RANGOON — Crowds gathered in downtown Rangoon on Sunday to demand a full investigation into the death of freelance reporter Aung Kyaw Naing, commonly known as Par Gyi, who was reportedly killed in custody of the Burma Army.
On Friday, news emerged that the Interim Myanmar Press Council had been notified by the military that Par Gyi had been abducted in Mon State on Sept. 30, interrogated and later killed, with the army claiming that he was affiliated with a Karen rebel group.
The military’s statement said that on Oct. 4, Par Gyi “tried to seize a gun from a guard and run away; then he was shot dead by the guard.”
His body was buried and his family was not notified.
Concerned citizens reacted quickly, gathering in front of Rangoon’s City Hall, some carrying placards reading, “Restore justice and security for citizens” and “Stop brutality.”
“Ko Par Gyi is a journalist, a politician and a citizen,” said Ko Ko Gyi, a prominent activist and leader of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society movement. “His death shows that we do not have protection of the law.”
Ko Ko Gyi added that the statement produced by the Burma Army was sent to the Press Council nearly one month after Par Gyi’s disappearance, suggesting that the government may have been concealing abuses and must provide answers to the public.
“This case shows that the army is clearly abusing human rights,” he said. “If they do not take action and reform, there will be a confrontation between the citizens and the army.”
Some protesters said that what happened to Par Gyi is not uncommon in conflict-affected ethnic areas, but that the case should be considered an alarm for citizens and an opportunity to demand justice.