Man Dies in Burmese Military Custody in Rakhine State

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

As civilians continue to be arrested by Burma Army troops in Rakhine State, locals are reporting abuse and deaths in military detainment.

Locals said that government forces arrested villagers from Kyauktaw and Mrauk U this week.

Aye Kyaw, a 37-year-old trishaw driver from Mrauk U, was taken in for questioning by the Burma Army on September 27. Aye Kyaw’s family learned that he had died in custody when the military transferred his body to the hospital one day later.

“His body was autopsied. I saw a wound on his head. His head was broken. His hands were tied with a rope,” a relative told NMG.

The family member said that Aye Kyaw was taken in for questioning while driving a passenger to Nahtin village.

“I heard that soldiers from LIB 377 [Light Infantry Battalion] had arrested him. So we went to inquire about him at LIB 377’s [camp],” the relative explained. “The soldiers told us that they hadn’t arrested him. On September 28, the hospital informed us that his body had arrived at the hospital.”

Aye Kyaw had a one-month-old child, the family member said.

Mrauk-U parliamentarian Tun Thar Sein described Aye Kyaw’s death as an extrajudicial killing by the military.

However, the Burma Army’s True News Information Team alleged that Aye Kyaw was an officer in the Arakan Army (AA) and killed himself while being interrogated.

“Aye Kyaw, a sergeant officer in the AA, stole a pistol from an officer of the investigation team on the morning of September 28, during breakfast. He then shot himself dead,” the military’s news team reported on September 29.

On September 27, relatives of two other men, 36-year-old Maung Pein Aung and 35-year-old Sein Tun Win of Kyauktaw Township’s Kyaukgusu village, reported that they had been arrested by a military column that entered the community.

They were reportedly interrogated in a monastery in the village.

At the time of reporting, Maung Pein Aung was still being detained by a battalion in Kyauktaw town, his relatives said.

“Soldiers also interrogated his family members after arresting him,” one of Maung Pein Aung’s relatives said. “Then a soldier searched the rice storage facility. The soldier said that he discovered a landmine there. The soldiers then took photo of the landmine. They arrested me, too. Later on, they released me,” he explained.

Villagers insist that Maung Pein Aung is a farmer with no ties to any armed organization, however, the Tatmadaw’s True News Information Team accused him of having connections to the AA.

“Soldiers discovered information that Maung Pein Aung, aged 36, and the son of Tun Aung, had contact with AA members,” the military’s information team reported. “Soldiers searched his house in front of the village headman. A homemade landmine, made with a five-by-three-inch plastic tube, was discovered in a rice storage facility. A homemade landmine trigger was also found in the rice storage facility.”

Family members of Maung Pein Aung said that they have reported his detainment to local parliamentarians.

A Burma Army column also arrested 10 villagers in Kyauktaw Township’s Theyet Tapin village on September 23. The headman and the community’s elders asked the soldiers to release the villagers, and they were sent home on September 24.