Kachin Farmer Brang Yung Released, Recounts Torture in Military Custody

By Lawi Weng & Nyein Nyein 29 December 2015

RANGOON — Brang Yung, a Kachin refugee arrested by the Burma Army and sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment on spurious allegations of links to Kachin rebels, was set free on Monday nearly two months after his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in Naypyidaw.

Brang Yung, Laphai Gam and two other men were arrested in June 2012 by the Burma Army’s 37th Infantry Battalion while herding cattle outside the Shwe Zet refugee camp, accused of being high level operatives of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

The families of the Brang Yung and Laphai Gam claim they spent the following days subjected to brutal physical and sexual torture before signing confessions later used to convict the pair.

The other two men, also refugees from the renewed conflict between the KIA and the Burma Army, have already been released after completing shorter sentences. The 20-year sentence for Laphai Gam, 57, was upheld by the Supreme Court in October despite an appeal identical to Brang Yung, which argued that the Military Affairs Security (MAS) agency had no legal authority to obtain confessions for use in criminal proceedings.

Despite the Supreme Court overturning his convictions in October, 25-year-old Brang Yung remained in prison for two months, ostensibly because of a clerical error in court filings that printed one digit of his inmate number incorrectly.

After being detained for three years, the Supreme Court decided [Brang Yung] is innocent,” said Mar Khar, the Myitkina-based lawyer who represented Brang Yung and Laphai Gam. “The government should release Laphai Gam too. He is also innocent.”

On Monday, Brang Yung corroborated reports of his sexual torture alongside Laphai Gam while in the custody of MAS in 2012.

“They asked whether we have wives,” he told The Irrawaddy. “Then they took off our clothes and longyis and forced us to have sex with each other. Our hands and legs were cuffed. We could not do anything.”

Mar Khar told The Irrawaddy that the arbitrary detention and persecution of innocent civilians should be stopped and the government and military should offer assistance to those traumatized by torture.