Hnin Nwe | DMG
27 August, Kyauktaw

A man was shot dead Wednesday night in Kyauktaw Township, Arakan State, according to the deceased’s family members, who have accused Tatmadaw soldiers of killing him.

The man, identified as 30-year-old Ko Maung Naing Win, was a resident of Shanywa Ward in the town of Kyauktaw. On his way back from his sister’s house on August 26, he encountered security personnel and was shot dead at about 10 p.m., family members allege.

Security personnel then wrapped his body in a tarpaulin sheet and sent it to the Kyauktaw Hospital mortuary, said Daw Oo Than Wai, sister of the deceased.

“Our house doesn’t have a latrine. So he went out to use the bathroom and then he was gone. In the morning, when I searched for my brother, I found an umbrella and a pair of slippers only,” she told DMG. “Some people told me, ‘Security members killed your brother last night and took his body.’ There remained a bloody spot on the road. Afterward, when I had information about the arrival of a body at the mortuary, I found out it was my brother.”

Family members of Ko Maung Naing Win said they saw gunshot wounds to his head and back.

Members of the security forces also entered the residence of Daw Oo Than Wai, the deceased’s sister, on the night of his death.

“At a time when restrictions have been adopted not to go out and travel anywhere due to COVID-19, Tatmadaw members shot everywhere,” said Daw Oo Than Wai. “They raided houses and did many things. They did anything they wanted. Now we, the local people, are in fear of the disease as well as the military. Can we accept their acts?” 

The body of Ko Maung Naing Win is being kept at the Kyauktaw Hospital mortuary. Only after medical doctors have inspected it will the body be cremated, according to the family.

DMG contacted Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun and Maj-Gen Tun Tun Nyi from the Tatmadaw True News Information Team seeking comment on the case, but they could not be reached.

The Tatmadaw True News Information Team issued a press release on August 27 saying a military column on patrol along the Kyauktaw-Warkin village road fired warning shots after two men failed to heed calls for them to submit to questioning and instead fled the scene. 

Security personnel subsequently came upon a man who was found dead and in possession of a walkie-talkie, the statement said, adding that the body was handed over to local police the following morning. 

The Ministry of Health and Sports issued an order on August 26 saying that because the number COVID-19 cases is on the rise in Arakan State, residents from all 17 townships in the state must abide by stay-at-home orders.

“As now is a time of banning travel, the military should not conduct military movements in the town,” said Arakan State Hluttaw lawmaker U Maung Maung of Kyauktaw Township. “Now, all the people are in fear of COVID-19. Additionally, Arakan State is not included in the ceasefire programme, so the people don’t know when fighting might happen. That is why all the people are scared, not only of the military but also the disease.”

The military has extended its unilateral ceasefire until September 30, saying the move was intended to facilitate efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and honour its obligations under recent peace agreements, but the extension does not include Arakan State and Paletwa Township in Chin State.

Hostilities between the military and the Arakan Army have flared with regularity in western Myanmar since late 2018, with no appreciable decline in civilian casualties noted since the first cases of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak were reported in mid-August.

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