Myanmar Junta Forces Beat Man to Death in Bago Region, Keep Body

By The Irrawaddy 7 May 2021

Ko Aung Myint Hlaing, a 32-year-old electrical engineer, was beaten to death by regime forces on Tuesday night shortly after being detained for questioning in Bago Region’s Pyay Township.

His family was refused permission to retrieve his body for a funeral.

The man’s family told The Irrawaddy that regime forces including plainclothes military men arrested him at around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday on suspicion of involvement in a bomb blast in front of a branch of military-owned Innwa Bank in Shwetaung in late April.

Junta forces raided the family’s home that night and arrested Ko Aung Myint Hlaing, despite not finding any of the materials they were looking for, including a hat and clothing the bomber reportedly wore and a motorbike they claimed was used in committing the crime.

The victim’s sister said that about an hour after his arrest the junta forces came back to the ward and searched two more houses.

“They warned all nearby residents in the ward to stay inside and turn off the lights, or else they would shoot. We heard someone yell, ‘Mom, I am dying! Mom, save me!’ Soon, the yelling stopped,” she said.

They believed the voice sounded like her brother’s. Neighbors who saw Ko Aung Myint Hlaing being beaten in front of another house in the ward confirmed that the voice was her brother’s.

Witnesses told the family they saw Ko Aung Myint Hlaing again after the forces returned. They said he was been badly beaten after trying to stop the troops from beating two other male residents, saying that neither he nor they had anything to do with the bomb blast.

“They said that as my brother talked back to them, he was badly beaten. They [the soldiers] said, ‘Are you trying to waste our time?” The soldiers even stuffed some clothing inside his mouth as he screamed during the beatings. They dragged him through the street after he appeared to have lost consciousness.”

The next day, the family was only allowed to see Ko Aung Myint Hlaing’s face for a few minutes after his body was placed inside a coffin at a military hospital in Shwe Taung Township. They were not allowed to take pictures or take the body in order to give him a funeral.

“Though only the head was visible, signs of brutal beatings were obvious on his face with bruises and wounds on his cheeks, throat and jaw. When I peeked at his chest, it had been stitched back together. I begged them to hand over the body for a funeral. But they forced us to leave, saying they would bury my brother and that the grave had already been dug,” the victim’s sister added.

The regime’s forces claimed he died after jumping off a moving military truck following his arrest.

Ko Aung Myint Hlaing, aka Ko Aung Khaing Myit, came back to his hometown Pyay to enter the Buddhist monkhood before the Thingyan holidays after his job in Yangon ended in the wake of the coup.

His sister said her brother was undergoing temporary ordination into the monkhood on the day of the Innwa Bank blast.

The family performed a memorial service for Ko Aung Myint Hlaing on Wednesday.

Around a dozen people have reportedly been tortured to death in military custody since the Feb. 1 coup including three National League for Democracy (NLD) members; as well as Ko Aung Paing Htwe, a youth who helped extinguish a fire in Shan State’s Taunggyi; Ko Tun Htet Aung, a 24-year-old forestry worker in Sagaing Region’s Monywa; and Marlar Win, a mother of three in Magway Region’s Pakokku.

More than 770 people have been killed by the junta’s forces since the Feb. 1 coup and at least 4,809 people have been arrested, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which tracks killings and detentions by the junta.

You may also like these stories:

Myanmar Junta to Try Senior NLD Member U Win Htein in Prison

Wife and Newborn Baby of Anti-Regime Activist Held as Hostages by Myanmar Junta

Myanmar Junta Forces Abduct Three NLD Members