Civil Servant on Strike Dies of Torture by Myanmar Security Forces

By The Irrawaddy 18 March 2021

A striking civil servant who joined the civil disobedience movement (CDM) in protest at the military regime has died of injuries sustained from torture and brutal beatings by soldiers and police while being detained in Sagaing Region’s Monywa.

Ko Tun Htet Aung, a 24-year-old forestry worker, was the youngest member of his family and was affectionately called “Phoe Nge” (little boy). He was arrested at around 11 AM on March 15 after he left home to join an anti-coup protest.

He died from internal bleeding in his head at 3:10 AM on Thursday at a Mandalay hospital, less than twelve hours after he was released from detention.

Before Ko Tun Htet Aung was released, security forces had kept him at Monywa General Hospital where he had not received proper medical treatment, according to his family. His family was also not allowed to visit or communicate with him.

His brother told The Irrawaddy that they were only allowed to send clothes and some food which was returned to them the next day without having been touched or eaten.

“Our mom begged them at least to allow us to talk with him over the phone to know his real condition. But we were not allowed to speak with him and were told that his condition was not bad and that he had only minor bruises,” the brother said.

But when the family received him back after they had signed a confession saying that he would return to his work after recovering, Ko Tun Htet Aung was unable to walk, his eyes were a bluey-purple color and he was conscious only for short periods before he passed away. The family transferred him to a Mandalay hospital for treatment.

When he was conscious in his hospital bed, Ko Tun Htet Aung spoke of the need to continue the fight against the junta, which has killed almost 220 people and detained over 2,100 since their Feb.1 coup.

“He told me, his big brother, that we have to have guns to battle against them. He said please allow me to fight back against them. I must fight them. They are so violent. They kneed me in the face and head.”

Ko Tun Htet Aung is the first CDM member to be killed by the military regime in Monywa, where ten people were previously shot dead in crackdowns on anti-coup protests.

“It hurts me so much to think that my young brother was brutally beaten and had to suffer in pain for two and a half days without treatment,” his brother said.

“We have lost hundreds in this revolution. I don’t want to see anyone else get killed, I only want to achieve our goal as we have enough martyrs already in this revolution.”

Two National League for Democracy members in Yangon have also died after being arrested and tortured by the security forces. Their families were only informed the following day when they were told to pick up their bodies for the funerals.

A number of other people have reportedly died after being tortured while detained, or have not received medical treatment after being shot and dragged away by soldiers and police.

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