Police Open Investigation Into Journalist’s Killing, Wife Says

By Lawi Weng 27 October 2014

RANGOON — The wife of slain local journalist Aung Kyaw Naing said on Monday that police in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw town have accepted her complaint and agreed to open an investigation into her husband’s killing by the Burma Army.

“We only could open one complaint for a criminal charge at the moment, which is a murder case. They only let us file one first. But we will add three more crimes soon, which are arbitrary arrest, torture and hiding [evidence] the dead body,” Than Dar told The Irrawaddy.

She was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference in Rangoon about the fact that her organization, the Democracy and Peace Women Network, won a human rights award from the N-Peace Network in Bangkok on Friday.

Than Dar said she had requested authorities to hand over the body of her husband, but was told to wait.

“We told the police that we want to bring his body back as soon as possible and hold funeral rites according to our Buddhist religion. But the police told me that they will take a little more time for the investigation,” she said. “I feel that we cannot let them take more time—we all need to pressure them on this [issue].”

On Thursday, an aide to Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing sent a statement to the Interim Myanmar Press Council, saying that an unnamed Burma Army unit in Kyaikmayaw Township had shot dead 49-year-old freelance journalist Aung Kyaw Naing, also known as Par Gyi, on Oct. 4. Soldiers had buried his body at Shwe War Chong village, some 20 km from Kyaikmayaw.

The letter, which was not officially signed by the army, said the journalist had been arrested in Kyaikmayaw on Sept. 30 after he visited an area under the control of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA). The army alleged he had been a member of the rebel group and claimed he was shot as he tried to escape and grab a weapon from a guard.

Than Dar said she travelled from Rangoon to Kyaikmayaw over the weekend to file a complaint, but she was initially turned away and told to go to a police station in the Mon State capital Moulmein instead. When she then travelled to Moulmein, she received a call saying that Kyaikmayaw police would accept her complaint after all.

She said during her trip she was repeatedly stopped and questioned by police, soldiers and Special Branch police.

“They disturbed me during the whole trip. They came on the bus asked me the same questions again and again, and took photos,” she said, adding that she believed authorities had tried to intimidate her.

Earlier this month, Than Dar had already made several visits to Kyaikmayaw Police Station, the local army base of Light Infantry Battalion 208 and the army’s Southeastern Command in Moulmein, in order to inquire about her missing husband. But authorities sent her away and denied any knowledge of the case.

Than Dar, who has one daughter and two adopted children with Aung Kyaw Naing, dismissed the claims that her husband was a member of the DKBA, but added, “They should bring him to court if they found that he violated the law—they cannot just kill him.”

She called on both President Thein Sein and Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing to carry out a transparent public investigation into her husband’s killing and ensure that the soldiers responsible are punished.

“Both of them often say [people should] protect and respect the 2008 Constitution. I want to know how both of them will deal with a citizen who was brutally killed. I ask them to solve this fairly,” Than Dar said. “It’s not only me who is angry about this [killing]. Many people in the country are not happy about this.”

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said in a statement on Monday that the killing of the journalist “is a reprehensible demonstration of how the rights of the citizen in Burma are not respected and how intimidation and violence are used against them.”

The Thailand-based organization said, “The government must be open about what really happened to Par Gyi and we demand an investigation into not only his death but into all accounts of extrajudicial killings.”