Interview

Twin Brother of Young Protester Slain by Myanmar Security Forces Calls for Justice

By The Irrawaddy 2 March 2021

Yangon—On Sunday morning, a 23-year-old network engineer was shot dead by Myanmar security forces while taking part in a protest against the country’s military regime in Yangon’s Hledan. A live bullet pierced his chest.

Police used live ammunition as they attacked more than a thousand anti-military regime protesters gathering in Hledan. At least 20 people were killed in police crackdowns across the country.

Ko Ko Aung Htet Naing, the elder twin brother of the victim, Nyi Nyi Aung Htet Naing, talked to The Irrawaddy about the police shooting on protesters in Hledan on Sunday.

The Irrawaddy: Could you tell us what happened?

Ko Ko Aung Htet Naing: The one who was gunned down outside the school in Hledan was my twin brother. He was fatally shot outside the school. The bullet pierced his chest. He was 23.

The Irrawaddy: Did you two join the protests on other days before Sunday?

AHN: We took part in protests around four days a week together with our friends.

The Irrawaddy: Could you tell us what happened to you on Sunday?

AHN: We went together on Sunday. But I was away from him when the incident happened. We took Baho Road for fear that Insein Road might be blocked. We got out [from the car] under the overbridge [on Baho Road].  We didn’t notice that police were deployed on the overbridge. When we noticed them, we hurried to Hledan, but police were also deployed near Hledan market and we got trapped between them.

At first, we hid in apartments nearby. But when they fired tear gas and stun grenades, we went out and staged a protest. While we were still trapped, around 1,000 people came out and protested. They [security forces] fired tear gas and stun grenades. They still didn’t use live bullets.

The protest leaders asked protesters to sit down to prevent havoc. As protesters sat down, they [security forces] fired their guns. Walls of the school and windows at the bus-stop were hit and about three or four people were hit at the same time. Everyone started to run, and it was difficult to pull out those who were hit. They also shot the people who came to rescue the injured. But protesters tried their best to pull out the wounded. They pulled them to alleys and treated them, or sent them to health care centers.

The Irrawaddy: How did you know your brother was shot?

AHN: My brother was down in front of the school. Some tried in vain to rescue him. I saw in a video file that a young man in a white shirt managed to rescue him. He took cover behind walls and rescued him. He was also shot and was slightly injured in his belly. [Police] even shot a civilian who was trying to rescue my brother.

My brother was then sent to a health care center in an ambulance. But he was already dead when he arrived at the center. I heard that he was sent to Yangon General Hospital.

The Irrawaddy: What is your view on the fatal shooting of protesters?

AHN: If there are harsher words than rude and unscrupulous, their actions deserve to be described with those words. They should not have done this. Protesters only wish to make their voices heard by the people, the military regime and the whole world. They should not shoot and kill the protesters, with excessive force and weapons. I strongly condemn it.

They didn’t notify [protesters] in advance before shooting nor give time for protesters to disperse. It is very unscrupulous of them to fire with live ammunition without notice.

The Irrawaddy: What else would you like to say about Sunday’s incident?

AHN: We want justice for all the people who were killed. We don’t want their lives to be sacrificed for nothing. There must be accountability and responsibility for the lives that were lost. And we want the international community to know what is happening in Myanmar.

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