Fleeing Burma where life is at risk and liberty is curtailed
Statement of Burmese nationals on Guam seeking asylum in the USA, January 24, 2001


Physical abuse and mental torture

It is a tall order to attempt to detail all the incidences of physical abuse and mental torture that the government has used against its opponents which they call “the enemy of the state.” We will mention a few.

The “opponents” were arrested usually in the middle of the night and unexpectedly. “A few minutes of questioning” always resulted in months or years of imprisonment.

Tortures take different forms:

- Meals (usually rice) were mixed with sand.

- Pins were pushed between the flesh and fingernails.

- Prisoners were forced to kneel on sharp pebbles until their knees bled.

- Inmates were put naked in the open to be “feasted” by malaria carrying mosquitoes.

- Simple drops of water on the head for hours turns into horrifying and deafening sounds to the victim.

- Plastic bags were placed to envelop their heads for a period of time until the victim becomes unconscious, and then he/she was released for a time to recover.

- The prisoner was placed in an empty barrel and pushed around by trucks for hours.

- Those arrested or transferred to another location were bagged into gunny bags and tied at the top, to be sat upon by soldiers on moving trucks.

- Hot and pointed iron rods were pierced through the flesh of the thighs.

- A rat was placed in a pot which was attached to the prisoner's stomach; when the pot was made hot the rat dug into the stomach in an desperate attempt to escape.

- To break their will, prisoners were placed without food or water for days.

- Their four limbs were stretched out and tied to four corners of the room.

- Prisoners were put in a dark room for days, making them virtually blind for days.

- Prisoners usually became “mentally disturbed” when they were hung upside down, their legs tied to the ceiling and their heals beaten slowly with an iron rod.

- Inmates were threatened constantly to be shot, a mental torture that keeps them constantly awake, making sleep impossible.

- Some of those arrested are turned into forced labor, known as “zebet” who in uniform were regimented into hard labor for months and years, removed to remote areas where neither their relatives nor religious and social workers can see or help them. These prisoners were condemned to die slow deaths. They were often put in chains even while working, and most of them died in isolated parts of the country where medical facilities are non-existent. Often bullock yokes were tied to their neck in pairs, as if they were bulls, plowing muddy fields, making furrows for planting paddies in the rainy season. Many of the “zebet” prisoners collapsed exhausted in the mud. Then they were removed to isolated areas never to be fed any meals, left alone to die a slow death. Their bones were never recovered, nor their graves known. Their number is in the thousands, most likely around 40,000.

Some of us who fled to Guam have gone through these kinds of physical torture. These dangers are some of the risks we will face again if we are forced to return to Burma from Guam.