Villagers Lament ‘Honest Farmer’ Tortured to Death by Myanmar Junta

Farmer Myo Myint Than was in the wrong place at the wrong time Sunday, seen near a shop where an informant for the military junta was shot. Three hours later, his parents had to retrieve the badly beaten body of the latest of nearly two dozen people to die during interrogation by Myanmar securities since the Feb. 1 coup.

CCTV footage showed Myo Myint Than, 38, passing by the Yoon Yoon electronics shop in Taungtha Market in Mandalay, where two unidentified men had shot the owner Hnin Hnin, an open supporter of the junta, sources close to the slain farmer’s family told RFA.

Shortly after the shooting, about 60 regime soldiers came to Indae village to arrest him, the family friend said.

"He was a really honest farmer. He had no weapons. He was arrested in the village and beaten by the soldiers,” said the source.

“When his parents went to see him, the body was covered with a piece of cloth. Only the face was shown. It was badly beaten. They were not allowed to look at the lower part of the body,” added the family friend.

Myo Myint Than's body was buried by family members in Taungtha Cemetery in the presence of junta guards Monday evening, added the friend.

Some local residents said Hnin Hnin, the owner of the store, had survived the shooting and is being treated at Naypyidaw Military Hospital, but RFA has been unable still to confirm her condition.

A resident of Taungtha said Hnin Hnin had flown flags of the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in front of her shop during protests against the military, had joined pro-military protests and had threatened to hand over members of National League for Democracy (NLD to the junta.

“She had attended USDP organized events. She said ‘How many NLD members do you want? I could hand them over to the military. She had also provided supplies to the soldiers,” said the resident, who declined to be named.

Myanmar Now News yesterday said that Taungtha Township People’s Defense Forces, a local militia, had claimed responsibility for the shooting of the pro-junta female informer in. RFA tried to contact the Taungtha PDF by phone but the calls were not successful.

A local resident in Taungtha township said the whole village was saddened by the killing of a simple farmer.

"There might be young people who are in the resistance, but everybody is upset that a simple, honest farmer was killed without doing anything,” said the villager.

“We don’t want to live under a military dictatorship. There’s no difference between living under a dictator and being dead. We just have to revolt. "

According to Taungtha township residents, about 70 local villagers have been arrested under Section 505(a) of the Penal Code for inciting dissent against the military and are facing trial in prison.

Zaw Htun, also known as the Poet Khet Thi, was arrested by junta security forces in Sagaing region’s Shwebo township and sent for interrogation on May 9, after months of taking part in nationwide protests against Feb. 1 coup and calling for resistance to the regime through his poetry.

Less than 24 hours later, his family was informed of his death and told to collect his body at a hospital in the region’s largest city Monywa. His wife said that authorities informed her Zaw Htun had died from a health condition, but she found his body covered in bruises and missing its internal organs, leading her to believe he had been killed in custody.

The Thailand-based rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) says that since the Feb. 1 coup, at least 22 people have died during interrogations, with more than half having died within 24 hours after being arrested.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Paul Eckert.