SPDC Junta got ‘license to torture’

SPDC Junta got ‘license to torture’

Adapted from the Malaysiakini’s letter by Josef Roy Benedict on Jul 1, 08

On the June 26, the world celebrated the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. June 26 is the day the United Nations adopted the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.


This treaty was adopted by the United Nations in 1984 after years of campaigning by various human rights organisations and came into force in 1987. Today, over 145 states are party to this convention including countries in this region such as Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia. When a country ratifies this treaty, it makes sure that laws in the country are in conformity with the treaty.

Despite this global acceptance that torture is wrong, illegal under international law and unacceptable in all circumstances, Myanmar SPDC has refused to ratify this international treaty.

One particular agency which has benefitted from SPDC’s continued acceptance of torture is the Myanmar military intelligence,  police intelligence or Special Branch. They have systematically employed techniques of interrogation including a combination of physical assaults, deception and coercion, and intense mental and physical pressure at times amounting to torture, which became entrenched over the years.

Patterns of torture and other ill-treatment of  detainees have been documented by various human rights organisations since the Myanmar Junta rule by different generals, against opposition, politicians, journalists, educationists, community workers and other civil society members. In most cases, torture and ill- treatment of political detainees take place all the time.

Detainees have been assaulted, forced to strip, deprived of sleep, food and water, told that their families would be harmed, and subjected to prolonged aggressive interrogation to break them down (referred to as ‘turning over’, ‘neutralisation’ or ‘brain washing’) coerce confessions or elicit information.

Detainees detailed how they were forced to describe how they made love to their wives, being hit across the face with a newspaper; spat at and forced to drink the spittle; and being forced to sit in the cold blast of air conditioners during interrogation.

During this period, detainees are usually held in solitary confinement, often in a windowless cell where they lose all sense of time. Within a context of actual or threatened physical assault, the interrogation procedure is designed to induce a feeling of complete disorientation and dependence on the interrogators as the only point of human contact.

The sense of helplessness is exacerbated by their knowledge that access to effective judicial protection has been blocked, and that visits by lawyers and family members are entirely at the discretion of their interrogators.

Despite committing systematic abuse against detainees, none of these SPDC interogating officers has ever been charged and brought to justice. 

And finally, as we condemn governments which have employed torture as part of the so-called global ‘war on terror’, we Myanmars must call on our SPDC military government to immediately send a strong message that torture is unacceptable and ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

I believe we, as a country, will never be secure as long as we allow this department of institutional torture to continue to operate with impunity outside the rule of law.


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