Friday, May 9, 2008

NLD (L-A) News Release 2/05/2008

Situation in Insein Prison

Cyclone Nargis ripped through the Irrawaddy delta and Rangoon on Friday night with winds of 190 kilometers (120 miles) per hour.

The storm severely damaged Insein Prison in Rangoon, and many roofing sheets were torn off of Ward No. (1). Prisoners on the upper level of that ward were drenched and had no shelter or security from the storm. Therefore the prisoners peacefully asked the prison wardens and authorities to move them to a secured location or lower level of the building. However, prison authorities neglected their pleas and reprimanded them with harsh words. As a result of the neglect, prisoners started to riot. Armed prison guards from the guard towers and main jail shot the rioters. As prisoners were shot and killed, other prisoners began to set fire to the building. Military guards opened fire on prisoners again. It is reported that over 400 prisoners were shot to death.

The following day, some prisoners were interrogated and four (4) of them were tortured to death by prison authorities. These four prisoners include: Ohn Kyaw (NLD member from Dawpon Township), Thant Zaw (Hlaing Township), Win Tun Win (Insein Township), and another anonymous prisoner. It is reported that 96 prisoners from Ward No. (1) were prohibited from having their family interview (htaung winsar). According to the report, three (3) of the 1,800 prisoners in Ward (1) included: Yan Yan Chan and Zay Yar Thaw, recently arrested Hip Hop singers, and Ko Kyaw Ko Ko from All Burma Federation of Students' Union.

It is necessary to investigate this incident and take legal action against those responsible for shooting innocent prisoners in this violent crackdown on victims of Cyclone Nargis at Insein Prison.

Situation in Irrawaddy Division

Cyclone Nargis completely destroyed a third of all fifty-six (56) village tracks, in Laputta Township of Irrawaddy Division. The most severely damaged village tracts include Thingan Gyi, Pyinsalu, Rway, and Layyin Kwin. During the night of the storm, a 12 to 16 foot tidal wave crashed down and flooded all one-story buildings, forcing people to climb on top of buildings for survival. When severe winds blew, people were thrown into the water, branches of trees broke, and house pillars collapsed. According to an eye witness, only one of the village’s one thousand houses remained standing after the flood.

In Laputta Township, local residents report that over 80,000 people have died or remain missing, and most people still do not have access to food or drinking water. Ships collected the survivors who were sent to monasteries and pagoda compounds. Donations from Laputta Township were collected to feed people with porridge. In Bogalay, over 10,000 people died and remain missing. In Kunchan Gone Township, about 5,000 people from town and 5,000 people from the countryside, have died or remain missing.

It is necessary for the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to call for immediate international assistance and to launch relief work in affected areas as soon as possible. In so doing, it is also necessary for the relief materials and cash assistance to reach the real victims of the natural disaster in the right way.

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