Nine female medics detained by Myanmar soldiers during a raid this month have been sent to prison after a week of questioning, with several suffering brutal treatment at the hands of their interrogators, RFA has learned.
The nine women, most of them university students and all between the ages of 17 and 21, had joined a People’s Defense Force (PDF) battalion set up to resist military rule, and are now being held at Kalay Prison in western Myanmar’s Sagaing region, sources said.
Six of the women were seized in a raid in Kalay township on Nov. 16 and were taken to the prison on Nov. 24. The three others who were detained later and held for further questioning arrived at the prison on Sunday, a spokesman for Kalay PDF Battalion No. 3 said in a statement.
In an earlier report, PDF spokesman identified those being held in Kalay as Zam Zo Zaam, Man Lam Dim, Niang Dong Clin, Mai Sawn Dawngyi, Lal Tlanhuii, Lallmuankimi, Daisy Vanlalrawni and Lalpianfeli.
At least one of the detained medics was hospitalized following torture and beatings under questioning, and the women have not been allowed yet to visit with family members, the PDF said.
Speaking to RFA last week, one PDF fighter said his group had tried to rescue the young women following their arrest in the raid last week on their camp in Sagaing.
“We tried as hard as we could to rescue them after the confrontation, but we had to retreat because of the difference in our weapons. The military has better weapons than we do,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun — deputy information minister for Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council — declined when contacted last week to comment on the case of the detained medics, and requests for comment on allegations that three of those held were hospitalized after being tortured in custody have received no reply.
A spokeswoman for the Kalay PDF Medical Corps, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said that the military junta that overthrew civilian rule in Myanmar earlier this year should take full responsibility for the torture of those held in detention.
“They are torturing women and members of the medical corps. We strongly condemn the psychological and physical abuse of women,” she said. “The [ruling] military council is fully responsible for these violations of human rights.”
More than 30 clashes between Myanmar’s military and People’s Defense Force fighters have taken place in the Kalay area since the Feb. 1 military coup that ousted the democratically elected civilian government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, according to local PDF sources.
More than 65 people have since been killed in government attacks in Kalay, with more than 360 others arrested and more than 100 government soldiers killed in the fighting, the militia group said.
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