Myanmar Police Refuse to Open Case into Civilian Killing

By The Irrawaddy 22 February 2021

Yangon — Myanmar’s police have refused to open a case for a Yangon resident who was shot dead on Saturday night by suspected police officers.

Following the military regime’s imposition of the 8pm-4am curfew, late-night arrests of civilians and civil servants participating in the civil disobedience movement are mounting. Since the release of over 23,000 prisoners on Feb. 12, in what is believed to be an attempt to create unrest, Yangon residents have formed nighttime vigilante groups.

Ko Tin Htut Hein, 30, of Shwe Pyithar Township was shot in the head while guarding his neighborhood on Saturday. He was reportedly shot by police in a civilian van while he asked why the vehicle was breaching the curfew.

Ko Tin Htut Hein’s widow said: “The police station told my father-in-law not to open a case. There is no law. We are being bullied. I want the truth. It is the life of a human, not a bird.”

Ko Tin Htut Hein’s father said the post-mortem report said the bullet penetrated through the occipital bone at the back of the head and exited from the right eye.

“When I told an officer I wanted to open a case, he said he would ask his superiors and went into another room. I was kept waiting for nearly an hour, then a police lieutenant asked me to come into the room,” he said on Sunday.

“He said neither side should be blamed for the incident and requested me not to open a case. He said the incident happened during the curfew and claimed the ward guards attacked the car with sticks and swords. I have asked the residents who were with my son and they said they just went out to see what was happening.”

Ko Tin Htut Hein’s widow. / The Irrawaddy

An eyewitness said the victim’s neighbors clashed with military sympathizers from the adjacent ward on Saturday over the security measures in Ko Tin Htut Hein’s neighborhood.

“When we made arrangements to protect our ward, they tried to stop us. They asked who ordered the security arrangements. They didn’t accept our response and became aggressive,” the witness said.

Police then allegedly arrived and three gunshots were heard around 10 minutes later when Ko Tin Htut Hein died.

“There were two to three men in [police uniform]. There was a customs vehicle and two armed soldiers,” said an eyewitness.

A Facebook video showed Ko Tin Htut Hein’s body and residents saying the van went into a police station in Hlawga on the outskirts of Yangon.

On Saturday, six civilians died in Yangon in violence believed to be related to the anti-regime movement. Four people were hit by two cars on Baynit Naung Road in Insein Township and a man had his throat slit at the Yuzana Garden City housing complex.

Police also arrested film director and actor Lu Min, who has criticized the military regime, at his house on Saturday evening. An arrest warrant was issued for him last week.

On Saturday afternoon, during a raid against government personnel taking part in the civil disobedience movement at a shipyard in Mandalay, police and soldiers fired live ammunition and rubber bullets at demonstrators protecting strikers from being forced back to work. Two people were killed and nearly 30 injured in the incident.

Ma Mya Thwet Thwet Khine, a 20-year-old student, was pronounced dead on Feb. 19 after she was hit by a live bullet in Naypyitaw on Feb. 10, when riot police quelled protesters. The police said the bullet found in Ma Mya Thwet Thwet Khine’s head differs from police crowd-control ammunition.

Twelve people, including two children killed in an arson attack on a remote village in Karen State’s Hpa-an Township and an ethnic Chin man who was killed in a road accident that involved a military truck, have died since the military seized power on Feb. 1.

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