Burma: fresh evidence of mass detentions, hostage-taking, deaths in custody and

As detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi meets members of her political party for the first time in more than three years, Amnesty International has today published fresh evidence of grave human rights violations in Burma since September’s crackdown.

The human rights organisation has written to the Burmese authorities outlining its evidence of mass detentions, hostage-taking, “disappearances” and even deaths in custody.

The new findings - published in a briefing called “No Return to ‘Normal’” - come ahead of next week's visit to Burma by the UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.

Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Programme Director Catherine Baber said:

"Widespread arbitrary detentions, hostage-taking, beatings and torture in custody and enforced disappearances clearly disprove any claims from the Burmese government of returning normality.

"Instead of protesting about interference in sovereignty, the Burmese authorities must honour their promises of 'full cooperation' with the UN through full access for Mr Pinheiro and full delivery of concrete human rights improvements identified by the UN Human Rights Council and Security Council."

Amnesty International's key concerns include:

The continued detention of some 700 political prisoners including at least 15 individuals sentenced to prison terms of up to nine and a half years;

An official policy of taking family members and friends as "hostages" to force others to turn themselves in;

Deaths in detention due to severe beatings and others forms of torture;

Appalling detention conditions including the denial of adequate food, water and sanitary facilities as well as the keeping of detainees in "dog cells";

Enforced disappearances since the crackdown, including at least 72 individuals whose whereabouts the authorities have failed to account for;

Failure by the Burmese authorities to account for the number of people killed during the crackdown;
Evidence of marksmen on military trucks and bridges using live ammunition to target individual demonstrators during the crackdown resulting in the death of at least two students and the serious wounding of others;

Ambulances being denied access to victims on the streets during September's demonstrations and private medial clinics ordered not to treat the injured.

Amnesty International is calling on the Burmese authorities to account for all those killed and those who have “disappeared”. The authorities must also provide the UN Special Rapporteur with a full list of all those detained and sentenced since the crackdown as well as full and unrestricted access to all detention facilities and crematoria.

For a full copy of the briefing, please see: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA160372007

First-hand audio testimony from monks who witnessed the brutal attack on a monastic training school in Myitkyina, in the far north of the country on 25 September, is also available at: http://news.amnesty.org/pages/podcast-eng br />

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