my ears at the same time very hard with their hands. It made my ears ring and I went completely deaf for 5 minutes ['boxing the ears' like this can very easily cause permanent hearing damage]. They punched me and kicked me, and they dragged me to the river and held my head underwater while they stabbed the back of my neck. They held my head underwater for over a minute at a time. The worst thing they did was shocking with electricity. They put metal caps on 2 of my fingers and turned on the electricity, and they can control how much voltage they stab you with. They turned up the power higher and higher until it was unbearable. I felt paralyzed for an hour afterwards, and it was so terrible that I couldn't do anything.. I couldn't even eat.