Rakhine Court Frees Civilians, Says No Evidence in Terrorism Case

By Min Aung Khine 18 May 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine State—A local court in the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe released six residents of Kyauktan Village on Friday over lack of evidence after the six spent more than a year in prison on pending terrorism charges.

“As the plaintiff could not present any solid evidence against them, the Sittwe District Court released them without charging them,” said U Aung Naing Win, a lawyer for the defendants.

The Myanmar military opened cases against eight residents of Kyauktan under the Counterterrorism Law for alleged ties to the Arakan Army (AA) in May 2019. Two of them are under the age of 18 and their cases are being handled by the Sittwe Township juvenile court.

“My brother and others were released. It is said they were released because they are innocent. I am very happy that my brother was released, but we were quite miserable while he was detained for one year and 15 days,” Daw Khaing Moe Nwe, the elder sister of Ko Maung Maung Hlaing, one of the six who was released on Friday, told The Irrawaddy.

As they left the court on Friday, the six told reporters that they were tortured in detention.

Myanmar military troops arrived at Kyauktan Village in Rathedaung Township on April 30 last year and summoned all male residents above the age of 15. They then interrogated 275 people at the local school on suspicion of having ties to the AA.

Days later, while still in military detention, six of the locals were shot dead on May 2. According to the military, soldiers shot the detainees after they attempted to take the soldiers’ guns. Eight other detained residents of Kyauktan were wounded and two of them died later at the hospital.

Since the detention and shootings last year, residents of Kyauktan Village have fled their homes out of fear and gone to live with their relatives.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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