Detainees Die While In Custody In Northern Rakhine State

Family members are demanding their bodies back and want full medical examinations to determine the exact cause of their deaths.

By Network Media Group

April 26, 2019

Three villagers, among twenty-seven arrested in northern Rakhine State by the Burmese Army, have died while in custody. Family members weren’t been able to contact their loved ones until two-weeks after they were taken by the Burma Army from Let Kar village in Mrauk-U township.

Ko Zaw Myo Tun, 25, from Ying-Chaung village, in Kyauktaw township, was visiting his girlfriend when the military took him. His uncle, Soe Thein, said his nephew just completed seven-days of monk service in a Buddhist monastery before leaving home on April 8.

“I heard he was arrested on 10 April. Since then, we haven’t seen him. We just found out about his death after meeting the Rakhine State parliamentarian chairman today,” Soe Thein told NMG.

San Hla Kyaw, chairman for Rakhine State parliament, confirmed they died while locked up after he was told by Col Phone Tint, minister of Rakhine State Security Affairs.

Ko Zaw Myo Tun’s body hasn’t been returned to his family.

“We want to know what happened to him. If he is really dead, we want to get his body back. Everyone in our village knows he wasn’t a soldier in the Arakan Army (AA). He just left the monastery after seven days of monk service. We have evidence,” Soe Thein told NMG.

Soe Thein said that the young man always supported his parents by helping them with their problems.

“I don’t know how to explain his death to his mother,” Soe Thein said.

The arrests happened after AA attacked a police battalion and a temporary Burmese Army camp in Mrauk-U township on April 10. Several Burmese Army soldiers were killed in the attack that lasted for an entire night. AA also attacked Burmese Army re-enforcement near Let Kar.

Nineteen of those that were arrested are from Let Kar and eight are from other villages.

MP Tun Thar Sein and local villagers said none of the detainees were members of AA. All were wearing civilian clothing when picked up by the Army.

NMG attempted to confirm the deaths of detainees with Col Phone Tint but he didn’t respond.

Attempts were also made to reach Brigadier Gen Zaw Min Tun, associate general of Tatmadaw’s True News information team.

At press time, there was no information on the official website of the office of commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Army.

According to an article in the Irrawaddy, Brigadier Gen Zaw Min Tun said that one detainee died from a heart attack, another hung himself and the third was a drug addict and died from depression.

Family members are demanding their bodies back and want full medical examinations to determine the exact causes of their deaths.

Villagers in Let Kar want the Army to release of all the detainees.

Ko Zaw Tun, with Mrauk-U Emergency Need group, said innocent people shouldn’t be targeted. “I want to call for the end of the war. If a political solution can’t be found and they want to continue fighting I want both parties take steps to protect civilians. The government and Army need to take responsibility in order to avoid this kind of incidence from happening ever again.”