The Irrawaddy

Police Officers Promoted, Transferred Amid Reuters Arrest Scandal

NAYPYITAW — More than 50 police officers were promoted or transferred in a mass reshuffle this week in the wake of explosive court testimony accusing a brigadier general in the force of setting up two Reuters reporters for arrest in December.

Police sources said Home Affairs Minister Kyaw Swe presided over the promotion of five officers to brigadier general and at least 12 to colonel at a ceremony in Naypyitaw on Thursday. They said another 38 officers have been transferred without promotions.

“I have to move to Shan State as a police brigadier general. The officers promoted to brigadier generals are police Colonel Win Bo, police Colonel Zaw Tun Aung, police Colonel Soe Naing Oo and police Colonel Thet Wai,” Kachin State police chief Zaw Khin Aung, who was promoted to brigadier general himself, told The Irrawaddy.

“Since we were promoted, the junior officers will also be promoted to take over our positions,” he added.

Brig. Gen. Zaw Khin Aung was transferred from Naypyitaw to Kachin State in October 2017. His move coincided with the arrest of ACE hotel owner Phyo Ko Ko Tint San at the Naypyitaw International Airport for weapons possession, prompting speculation that the transfer was related.

Col. Htet Lwin will be transferred from Naypyitaw to Kachin State to replace Brig. Gen. Zaw Khin Aung. Col. Myo Swe will be transferred from Yangon to Naypyitaw to replace Col. Htet Lwin.

Brig. Gen. Win Bo will be transferred from Chin State to the No. 3 Security Police Command, while Brig. Gen. Zaw Tun Aung will move from the highway police force to the No.1 Security Police Command. Brig Gen. Soe Naing Oo will remain at the Criminal Investigation Department, and Brig. Gen. Thet Wai will stay with the aviation police force.

“I’m being promoted to police colonel and have to remain with the anti-human trafficking police force. Lieutenant Colonel Htoo Aung from the aviation police force and two others from the maritime police force are also being promoted to police colonel,” Col. Thet Naung told The Irrawaddy.

The promotions and transfers come less than a week after police Captain Moe Yan Naing told a court in Yangon that two detained Reuters journalists who helped expose the massacre of Rohingya villagers last year by soldiers and civilians in Rakhine State were set up on orders from his superior, Brigadier General Tin Ko Ko.

But the officers recently promoted and transferred have no known connections to the case, and Brig. Gen. Tin Ko Ko was not among them.

“There have been promotions and reshuffles like this inside the police force before and it’s not special. But it is important to put the right person in the right place,” said a retired police officer who now lives in Yangon.

“When transforming the police force to make it a trustworthy organization, there must be enough and effective police personnel at the ground level who always have to interact with the people,” he added.