MANDALAY—A tour company director who was mistaken for a thief was detained and beaten by police, said he will file a complaint with the EU office in Myanmar, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and the Lower House Committee for Rule of Law.
Ko Aung Soe Htike, director of Babylon Trekking and Camping Tour, was detained on Friday night by police from Ahlone Township Police Station after being mistaken for a thief who stole a mobile phone from Ahlone Township’s administration office.
While on the way to pick up his daughter from a tuition class on Friday evening, the police showed up, handcuffed him and took him to the police station without giving any reason for his arrest.
Ko Aung Soe Htike told The Irrawaddy that he was beaten up by police and thug-like men at the police station behind closed doors without ever being given the chance to ask questions about his detainment.
“I was not allowed to contact anyone or ask what is going on. About three men were there. They treated me like a criminal and beat me several times on my chest and back, and forced me to admit to theft,” said Ko Aung Soe Htike.
Ko Aung Soe Htike’s friends began the search for him after he didn’t turn up for an appointment they had with him on Friday evening. Only then was it discovered that he was detained in police custody.
Police mistook Ko Aung Soe Htike for a thief who was caught on CCTV stealing a mobile phone from an officer of Ahlone Township’s administration office. The CCTV footage shows a man with a similar appearance to Ko Aung Soe Htike.
“My friends arrived [at the police station] after a few hours and were shown the CCTV footage by the police. They confirmed the thief is not me and then the chief of the police station apologized and released me,” he said.
Ko Aung Soe Htike said he will file a complaint with the EU office in Myanmar, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and the Lower House Committee for Rule of Law, for what he suffered due to the polices officers’ mistake. Under an EU-led initiative, the Myanmar Police Force underwent training which involved human rights awareness from 2013 to 2015.
“I will send the complaint this week. There are many people like me who are arrested mistakenly, beaten up and forced to admit to a crime and they are helpless and have to spend time behind bars where their rights and dignity are abused,” said Ko Aung Soe Htike.
“I don’t know how the police station chief will deal with the men who beat me. I hope there will be no more cases like this in the future and that the human rights commission and the commission for rule of law will make sure of this,” he added.
News of the incident spread widely over social media over the weekend, with users condemning the actions of the police and urging the Yangon Divisional Police Chief to investigate the incident and take legal action against the police who beat the tour company director.
“Even if a suspect or culprit is arrested, the police must not beat them up like this. Such an action is shameful for every police officer and for the country so the responsible institution [the police force] needs to make sure there will be no such human rights abuses in the future,” said Daw Nwe Nwe Win, a lawmaker of Ahlone Township.
When contacted by The Irrawaddy, Ahlone Township police refused to comment on the incident.