The Irrawaddy

Activists in Mandalay Protest Arrest of Police Officers Behind Corruption Claims

MANDALAY — Residents of Mandalay Region’s Kyaukse Township were joined by lawmakers and activists on Thursday in calling for the fair treatment of five police officers arrested earlier this month after exposing the release of an alleged timber trafficker and accusing their chief of corruption.

“We call for justice for these police officers who did their best to do the right thing for the rule of law in Kyaukse,” said Ko Ko Lwin, a member of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society.

“The lawmakers said they will raise their voices in accordance with the law in Parliament to call for justice for the detained police officers,” he told reporters after a meeting of concerned locals, lawmakers and the 88 Generation in Kyaukse.

“They also assured that they will make sure no one is harmed for helping the general administration and security institutions with the rule of law in the region and with the fight against corruption,” Ko Ko Lwin added.

On April 24, police Corporals Tun Tun Win, Zeyar Maung and two others seized a truck hauling illegal logs. But they said the township police chief scolded them for the bust and ordered them to release the logs’ alleged owner. The police report ultimately stated that police could not prove who owned the logs.

According to locals, however, the alleged owner — Moan Lar, also known as Aung Soe Moe — was well known for paying off police and government officials for protection.

In early May, the local office of the 88 Generation helped locals send the Ministry of Home Affairs a complaint asking that the corrupt police officers be prosecuted. The five officers who exposed the alleged owner’s release, including the four who made the original arrest and a fifth who recorded it, were arrested by township police soon afterward.

Moan Lar, the alleged owner, was rearrested on Wednesday afternoon.

On Monday, the 88 Generation sent another complaint to the Anti-Corruption Commission in Naypyitaw asking it to investigate the case and find justice for the arrested officers.

“Based on the case of police Captain Ko Moe Yan Naing in the trial of the two Reuters reporters, we do not have too much hope that the Ministry of Home Affairs will provide justice in this case,” said Ko Ko Lwin.

“However, we believe the incident in Kyaukse will ring the alarm and hopefully become an example for an anti-corruption movement in the police force,” he added.