(part of The Darkness Visible series)
There are few scenarios a person can imagine that are worse than those that arise in places like Buthidaung Prison. This horrific prison is a hellish pit that can easily be compared to Tuol Sleng S-21 in Pol Pot's Cambodia. The horrors that occur here are the sorts of things that nightmares are made of. These are the sorts of crimes that once committed can never be set straight once again... they can not be truly forgiven... they can not be forgot.
Since the outbreak of ethnic violence in the summer of 2012 the police in the Arakan have been organized in their effort to strip the Rohingya population of its males. The idea behind this tactic is that once the able bodied men are removed the population is left helpless and completely defenseless. This had led to outright massacres of Rohingya men and boys and the arbitrary arrest of countless Rohingya men. It is a tactic that both supports their genocidal intentions and sets the stage for the completion of their campaign of ethnic cleansing.
For the men and boys that are dragged off to Buthnidaung prison the rest of the world might as well be a million miles away. Life as they know it has ended. Once inside the gates of hell itself are just a few paces away.
In recent days information about life inside this prison have leaked out of Burma through the dedicated work of bloggers at the Rohingya Blogger website (source listed below). The accounts of torture are reminiscent of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. And just as the world did with Tuol Sleng... many are already brushing the accounts of torture off as "exaggerated" at best.
Yet whether you believe it or not, these are just a few of the things Rohingya prisoners at Buthidaung Prison have to go through on a daily basis.
- Prisoners are bound with ropes tightly and forced to remain naked.
- Upon arrival prisoners are forced down to the ground and their heads are stepped upon by the prison guards.
- Prisoners are stripped naked for extended periods while waiting to bathe, when taken off to the bathing areas they are marched off still nude and return in the same manner.
- At times the prisoners genitals are touched, beaten, and or tied with ropes till they become swollen and dark with blood.
- During torture the Rohingya prisoner are forced to the ground as the guards set upon their backs and beat them in the head with hammers. At times Rakhine prisoners are brought in to whip the Rohingya with chains, beat them with sticks, or attack them with hammers.
- Some Rohingya prisoners have had limbs, ears, and even their noses cut (at times amputated) while being beat about the face till they are bruised severely.
- Rohingya prisoners are beat about the chest, limbs, and head till they begin to bleed both externally and internally.
- Prison guards, often with the help of Rakhine prisoners, pluck the beards of the Rohingya prisoners. They also pull the hair off the Rohingyas' heads and body.
- Rohingya prisoners are burnt with charcoals. Their genitals are shocked with electricity and burnt with boiling water.
- Rohingya prisoners are starved and deprived of water. When allowed to bathe the prisoners are given little water so as to prevent both bathing and drinking of the dirty water.
- Rohingya prisoners are often subjected to sleep deprivation. When caught falling asleep the Rohingya are beaten, at times nearly to death. This helps the guards break the Rohingya prisoners and induce psychiatric issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Rohingya prisoners are banned from praying or observing the Sabbath.
- Heavy shackles (yokes) are placed upon the Rohingyas' shoulders as they are made to walk around with the extra burden.
- Rohingya prisoners are often made to crawl about as guards ride them like animals.
- Rohingya prisoners are forced to walk across nail ridden planks and broken glass.
- Guards use scissors, nails, needles and knives to peel off the skin of Rohingya prisoners. At times the guards will cut the eyes and pierce the tongues of their victims.
- If a Rohingya urinates or defecates during the course of being tortured the guards will force the Rohingya victim to eat or drink the waste as the guards watch.
- Fire ants are poured over Rohingya prisoners so that they will bite and sting the victims.
- When stray dogs are available the guards will force Rohingya prisoners to lay down as they apply rice and curries to their bodies. The dogs are led through and forced upon the Rohingya victims. The dogs willingly eat the food and often bite the Rohingya as the guards agitate the dogs to make them more aggressive.
- Guards use slurs to dehumanize the Rohingya constantly. They often refer to the Rohingya as animals in ways such as "Kalar cows".
- When taking Rohingya to the court the guards tie their victims up and beat them severely.
- At any point of being moved or when inside or outside the Rohingya are tied together with ropes around their necks, waists, and limbs. All the while they are beaten by guards.
- Rohingya who become ill are denied any form of medical assistance or medicine.
- Rohingya prisoners are forbidden from meeting with relatives to accept cash, clothing, medicine, or food.
- Rohingya prisoners are often raped. Often the victim is forced to swallow the sperm of their assailant.
- Rohingya who are disabled, elderly, or very young are all subject to the same forms of torture as the able bodied Rohingya prisoners.
- Rohingya prisoners are often told during torture that their religion is worthless. Guards will often tell them, "You said your G-d is great. Now call your G-d to save you."
- Rohingya prisoners who are killed during their captivity due to torture, disease, or outright murder are not given a proper burial. Their bodies are not turned over to their families. Instead the corpses are disposed of in the same manner the prison removes garbage and human waste.
In December of 2012 other organizations had already warned of Rohingya prisoners at Buthidaung Prison being used as slave labor. Those accounts told of how Rohingya prisoners were being starved to death as they were forced to work in rice paddies outside of the prison. They told of how the Rohingya were marched in and out of the prison bound and tied like animals as they were beaten in plain sight of the Rakhine onlookers. These accounts said clearly that the Rohingya prisoners were not given proper clothing or equipment to work and yet were made to work till their hands were bleeding.
Yet here we are again with even more disgusting accounts of blatant torture coming out of Burmese state run prisons. Here we are again as the world looks the other way. Here we are again as the leaders of Myanmar tell the UN and US that nothing wrong is happening in the Arakan... that this is just a phase... that is will pass and democracy will take hold in Burma.
With this information it should be clear to those outside of Burma that the government of Myanmar is either already on its way to completing its genocide or is preparing its own "final solution". The facts all point to a government that is obviously prepared to annihilate an entire race of people both due to their ethnicity and religious inclinations. So why are we still waiting for Burma to fix this problem? Why are we still waiting to see how this all pans out?
If the Rohingya people are not helped they will never be saved from Burma's cruel intentions. Without foreign intervention the Rohingya people of Myanmar are damned to the same fate as those souls lost to Pol Pot's genocidal regime. If the prisoners of Buthidaung Prison are not liberated they will suffer the same deaths as those who were dragged off to Tuol Sleng S-21.
The question remains... how many more need perish before the world wakes up?
If you want to do something to help end the plight of the Rohingya people you are not alone. Screamers around the world are lifting their voices to raise awareness of the situation in the Arakan. But our voices can only do so much. Our actions must match the tone with which we speak. Our bite must be as strong as our bark... so to speak.
That is where organizations such as Partners Relief and Development come into the picture. They are currently one of the few relief groups able to reach the Rohingya in Burma. Their actions are making a difference in a place that few others are willing to venture. But don't take my word for it... follow this link and see for yourself. ( http://www.partnersworld.org/ )
Join us by screaming... join the fight by donating.
Source Documents (note not all sources listed)
Mayu Press Network
Partners Relief and Development