Gazing into Sittwe prison

Sittwe prison

One of the curious things about flying into Sittwe, in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State, is that you tend to come in low and slow over the bay before wobbling across the fringes of the city and then down on to the tarmac.

The Sittwe prison sits right under the flight path. This image, snapped through the propellor in February 2013, gives a fair indication of the state of the prison, and its scale and surroundings.

In this day and age you can see the same from Google, but to my mind this angle puts the whole thing in human scale.

More generally, as Myanmar continues down its unsteady path towards greater democratisation, government responsiveness and popular participation, it strikes me that its mouldy gaols, some of which look like they have been neglected since before the British left, are likely to need serious reform, not least because of their role in disciplining generations of political activists.

For today, readers wanting more about life in Rakhine State right now will benefit from a piece just published by The Independent. It is a complicated, tragic, heart-breaking and confronting scene.

This is part of a series of micro-posts based on time in Myanmar, January-February 2013