Thailand's Most Notorious Prison, Bang Kwang, Otherwise Known As "Big Tiger" Or "The Bangkok Hilton"
Bangkok's Bang Kwang Prison has a reputation as one of the hardest jails on the planet, known for poor living conditions, gross human rights violations and violent abuse inflicted on prisoners at the hands of the guards. All prisoners are required to wear leg irons, having chains fastened to their ankles and welded in place. In the book "The Damage Done", former prisoner Warren Fellows describes how if you fail to pay the standard bribe to the prison blacksmith, he intentionally fastens the shackles far too tight, causing serious wounds and infection to the lower leg and ankle area.
The prison has earned the nickname of "Big Tiger", as Thai prisoners liken the jail to a "man eater", a place where men are chewed up and spit out. Prisoners tell stories of being starved, deprived of any meat, and given nothing but white rice. In the past it had been that Thai prisoners would be given more nutritious red rice (similar to brown rice), while foreign prisoners would only be given white rice. When foreign governments questioned this policy, labeling it as discrimination, the Thai authorities responded by giving all prisoners the less nutritious white rice.
Due to the lack of meat available for consumption inside the prison, inmates have been known to hunt and kill rats inside the prison walls, butchering them and trading them as if they were livestock. Warren Fellows describes this as being much like a butcher shop, with a rat drawn and quartered hanging on display for all to see. He said that many of the inmates would trade cigarettes for a side of rat, or a rat stew.
In his book, Fellows offers countless detailed accounts of the horrifying events that go on behind the walls of Bangkok's most feared prison, perhaps the most disturbing story was a tale of conjugal visits for prisoners in the prison barnyard. According to Fellows, prisoners would pay bribes to the guards in order to afford them some quality alone time with the pigs of the prison's farmyard.
Life inside the prison is unbearable, especially if you are not one of the few that are fortunate enough to have the financial means to purchase what little food and comforts that are allowed. Those who have no money to buy food and cigarettes, will end up working as virtual slaves for those prisoners who are slightly more fortunate. Due to the nature of corruption in Thailand, prison guards are easily bribed, and drug use is common among inmates.
Perhaps the most famous guest at the legendary Bangkok Hilton is the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was the subject of the Hollywood film "Lord Of War", staring Nicholas Cage. The film is based on the life of Viktor Bout, who was played in the movie by Cage.
Mr. Bout has since been extradited to America, where he says the conditions are even worse than they are in Bangkok. In a recent statement he said " It's like comparing a zoo and a mental hospital. In Thailand inmates are kept in cages in relatively fresh air and treated like animals. In the United States they are treated like highly dangerous lunatics. Total control of each movement. No sunlight, air or sky. Nothing of the kind."
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