Myanmar Human Rights Body Investigates Deaths of Two Teens at Mandalay Youth Center

By Zarni Mann 7 August 2020

MANDALAY—The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) is investigating the deaths of two teenagers from the Mandalay Youth Center after their family members alleged that center authorities were involved.

MNHRC officials arrived at the center on Friday morning but journalists were not allowed to ask questions of the officials or center authorities nor to enter the center compound.

The two 17-year-olds, Pyae Phyo Maung and Khaing Zaw Tun, were from Monywa Township and were sentenced along with three other youth to two years in prison over a robbery case from 2018. Because they were under 18 years old, they were sent to Mandalay Youth Center on July 26.

According to the center’s authorities and the teenagers’ parents, all five of them tried to run away from the center during lunchtime on July 31 and were then beaten up by the other youth at the center.

Pyae Phyo Maung died on Wednesday and Khaing Zaw Tun died the next day. According to their parents, their bodies were bruised and injured, mainly to their heads.

“The center told us to come to Mandalay and said that my son had drowned and died,” said Daw Myo Myo Htwe, mother of Pyae Phyo Maung. “We are not allowed to bring the body back or bury it. The school authorities there said they must cremate the body and did it regardless.”

The parents of the deceased youth said the center told them their sons were being beaten up by the other youth after the two were caught running away from the center.

Khaing Zaw Tun’s parents said they were given little information about what happened to their son after he was admitted to Mandalay General Hospital.

“When we heard about Pyae Phyo Maung, we worried about our son so we also went to Mandalay,” Daw Khin Cho Oo, mother of Khaing Zaw Tun told The Irrawaddy. “The center gave no information but just said our son was hospitalized. He died the next day.”

According Khaing Zaw Tun’s parents, the doctors at the hospital explained that their son had suffered brain injuries, a broken neck and one broken rib, which had pierced his lungs.

The head of the center, U Nay Aung Kyaw, met with journalists on Thursday and admitted that the youth were beaten up by others at the center after they were caught and brough back. He said that the three other youth who attempted to run away and survived are in good health.

However, the head of the center refused to provide further information on Friday, saying the incident is under investigation.

According to one local source, police filed a complaint at police station No. 2 in Mandalay and are also investigating the incident.

Both teenagers’ parents said they will file complaints with the police after they receive the medical treatment records and the notes of the forensic doctors on Aug. 26.

“My son said, before he died, that he could not live in the center because they were being beaten up sometimes, so when some of their friends said to run on that day, he followed his friends,” Daw Khin Cho Oo added. “When they were caught and brought back, the teachers there and other older youth beat them with canes and pipes.”

“The center should be a place to retrain the youth to be good people, not a place to allow youth to fight each other and beat one another to death,” she added.

Three other youth who ran away from the center at the same time are now receiving medical attention. One of them, Htet Lin Chit, age 15, is still receiving treatment at Mandalay General Hospital.

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