YANGON—The Myanmar military detained an administrative official and a local resident of Kyauktaw Twonship, in northern Rakhine, Wednesday afternoon, locals say.
Troops from the Myanmar military’s Light Infantry Division (LID) No. 55 detained U Aung Thein Kyaw, a village administrative official for the northern Rakhine village of Min Thar Taung, and U Kyan Thein Aung, a neighbor of his, without giving a reason for the detainment, they say.
On Wednesday morning, more than 100 soldiers with LID No. 55 and 99 surrounded Min Thar Taung villages despite a lack of armed conflict between the Arakan Army (AA) and the military in Min Thar Taung. The village is about 8 miles north of downtown Kyauktaw.
U Aung Thein Kyaw’s wife, Daw Oo Chan Nu, said that at that time the soldiers arrived, U Aung Thein Kyaw, 58, and U Kyan Thein Aung, 49, were on their way to pay a bank loan in downtown Kyauktaw.
Daw Oo Chan Nu said she cooked lunch for a LID No. 55 captain and some of his troops before her husband and his colleague returned, sometime in the afternoon. After a brief conversation, her husband was ordered to show soldiers the homes of three suspects who had previously been arrested.
“The reason for the arrest is still unexplained as of this evening,” she said.
According to social activist U Kyaw Hla Myint, those suspects, also from the village, were detained on May 21 and 22 while fishing and gathering forest products. On May 25, the military transported one of the detainees, U Kyaw Hlaing, to Kyauktaw hospital with severe injuries. U Kyaw Hlaing died the following day.
Min Thar Taung villagers say U Kyaw Hlaing was mentally ill and often wandered absent-mindedly around the village.
U Kyaw Hla Myint said the other suspects had cases opened on them under the Counter-Terrorism Law’s Sections 50 (j), which criminalizes financing terrorist groups, and 52 (a) which criminalizes associating with unlawful organizations. Both carrying heavy penalties if found guilty.
Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun, spokesman for the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that he had no information about the Wednesday arrest or the death of U Kyaw Hlaing on Sunday.
“I saw it (U Kyaw Hlaing’s death) in the news but haven’t received a report from the ground,” Zaw Min Tun said.
Daw Oo Chan Nu said that soldiers photographed the homes of three detained suspects and seized her husband’s mobile phone on Wednesday. At about 4 p.m., the troops returned to their regional
command with the two in custody. She said her husband was ordered to meet with a captain from Battalion No. 376.
On Thursday morning, she went to the Kyauktaw Police Station to inquire about her husband’s condition and said she was told he was still being held by the military.
“I am concerned about my husband’s safety because, you know, being detained by the military is not like being detained by the police,” she said. “I want him home as soon as possible.”
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