YANGON (dpa) – The Myanmar government has rejected a parliamentary request to close the country’s notorious labour camps, media reports said Tuesday.
Deputy Home Affairs Minister Brigadier-General Kyaw Kyaw Tun told parliament on Monday that there was no plan to close the prison camps as there was nothing inhumane about the treatment of inmates serving hard labour sentences, the reports said.
The labour camps, known as Yebet camps, were first introduced to Myanmar in 1978, and over 4,000 prisoners died at these camps between 1978 and 2004, Kyaw Kyaw Tun said.
In 2004, the ruling junta dissolved 36 labour camps and renamed the remaining 46 as “Agriculture and Livestock Breeding Career Training Centres” or “Manufacturing Centres”.
According to government statistics, 1,100 inmates died in the camps between May 2004 and August 2014.
“These deaths are mainly because of the weather, diet, lifestyle and accidents,” Kyaw Kyaw Tun said.
According to several reports by Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, most of the labour camps do not have a prison hospital or clinic, and at least 12 do not have a prison doctor. According to government figures there are over 10,000 inmates serving in the 46 centres, where convicted criminals serve the hard labour part of their sentences.