‘My Sons Were Not Among These Who Committed That Murder’: Mother of Four Youths on Death Row

July 7th, 2021  •  Author:   Daw San San Aye (South Dagon Township)  •  5 minute read
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San San Aye of Myanmar’s Yangon region prays for her four sons on death row in Insein prison.


With all of her sons whom she relied on imprisoned, San Say Aye is struggling for her own survival.

San San Aye of Dagon township in Myanmar’s Yangon region has four sons on death row in Insein prison. They were among 18 people convicted by court-martial for the alleged killing on March 29 of Zaw Min, a pro-military resident. Junta-controlled media said Zaw Min was killed by knives and machetes by a group of 40 people from the same ward, and his body was thrown into a fire pit on the street on March 29. San San Aye insists her sons are innocent. With all of her sons whom she relied on imprisoned, she is struggling for her own survival and to visit her sons regularly in prison. She described to RFA’s Myanmar Service an ordeal shared by an increasing number of mothers in the Southeast Asian country since the Feb. 1 military coup:

Three cars arrived at our home on the first day after Burmese New Year. They asked for my kids. They asked if Khine Myae is home. Their father said he is. Then they entered the home. At that time, my younger son (Khine Myae) was combing his hair. They yelled, ‘Khine Myae. Come down here.’

My son said, ‘My name is not Khine Myae. It is Gold Fish.’ They said ‘Come down here. Gold Fish.’

My two other sons were asleep as they were assigned as night guards in the neighborhood. They asked them to come out. So two of them came out. They asked his name. My son said his name is Aung Myo Linn.

They said, ‘Raise your arms.’ Another one said, ‘Sir. Aung Myo Linn is not included.’ They said, ‘Raise your hands anyway. I know there is another one inside. Come out, or I’ll gun you down!’

San San Aye holds photos of two of her four sons on death row in Insein prison. Credit: RFA

Another son also came out. They asked, ‘What is your name.’ My son said his name is Soe Pyae Aung. They asked him to raise the hands the same way. They asked him to be still.

I was folding clothes at that time. I was terrified by them. They entered into my home. They asked, ‘Who is it?’ I said this is my oldest son. He is not very healthy. They asked his name. He said Htet Naung Linn.

They said, ‘Come down. Htet Naung Linn.’ Then, my son said, ‘I am Khine Myae who you are looking for.’ They said, ‘Come down.’

I thought they only wanted Khine Myae for interrogation. But they took all four sons in their car in handcuffs.

I asked why they arrested my sons. They said they have to interrogate them. I expected they would be released after interrogation. But that didn’t happen.

On May 24th, the military court at Insein prison gave them the death sentence.

San San Aye holds a photo of one of her four sons on death row in Insein prison. Credit: RFA

In the morning, the next day, I wondered why they gave them the death penalty. Article 505 does not carry a death sentence. I tried to inquire. The next day, I learned from the news that they had been charged with Article 302 for murder. They were given this sentence for a murder that occurred at Ward 56. They didn’t get a chance to defend or explain.

On the day when they said the murder occurred, all of my four sons were right in front of this home on security guard duty for the neighborhood.

I remember it was the day we made chicken and gourd fruit curry for my sons. When I heard about the murder in the street, I told all of my sons not to go there. The authorities had been shooting residents in the neighborhood. When everything calmed down at night, my sons went there to take a look.

As a parent, I am absolutely confident in saying that my sons were not among these who committed that murder.

San San Aye weeps when she discusses the plight of her sons on death row. Credit: RFA

My sons said that they will be home soon because they are not the ones who did the killing. They are not among the murderers.

They did go there to see what happened. They were involved in the protests. So I said they could be charged with Article 505(A) for their activities and they will be released soon. They told me, ‘Don’t worry, Mom. We will be back.’

This death sentence is totally unexpected. My sons didn’t murder anyone. I never heard of something like that. The first time I heard of someone getting a death sentence was when my own sons got it.

I don’t know what to say. This is totally unacceptable. This is not the way it’s supposed to be. My sons didn’t commit any murder. I want to appeal to the authorities that this sentence is not fair.

My sons have their entire future ahead of them. My sons are young adults with a promising future. But I can’t imagine what their future will be like after they are ruined by this death sentence.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Matthew Pennington. 

Original Post: RFA