Burma

Myanmar Junta Takes Family Member as Old as 94 Hostage

By The Irrawaddy 5 October 2021

The 94-year-old mother of a former lawmaker from the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) in Mon State and the son of a wanted protest leader in Mandalay Region are among the latest family members of regime opponents to be detained by junta forces.

U Myo Win’s 94-year-old mother and his daughter were arrested on Saturday when junta troops failed to find the former NLD MP in Ye Township, Mon State. The mother was later released but the daughter remains in custody. Their detention followed the arrest and release by junta troops of U Myo Win’s wife earlier in the day. He has been in hiding since March to evade arrest, as the junta has targeted elected lawmakers and members of the NLD across the country with detention, torture and lawsuits.

On Monday, the MP wrote on his Facebook page that his mother was released after being detained, but his daughter was being kept in custody for interrogation.

The regime has adopted the tactic of arbitrarily arresting and detaining family and friends of activists, protesters and opposition members as hostages in order to force its wanted opponents to surrender.

More than 170 civilians including children are being held hostage by Myanmar’s military regime in place of wanted opponents, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). Of those who have been detained, only a few have been released.

Among the children held as hostages was Su Htet Wyne, the 5-year-old daughter of Ko Soe Htay, a protest leader in Mogoke, Mandalay Region. She was held for two weeks after being arrested together with her mother and sister on June 13 after junta troops failed to find her father at their home on the day.

A warrant has been issued for Ko Soe Htay on an incitement charge for organizing anti-regime protests.

While Su Htet Wyne was released, her mother and sister were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment each on incitement charges. Neither defended themselves against the charge, saying they don’t trust the judiciary under the junta.

Ko Soe Htay’s wife, elder daughter and son who were detained by the junta in place of him.

Ko Soe Htay told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that his older son, Ko Okkar Soe, 24, was again arrested at around 4 a.m. on Sept. 29 at his office in Mogoke, for using his delivery service business to earn extra income to support the jailed mother and sister, something that had become necessary as his father is also in hiding. Eight other young men employed at the office were also arrested.

Ko Soe Htay said the families of the detained young men have not yet been told the reasons for their arrests and have not been allowed to visit them.

“We heard they were tortured in military interrogation,” he said.

“As they can’t find me, they are arresting all my family members. It is what dictators do, how they bully civilians. There are other families who face a worse fate than us. Only when our revolution prevails will we be able to end such incidents,” the protest leader added. Currently, Ko Soe Htay and two remaining family members—his youngest daughter and younger son—are in hiding.

According to the AAPP’s most recent report, more than 8,700 people including elected leaders, politicians, protesters, student activists and striking civil servants have been arrested. Of them, 7,079 were still detained as of Monday, the AAPP stated in the report.


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