The Irrawaddy

4 Policemen Arrested Over Alleged Torture of Suspects in Irrawaddy Region

Policemen are detained at Labutta Police Station for alleged torture of suspects.

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region — Four policemen were arrested on Sunday over the alleged torture of two burglary suspects in a village in Irrawaddy Region’s Labutta Township.

The chief of the Poe Laung police station and other ranks allegedly tortured two burglary suspects against legal procedures during interrogation sessions, said a spokesperson of the Irrawaddy Region Police Force Police Lt-Col Khin Maung Latt.

“We have launched an internal investigation,” he said, adding that the investigation is being led by the chief of the Myaungmya District police force.

Police arrested Khing Maung Latt and Soe Myat Aung, who were suspected of stealing more than 40 million kyats (US$30,000) worth of goods from a house in the village of Daung Chaung in Labutta Township in January.

The four policemen from the Poe Laung police station were arrested and are currently being held in the Labutta police station after families of the two suspects filed a complaint.

Locals said the police held the two suspects for weeks without remand. The four policemen allegedly slapped the two suspects with their hands and shoes, burned their genitals with cigarettes, burned plastic rope and bottles, and hung them upside down with their hands handcuffed.

“In the first few days, we were held separately. They slapped me in my face with a slipper and hung me upside down for about five hours. They also ripped out my pubic hairs. On March 21, they burned [plastic] water bottles and dripped them on my genitals and thighs,” Soe Myat Aung told The Irrawaddy.

Khin Maung Latt then confessed to burglary because of the torture and lied and said he had buried the loot under his house. As police brought him to his house to recover the goods, he showed his injuries to his wife and village administrators so that the village knew about the torture, said U Zaw Yan, a member of the Myanmar Farmers Network, a group supporting local farmers.

The wife of Khin Maung Latt and the mother of Soe Myat Aung then filed a complaint with the Labutta District police force. Khin Maung Latt and Soe Myat Aung have been receiving medical treatment at Labutta Hospital since March 23.

“I can’t hold things with my hands now because of the torture. I even need my mother to feed me. Because they slapped me in my face, my jaw hurts if I speak for too long. I also have burns,” Soe Myat Aung told The Irrawaddy.

Khin Maung Latt also suffered similar injuries, plus he can’t hear out of his left ear, said U Zaw Yan.

“The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission said it would investigate the case within a few days,” he said.

In 2003, a couple in Pathein who were suspected of a theft, committed suicide following torture by police during their detention. The inspector who led the interrogation was sacked and imprisoned and four other policemen were demoted.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko