Hundreds of civilians held in concentration camp-like conditions in Sagaing

Human rights group reports that about 345 people are being held in a police station in inhumane conditions. The Arakan Army has announced that it is close to defeating another army battalion in Rakhine; meanwhile, the repatriation of Chinese nationals involved in Myanmar-based online scams continues.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 340 people, including children and political dissidents, have been held for months at a police station in Monywa, Sagaing region, in concentration camp-like conditions, this according to The Irrawaddy, a news website run by Myanmar exiles opposed to the country’s military regime.

According to the Political Prisoners Network (PPN), a human rights organisation, the military is detained 345 people without due process, accusing them of belonging to the People’s Defence Forces (PDFs), the armed wing of the National Unit Government set up in exile.

The prisoners include individuals accused of sharing pro-resistance posts on social media or working as informants, explained Ko Thaik Tun Oo, co-founder of PPN Myanmar.

The number of people detained far exceeds the police station’s capacity, already stretched with only 100 detainees.

A handwritten eyewitness account from inside the jail notes that some 20 children, aged 15 and above, are among the prisoners.

The statement goes on to say that the detainees are insulted by police officers, receive little food, and are denied medical care and family visits.

Seven people chosen to accompany soldiers to a village never returned. A detainee's relative said they had to bribe police officers to get food to them.

According to Ko Thaik Tun Oo, the prisoners receive only one meal a day and are held hostage to prevent resistance forces from attacking the police station.

In the past few months, the ruling junta appears to be in a state of crisis. It seized power in a coup in February 2021 setting off the ongoing civil war.

The Arakan Army, one of the ethnic militias fighting the army, said it was on the cusp of defeating an army battalion near the town of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State.

According to local media, local commanders are held up in government offices and people’s homes.

The Arakan Army is part of the Three Brotherhood Alliance, which launched an offensive in northern Shan State in late October, capturing several cities key to trade with China.

In recent months, China brokered a ceasefire between the militias and the army to protect its interests in Myanmar.

Two days ago, about 1,200 Chinese nationals held in online scam centres were repatriated.

According to Deutsche Welle, it is not certain that the freed individuals will be treated as victims of human trafficking.