Shan Party Demands Probe Into Police Custody Killing of Leader

By Kyaw Myo Tun 24 November 2014

RANGOON — The Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) has threatened to stage a protest next month if the Shan State government fails to investigate the death of Hopong Township SNDP vice chairman Sai Shwe, who was killed by police while in custody as the primary suspect in the murder of a fellow local politician.

Sai San Tun, vice chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Hopong Township’s Ming Pyin village tract, southern Shan State, was assassinated on June 5 by unidentified gunmen. The slain politician was reportedly helping farmers in a campaign to win back confiscated farmlands.

Hopong Township police went to Ming Pyin village tract on Sept. 12 to arrest Sai Shwe, who lived in the same village, Hparle, as the victim and was suspected of involvement in his killing. Last week, Sai Shwe was shot dead by police as he was allegedly attempting to escape custody.

A few days before he was murdered, Sai San Tun had filed a lawsuit against Sai Shwe for allegedly soliciting money to repair village roads and issue household registration cards, as well as misappropriating Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) SIM cards allotted for the village, according to locals.

The SNDP has sent complaints to President Thein Sein, the Union Election Commission (UEC) and the Shan State chief minister regarding the case.

“If the [Shan State] government does not provide any response, we’ll have to resort to protest, which is scheduled to take place next month,” said the SNDP’s Sao Yun Paing, who is in charge of the party’s southern Shan State operations.

The UEC on Wednesday instructed the Shan State government to investigate the case and notified the party of it, SNDP members said.

“It was shooting to kill rather than shooting to arrest. They [police] are not allowed to do so. Unless and until he [Sai Shwe] was found guilty by a court, he could not be pronounced the culprit. The fact that this institution [police]—which has been trumpeting that they are ready to help the people—kills ordinary people is totally unacceptable,” Sao Yun Paing said.

The SNDP plans to stage its protest in the state capital Taunggyi if the government fails to act.

Asked by The Irrawaddy, the Hopong Township police chief declined to comment on the case.