Locals plead: justice and accountability in torture case
June 11, 2012
HURFOM: The local community in Chaung Zone Township, Mon State, is asking the Mon State government to pursue fair judicial proceedings and accountability in the suspicious case of a young villager recently tortured after being accused of murder. Certain Mon community and religious leaders are emphasizing the government’s failure to clearly undertake an investigation or impose consequences for arbitrary torture committed by the police.
In mid-May, 24-year-old Thet Paing Soe, a resident of Kwan Yeik village in Chaung Zone Township, was arrested and accused of involvement in a fight that led to the murder of a local youth. During the interrogation at the police station, two police officers beat him severely. A source from Kwan Yeik village explained that Police Officer Kyaw Zwa Khaing and his partner treated Thet Paing Soe inhumanely by burning him with cigarettes, hitting his head and face, covering his head and driving him in circles on a motorbike to make him lightheaded, and tying his arms and wrists with rope during the interrogation.
Police had arrested Thet Paing Soe and 17 other young men because they were presumed to be involved in the murder. Later, police officials released nine people who were considered innocent, including victim Thet Paing Soe.
“He was detained for two days in a Chaung Zone police cell, but the police permitted him to go to Moulmein hospital on May 19. He was hit hard on his head several times, and I think the torture inflicted by police officers caused physical disabilities. Even now, he does not seem back to normal,” said a 35-year-old male villager and relative of the victim. “Many of us can prove that he was not involved in the fight and was unfairly treated by the police. We hope the local government investigates and punishes the officials who arbitrarily abused him.”
Dr. Aung Naing Oo, state representative of the All Mon Regions Democracy Party (AMDP) in Chaung Zone Township, confirmed that the brutality at the police station resulted in the young man being disabled: he can no longer move his arms or turn his the head. “It seems like the police severely beat him and treated him cruelly. He was able to tell me confidently that he was not involved in the murder case.”
“We will help him as much as we can to seek justice for the torture he endured. In looking at this case, the misuse of power created an unacceptable problem in the community and we need to ask the
State authority to propose appropriate consequences for those who committed these actions.”
It was reported that the parents of Thet Paing Soe are seeking protection and assistance from the AMDP in order to confront the state authority.
A 45-year-old Mon Buddhist Monk originally from Chaung Zone Township but currently living in Moulmein expressed his opinion of the case by saying, “I am very unhappy that the problem of victimization and misuse of power still persists in the local judicial system. People have suffered too many incidents like this one over the last 20 years and it is time to make it stop. For our society’s wellbeing, I would like to ask the State Government to investigate the whole case and decide on fair action regarding the police officers’ behavior and violations.”