Human Rights Body Investigating Man's Death in Yangon Police Custody

By Htun Htun 23 November 2018

YANGON — Myanmar’s National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday launched an investigation into the death of a man who was allegedly beaten by Yangon police while being interrogated.

Ko Aung Aung, 28, a taxi driver, was arrested by Thanlyin Township police on the evening of Sept. 12 along with two suspected thieves. According to local media, the two suspects told police that they hired Ko Aung Aung for a ride and that the taxi driver had nothing to do with the theft.

Ko Aung Aung died on Sept. 26, after the trial. His family then filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission, believing he was tortured by police and died from his injuries.

U Phone Kywe, who is heading the investigation, said commission members have since met with the family, people who had contact with Ko Aung Aung during his detention, and the doctor who performed the post-mortem. He said they also intended to question police and the suspected thieves, who are being held at Insein Prison.

U Phone Kywe said the commission has also received other complaints accusing police of abusing detained suspects.

Recently in Ahlon Township, a tour operator detained as a suspected thief said police beat him in custody. Police apologized to the man after his allegations spread on social media and have launched an internal investigation of the accused officers.

In another case, a man suspected of stealing a fishing net died while in the custody of police in Dedaye Township, Irrawaddy Region. The National Human Rights Commission launched an investigation and on Aug. 1 sent a report to the Home Affairs Ministry, which oversees the police force, recommending that action be taken against the inspector and police officers involved.

“Police have a police manual and procedures. If they followed the law, there would be fewer extrajudicial cases. Unnecessary things happen because they are poorly followed. We need to find answers instead of placing blame. It is important that all police know and follow the police manual,” said U Phone Kywe.

He said the commission would also speed up the education programs it runs that teach police and soldiers about human rights laws and rules.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.