Burma

Student Activist Dies in Myanmar Junta Custody

By The Irrawaddy 29 December 2021

A student activist has died in Myanmar military custody, and the junta cremated his body without informing his relatives. 

Ko Aung Bone Kyaw, a third year geology student at Yangon University, was detained on Sunday in Yangon’s Tamwe Township. He was taken to an interrogation center where he died the following day, according to the Yangon University Students Union. He was cremated at Yayway Cemetery the same day

“The military council didn’t inform [his family about the funeral]. His family found out from their contacts only just before the funeral. They rushed to Yayway, but were unable to see the body before it was cremated,” said Ko Aung Kaung Hset, the chair of the Yangon University Students Union. 

Ko Aung Bone Kyaw’s family declined to comment out of concerns for their safety when contacted by The Irrawaddy.

“We heard that three other students were arrested along with Ko Aung Bone Kyaw. One of his classmates is now at the interrogation center,” said Ko Aung Kaung Hset. 

It remains unclear why the students were arrested and how Ko Aung Bone Kyaw died. 

Yangon Unversity’s Geology Department issued a letter of condolence over Ko Aung Bone Kyaw’s death, in which lecturers and students vowed to fight the dictatorship until the end. 

His death in custody follows the jailing a few days ago of an executive member of the Yangon University Students Union. Ko Aung Phone Maw was sentenced to three years in prison by a junta court for incitement. 

“The military regime is harshly persecuting young political activists who oppose military rule. Student union members held in Insein Prison are subject to solitary confinement and torture. Those who were beaten for their participation in protests were denied medical treatment,” said Yangon University Students Union chair Ko Aung Kaung Hset. 

Political prisoners in Yangon’s Insein Prison joined the rest of the country in a silent strike on December 10 to mark International Human Rights Day. The Myanmar people stayed at home for the day to show their opposition to military rule.

Around 89 political prisoners and detainees, including members of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, were beaten and held in isolation for participating in the silent strike. Those injured have yet to receive medical treatment.

On December 19, freelance photojournalist Ko Zaw Lin Htut, and Ma Su Yee Lin from Yangon Eastern University Students Union were detained at a Yangon protest. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

1,380 people were killed by the junta between February 1 and December 28, according to rights group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.


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