Thursday, August 5

The death of Zaw Myat Lynn: Allegations of torture against opposition activist in Myanmar | Myanmar


Under cover of darkness, the soldiers arrived in front of a school building on the outskirts of Myanmar’s main city, Yangon. It was 1.30 am. The military began registering the Suu Vocational College, in the northwestern suburb of Shwe Pyi Thar. They moved quickly from room to room.

They had come to arrest Zaw myat lynn, a prominent community organizer and teacher. She was an activist for the National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. In November, the NLD won an overwhelming electoral victory. He was in power until last month, when the military abruptly ended the civilian rule.

Zaw Myat Lynn had been at the forefront of local protests against the coup. He shared graphic videos of soldiers beating and shooting peaceful protesters. In Facebook spoke in bold terms against Myanmar’s ruling junta. His armed enforcers were “terrorists” and “dogs,” he wrote, adding that “people should fight the army even if it costs us our lives.”

In his haunting final post, Zaw Myat Lynn a pro-democracy rally broadcast live close to the school. The locals tried to defend themselves from the nightly arrests by erecting barricades and making defenses with sandbags. “We must prepare to protect our people,” he said, adding that an unknown number of troops had been stationed nearby.

The defenses did not work. Soldiers discovered him on the school grounds, where he lived with his wife Phyu Phyu Win. They dragged him away. Zaw Myat Lynn was 46 years old. He taught Japanese at the university; the couple had two sons and a 10-year-old granddaughter. They put him on a truck and took him away. It was the early morning of Monday, March 8.

Twenty-four hours later, his wife was instructed to visit a military hospital in Mingarlardon Township in northern Yangon, according to Maung Saungkha, a family friend. There, they told him to identify a body. It was her husband. Authorities said he had to incinerate his remains as soon as he received the body.

They gave him an official post mortem “report”. He claimed that Zaw Myat Lynn had fallen nine meters (30 feet) onto a sharp metal fence while trying to escape from custody. This explained his injuries. It was only after collecting his remains two days later that he discovered another explanation. The horrific nature of his injuries supports the allegations that Zaw Myat Lynn had been savagely tortured.

Photographs of her body seen by The Guardian hint at her horrible final hours. It appears that boiling water or a chemical solution had been poured into his mouth. The tongue was melted, the teeth were missing. The skin on his face was peeling off. The body had been wrapped to hide more traumatic injuries.

These included a stab to the abdomen apparently made with a cross knife. The wound appears to have been inflicted while he was still alive and may have been the cause of death. Severe bruises can be seen on the sides of his body, which had been cut and stitched up.

“All participants in the civil disobedience movement are aware that they are in danger. Lynn knew the risks, ”said a fellow activist, connected with Myanmar’s clandestine national legislative committee, the CRPH, saying. “Many young people go out to protest and never return. We do not know if they are arrested or dead ”.

The activist added: “Lynn was attacked because he had a high profile. The aim of the military is to teach the rest of us a lesson, to say, ‘this is how you’ll end up.’ The strategy will not work. We are smarter. We have many social networks and ways of reaching the world that we didn’t have before. “

Protesters hold hands to keep watch during a night rally against the military coup in Yangon
Protesters hold hands to keep watch during a night rally against the military coup in Yangon Photograph: AFP / Getty Images

Zaw Myat Lynn was the second senior NLD aide to die as a result of alleged torture, according to Ba Myo Thein, a now-disbanded upper house MP. Days earlier, Khin Maung Latt, 58, the local NLD president in Yangon, also died in detention. A party leader said the footage showed he had a wound on the back of his head and bruises on his back.

Since the February 1 coup, the army has shot dead more than 80 people and arrested more than 2,100, amid demonstrations across the country and a general strike. Last week, he accused Aung San Suu Kyi of taking bribes worth $ 1.3 million (£ 934,000) in cash and gold. His attorney has dismissed the charges as a “joke.” But they carry a long prison sentence and represent an escalation in the regime’s attempts to silence her.

According to witnesses, the police had carried out previous operations in Zaw Myat Lynn Township, which is separated from central Yangon by the Hlaing River. On February 21, officers opened fire on unarmed protesters. “When a police vehicle entered the street, we tried to stop them. The police suddenly shot a man in the head and then left, ”said Myint Myat Thu, who saw the shooting.

Zaw Myat Lynn met Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in detention since the coup, and worked for his humanitarian foundation. In the months leading up to the coup, he assisted in the fight against Covid in Myanmar. “He was highly respected and known in the civil disobedience movement,” said a fellow activist, who declined to be named.

During the March 8 raid on Zaw Myat Lynn High School, three students and three local residents were arrested. Computers, vehicles, phones and money were confiscated at the school, according to Ko Min Wai, a volunteer teacher. The school has offered free training courses on computer science, language and mechanics to young people from Shwe Pyi Thar.

Photos from the funeral show Zaw Myat Lynn’s wife crying over an open casket, surrounded by mourners. “It is not possible,” said Ko Min Wai. “I can not stand this. How could they do this to an unarmed civilian? I was even crying after hearing about this shocking death. “


www.theguardian.com

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