Gun-Brandishing Police Officer in Hpakant Detained, Facing Internal Investigation

By Nang Seng Nom 9 September 2016

A police officer who threatened local villagers in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township at gunpoint has been suspended and detained, pending an internal police investigation.

On Tuesday, at a meeting with locals of Hmaw Pon Village in Lone Khin Village Tract of Hpakant Township regarding the election of 100-household administrators, Police Lieutenant Soe Zaw Zaw took out and pointed his gun at the villagers during an argument.

A video file of the incident, in which he is heard threatening to shoot the villagers, went viral online, drawing extensive public criticism.

The police lieutenant later apologized to the villagers, who accepted his apology, said Lower House lawmaker U Tint Soe, who represents Hpakant Township. But the lawmaker considered the police officer’s behavior unacceptable and he called on the authorities to punish him for his misconduct.

“I found his behavior in the video terrible. So, I immediately asked the [Kachin State] chief minister to take legal action against him. Police Battalion 16 will now conduct an internal police investigation. He will be detained at Hpakant police station until Sept. 13,” U Tint Soe told The Irrawaddy.

“The reason for [officers] holding arms should be to protect the people, not to harass them. They must avoid abusing their power in an issue which is none of their business,” said U Tint Soe.

Police Battalion 16 is mainly responsible for providing security for jade mining businesses in the Hpakant area.

Dashi La Sai, a National League for Democracy lawmaker in the Kachin State parliament, said: “We have never heard of a police officer threatening [people] with a gun during a [local] election, although there are cases of police firing warning shots against illegal [jade] prospectors.”

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.