Shan Group Urges Release of Brothers Held for Raid on Myanmar Military Academy

By Chit Min Tun 28 August 2019

YANGON—The Shan Youth Network has called for the immediate release of two ethnic Shan teachers detained by the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) on suspicion of involvement in the Aug. 15 attack by three ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) on the Defense Services Technological Academy in Mandalay Region’s Pyin Oo Lwin Township.

In a statement released on Aug. 26, the network called for the two brothers to be released unconditionally and immediately, saying Myanmar’s laws prohibit detention of an individual for more than 24 hours without a court’s approval.

The statement also criticized the lack of transparency surrounding the pair’s detention, and expressed concern that they will be forced to confess.

Brothers Sai Khun Mai and Sai Lin Sink, who are volunteer teachers at Kaw Dai Shan Community College in Kunhing Township in southern Shan State, were arrested at their home in Pyin Oo Lwin by the Naypyitaw-based Military Security Affairs unit.

Sai Khun Mai was arrested on the evening of Aug. 17 and his brother Sai Lin Sink was taken for interrogation on Aug. 19, according to their father Sai Saw Hla.

“They [the Military Security Affairs unit] said somebody had filed a complaint. They said they suspect my sons are connected with the attacks by those three [EAOs]. They asked if Sai Khun Mai has ties with those groups,” Sai Saw Hla told The Irrawaddy.

The three EAOs that launched the Aug. 15 attack are the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and Arakan Army (AA)

“I can guarantee that my sons have no ties to armed groups. And their teaching colleagues have also guaranteed that my sons have no ties to armed groups. If they are innocent, they should be released immediately,” Sai Saw Hla said.

The Military Security Affairs unit seized personal belongings from the two including four walkie-talkies and laptops, he said.

Sai Saw Hla and his family live in Phaung Taw village on the outskirts of Pyin Oo Lwin, and make a living by farming.

Sai Wan Hline Kham, an Upper House lawmaker from Lashio in northern Shan State, said he has known the two brothers since the by-election in November 2018, and was certain they would not be involved in insurgent attacks.

“The two are completely innocent. As I worked closely with them in the 2018 by-election, we know each other. I know they would not have anything to do with the insurgency, and I’m doing my best to secure their release,” he said.

Sai Khun Mai taught Shan literature, Burmese language, mathematics and political science from 2009 to 2018, while Sai Lin Sink taught Shan literature and English from 2012 until the time of his arrest, according to Kaw Dai Shan Community College.

Sai Bone Khaung, the community college’s founder, also called for the pair’s immediate release, saying they have no ties to any armed group.

“I know all the teachers at my school. The two have nothing to do with those three groups. They are innocent. They have nothing to do with military issues. If there is no evidence, they should be released,” Sai Bone Khaung told The Irrawaddy.

Sai Saw Hla said he heard his sons are being kept in police custody at Pyin Oo Lwin Central Police Station, and have been charged under Article 17(a) of the Unlawful Association Act.

A police officer at Pyin Oo Lwin Central Police Station told The Irrawaddy he could not comment on the case, as the investigation is being headed by the chief of the Peik Chin Myaung Police Station. The Irrawaddy was unable to contact the Peik Chin Myaung station.

The President’s Office said nine Myanmar Army soldiers, three police officers and three civilians were killed in joint attacks launched by the TNLA, MNDAA and AA on Aug. 15 in Pyin Oo Lwin and Shan State’s Naung Cho Township. A number of buildings were damaged in the attacks, and the financial damage totaled more than 280 million kyats (about US$185,000), it said.

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