Hnin Nwe | DMG
29 September, Paletwa 

Two men arrested by the Tatmadaw last week in Chin State have been charged under the Counter-Terrorism Law for alleged ties to the Arakan Army, according to the Paletwa Township police. 

The two accused have been identified as Ko Tun Lin Zaw, 29, from Paikthay Ward in Kyauktaw Township and his brother-in-law Ko Soe Kyaw Lin, 17. Ko Tun Lin Zaw currently lives in the town of Paletwa’s Myoma Ward after marrying a woman and settling there, according to family members of the detainees. 

The duo were arrested by military personnel near Laungkadu village while travelling to Seinsin village to construct a bridge on September 25, family members said.

Following interrogations, the two men were charged under the Counter-Terrorism Law as one of them confessed to having attended a military training conducted by the Arakan Army for three months, said Police Inspector Win Lwin, head of the Paletwa Township police station. 

One of the men “acknowledged that he attended a military training course at Arakan Army but said he ran away because he was too tired,” Police Inspector Win Lwin told DMG.  

“Another claimed to have accompanied him, so it can be said he has links to a terrorist group. The Tatmadaw transferred the accused to the police along with their testimonies, and we will proceed against them in accordance with the law. The judge will decide at the court as to whether they are guilty or not.” 

The two men appeared before the township court for the first time on September 29, family members said. 

“My son was allowed to see family members for a while,” said Daw Daung Ma Lay, the mother of Ko Soe Kyaw Lin. “I told my son to answer the questions asked by the judge. ... Police didn’t allow us to enter the court. We do not know who interrogated them. We weren’t told when the next hearing would be.” 

The Tatmadaw True News Information Team released a statement on September 27 saying military personnel had intercepted a suspicious motorboat travelling to the east bank of the Kaladan River from the side of Laungkadu village and arrested two men at about 1:30 p.m. on September 25. 

The military’s statement said the legal process is ongoing in accordance with the law as one of the suspects confessed to having attended a military training conducted by the Arakan Army. 

“The two accused have no links to the Arakan Army and they went to Seinsin village after seeking permission from an official from the township development committee,” said Ma Khin Khin Than, the wife of Ko Tun Lin Zaw. 

“They don’t have any links with the Arakan Army. They must have said that they confessed because they were beaten and interrogated. They sought permission in advance from an official from the township development committee and made a phone call to Battalion No. 289,” she added. 

On September 6, more than 60 porters in Paletwa Township were arrested by the Tatmadaw, which released them later that evening.  

Forty-one porters including some women returning from neighbouring Kyauktaw Township were also arrested by Tatmadaw troops and taken to Battalion No. 289 on September 9, where they were interrogated for about a day and released on September 11.  

Paletwa Township residents face difficulties travelling as most land routes and waterways have been blocked amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing hostilities between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army.

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