Burma Navy Unit #43 tortures 6 marine workers, killing 1 in Yebyu Township

August 23, 2017

On August 12th 2017, Burma Navy Unit #43 arrested and tortured six of eight marine workers, resulting in the death of one worker. The eight men were fishing for crab on an island near Mae Tan Taung village, Kywe Tone Nyi Ma village track, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division.

Two days earlier, while patrolling by boat on August 10th, a ten-household leader of Mae Tan Taung village found eight marine workers on Warr Island, nearby Mae Tan Taung village. Suspicious of their activity he reported his findings to the 100-household leader U Nyunt San, who in turn reported to Major Zaw Phyo Thu of Navy Unit #43. The navy unit went to the island that same night to investigate the eight marine workers.

Three days after we [first] arrived [on August 8th] to Mae Tan Taung Island [Warr Island], the Navy, the [village] secretary, and other prominent persons from the village came to investigate us. They found nothing as we had just come to collect crabs. They said we needed to report to the authorized persons and then they went back,” said U Aung Nyne, one of the arrested marine workers.

On that same day, August 10th, the eight marine workers reached out to the secretary of Mae Tan Taung village administration and submitted a report with their marine business licenses, recommendation documents [from local authorities], and their national ID cards. The village secretary U Min Zaw said he would report [about the marine workers] to the local navy unit so that the marine workers could return to their huts.

However, at midnight on August 11th, five soldiers from the Navy Unit #43 came to the hut of the marine workers and arrested six of the workers. U Thein Htike Aung, the leader of the marine workers, was beaten with a bamboo stick during the arrest.

They said: ‘We instructed you to do a report yesterday. Why didn’t you do as instructed? Don’t you respect us?’ And then they beat us with a bamboo stick. After that, they locked us up with leg cuffs and tortured us for one day and night,” said U Aung Nyne.

The leader of the marine workers U Thein Htike Aung was tortured to death by the evening of August 12th and the navy unit buried his body, according to the Kyaung Your village administrator U Myo Aung. The navy unit intimidated the workers saying they had to bury the truth and say that U Thein Htike Aung had drowned to death. The navy unit also threatened the five workers saying that they would be killed if they revealed the truth.

On August 13th, the five workers were sent back to their huts by a navy vehicle, according to the marine workers.

The navy soldiers forced us to lie, but the navy officer knows the truth. He called for the family members of the victim and ordered [his soldiers] to unearth the body,” said U Aung Nyne.

On August 15th the brother-in-law of U Thein Htike Aung and the Kyaung Your village administrator U Myo Aung went to the Mawrawaddy Navy Unit to unearth the body at 5 pm and his funeral was held on the same day after the post-mortem examination finished at 6:30 pm, according to the Kywe Tone Nyi Ma village administrator U Su Nge. The doctor and the legislative officials from the Kan Bauk Region were also present during the unearthing of the body, according to the administrator.

As soon as we reached the navy unit, the body was unearthed. The doctor conducted a post-mortem examination and told us the result. The person did not have a good heart and lungs. There was no bleeding in the brain,” said U Myo Aung.

The Ye City Police sent an official letter to the Ye General Hospital to ensure that the five remaining severely injured marine workers would receive treatment from the hospital and the Ye Police also sent the letter to the Yebyu Police in Tavoy District.

On August 17th, navy officials visited the five marine workers and supported them with 100,000 kyat (US $73.66) per person for medical treatment.

However, in order to reveal the truth, the five abused marine workers have filed a lawsuit against the navy soldiers at the Ye City Police Station.

The navy officials said the legal proceedings will go in accordance with military or civilian laws. I requested to them that we want to know what will happen and what decisions will be made during the trial and that we want transparency. The officials replied they will do as we have requested,” said a Kyaung Yaw villager.

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