Bail Granted to Shan Brothers Held over Attack on Myanmar Military Academy

By Lawi Weng 3 September 2019

Two ethnic Shan brothers arrested last month on suspicion of involvement in an attack by three ethnic armed groups on the Defense Services Technological Academy in Mandalay Region’s Pyin Oo Lwin Township were released from jail on Monday after posting bail, according to their family.

Sai Khun Mai was arrested on the evening of Aug. 17 and his brother Sai Lin Sink was taken for interrogation on Aug. 19. The men, both of whom work as volunteer schoolteachers at Kaw Dai Shan Community College in Kunhing Township in southern Shan State, are accused of communicating with the rebels who carried out the Aug. 15 attack. The military has opened cases against them under Article 17(a) of the Unlawful Association Act. Both were arrested by the Naypyitaw-based Military Security Affairs unit at their home in Pyin Oo Lwin.

Sai Saw Hla, the father of the two men, confirmed to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that his sons had been released on bail.

“Based on the article under which they were charged, they were both eligible for bail. Therefore, we asked at the court [to free them on bail]. They were released [on Monday],” Sai Saw Hla said.

Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) officials initially wanted to open cases against the two men under the Terrorism Act, according to their father, but after interrogating them decided to pursue cases under the Unlawful Association Act instead.

“They may have found nothing [incriminating] during the interrogation. So they changed the article,” Sai Saw Hla said, adding that the army seized communication devices including walkie-talkies from his sons.

The court said the two men will be summoned to appear at a later date, but did not specify when, he said.

Sai Saw Hla said he was pleased that his sons had been released on bail, as “it is better to fight for justice from outside jail.”

While the family is convinced the Myanmar Army arrested the wrong people, Sai Saw Hla said he had no desire to accuse anybody. “Somebody has a grudge against my family, and they blamed my two sons for the attack.”

Saying that “real gold isn’t afraid of fire,” he said the family is not afraid to fight for justice, as they know the two men have done nothing wrong.

Both men are very active in working for the Shan community, according to the Shan Youth Network.

In a statement released on Aug. 26, the network called for the two brothers to be released unconditionally and immediately, saying Myanmar’s laws prohibit detention of an individual for more than 24 hours without a court’s approval.

“Many in the Shan community know them well. They were not involved in this attack—we all know that. All they do is work for the Shan community,” said Sai Su, a spokesperson for the Shan Youth Network.

The family lives not far from the Defense Services Technological Academy and came to the attention of authorities due to their proximity to the scene of the attack, according to the network.

“Authorities on the ground are likely under a lot of pressure from the top to find out who was involved in the attack. But they didn’t have any suspects. This is why our two Shan teachers were arrested; someone may have [falsely] accused them. Therefore, we say they arrested the wrong people,” Sai Su said.