Thu, 20 Jan 2022

Poor conditions kill thousands in Myanmar's notorious labor camps

Khalid Umar Malik
14 Jan 2022, 19:46 GMT+10

SAGAING, Myanmar - On Monday, resistance fighters raided a prison labor camp near Myanmar's border with India, murdering an estimated 11 guards in a shootout.

The Tamu People's Defence Force (PDF) said it raided the Oak Pho Kanbaung site in Sagaing's Kabaw valley around 5:30 a.m. and ordered the guards to surrender.

According to Ba Marn, an officer with the Tamu PDF's Battalion 1, the guards refused. "The prison officer gave shouting orders while we had them surrounded, and chaos ensued. People died on both sides," he said.

The camp is located about 10 miles north of Tamu, near the settlement of Watshu. It is one of several slave labor camps in Myanmar notorious for their inhumane working conditions.

Thousands are said to have died at the camps in recent decades due to malnutrition, beatings, and sickness. Conditions improved during the political reforms in 2011, but little information about the camps has emerged since last year's military coup.

During Monday's fight, the PDF and prison guards traded fire for many minutes, with the guards deploying machine guns. According to Ba Marn, a prison officer and his wife were among those killed.

Two 20-year-old PDF members were also killed, while four others were injured.

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