Hnin Nwe | DMG
1 June, Minbya 

Police have opened a case against two residents of Mrauk-U district in under the Counter-Terrorism Law after the Tatmadaw detained them for nearly six months, family members of the men told DMG. 

The pair were transferred into police custody in May after being detained by the Tatmadaw for almost six months. 

On November 29 last year, the Tatmadaw detained U Sein Win Maung, 42, from Minbya Township and Ko Seik Phar Chay from Thabyaykan village in Mrauk-U Township. 

U Sein Win Maung earns his living by buying old mobile handsets, batteries and iron pieces in the villages. He was arrested by government soldiers near Tin Nyo hospital on his way to Thabyaykan village in Mrauk-U Township, according to his family members. 

On that day, the soldiers took U Sein Win Maung to the Linmwaytaung Pagoda hill in Mrauk-U Township, where he was allegedly beaten and interrogated. The next day, he was taken to the military detention centre in Sittwe by military helicopter, according to wife Daw Tin Win, who said her account was based on U Sein Win Maung’s recollection. 

U Sein Win Maung’s family members complained about his arrest to Mrauk-U police, but they responded that the Tatmadaw was responsible for his arrest. 

The family members eventually were able to make contact with U Sein Win Maung as the No.1 police station in Sittwe informed them after the Tatmadaw’s transfer of him to the police station in May. 

Daw Tin Win said: “The No. 1 police station of Sittwe phoned me. Upon arrival at the police station, I had no chance to talk with him in person. I had to see his situation via CCTV. He sustained injuries to his whole body due to being beaten.” 

Another man who was detained by the army along with U Sein Win Maung was Ko Seik Phar Chay from Thabyaykan village in Mrauk-U Township. He was arrested by the Tatmadaw while he was drinking water at a house at the entrance of the village on his way back to his village. 

On May 12, No. 1 Sittwe police station transferred the duo to Mrauk-U police station on suspicion of having links to the Arakan Army (AA). The police have filed a case against them under Section 50(j) of the Counter-Terrorism Law, according to family members.  

On May 19, the duo was remanded into custody at the Mrauk-U Township Court. On that day, they met their families. 

Currently, U Sein Win Maung is being detained at the Mrauk-U Police Station.  

“My husband is innocent. He earns his living honestly. The absence of the breadwinner makes the family life very difficult. His two sons face difficulty in pursuing their education. I would like to call for the soonest release of my husband,” Daw Tin Win added. 

DMG attempted to contact the spokespersons for the Tatmadaw to seek confirmation regarding the allegations made against military personnel, but their mobile phones were turned off. 

Prolonged military detention of the suspects without a court’s remand is not in conformity with the law and violates human rights, said U Zaw Zaw Min, a Higher Grade Pleader from the Arakan Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Association. 

“The arrest was not in accordance with the law. Under the Constitution, the police must seek permission from the judge when arresting the suspects to continue the trial. The military’s arrest of victims also violates human rights. Action should be taken against those who arrested the victims without abiding by the law,” he added. 

The Arakan Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Association also sent a complaint to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission to review the case and take action against those responsible for the arrests of the two men.  

U Sein Win Maung and U Seik Phar Chay appeared before the Mrauk-U Township Court on June 1 and the court set a date of June 15 for the next hearing, according to the family members of the detainees. 

DMG phoned the Mrauk-U police station to seek comment on the case, but was unable to connect with any police official.

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