Three Dead During Military Detention in N. Rakhine

By Moe Myint 24 April 2019

YANGON — The bodies of three men from northern Rakhine’s Mrauk-U Township, who had been arrested and detained by the Myanmar military, have turned up at Sittwe General Hospital in recent days, according to a member of the local parliament and other local sources.

Military spokesperson Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun from the Office of the Commander-in Chief confirmed they were part of a group of 27 people arrested by government troops in Mrauk-U Township’s Let Kar Village on April 10. They army accused them of having connections with AA. The arrests follow an AA attack on two Myanmar military artillery positions on April 9 in which the AA claims at least 20 Myanmar soldiers were killed.

The military spokesperson told The Irrawaddy Burmese edition on Wednesday that the three locals—Zaw Myo Tun, 25, Thein Tun Sein, 35, and Maung Than Nu, 41—died of heart attack, suicide and drug addiction withdrawal.

“The cases have been filed at the police station,” he added.

A staff member from Sittwe General Hospital confirmed that the bodies had been transported to the hospital in recent days. When The Irrawaddy’s Sittwe correspondent went to meet the hospital’s superintendent he refused to answer questions, saying he is not authorized to speak to the media.

On April 10, Myanmar’s military announced a list of 23 suspects who were being held for having connections with the AA. On Wednesday, the military spokesperson confirmed that a total of 27 people were arrested. A few days later unverified information circulated on Facebook claiming one of the detainees had been killed during interrogation.

Regional lawmaker U Tun Thar Sein of the Rakhine state parliament said that on hearing about the incident he informed state house speaker U San Kyaw Hla and called for an inquiry via the state’s border affairs minister Col. Phone Tint.

U Tun Thar Sein and the relatives of the dead had not yet seen their bodies as of Wednesday and had been given no explanation as to the cause of the death of their loved ones.

He said the border affairs minister Col. Phone Tint did not disclose information on the results of the postmortem examination of the bodies. The Irrawaddy was unable to reach the family members of the dead as most of them do not own phones.

U Tun Thar Sein said that following the news of the suspicious deaths while in detention, the family members of the 24 other detainees are now overwhelmingly concerned for the safety of those still in detention.

As of Wednesday, the military has not announced where the detainees are being held or whether they are in prisons or interrogation camps.