A relative of the 26-year-old victim says he was unarmed and struggling with an undiagnosed mental illness at the time of his murder in Ye Township
By Myanmar Now
Junta troops shot and killed a 26-year-old man in southeastern Myanmar’s Mon State this week, according to his relatives, who said that they were allowed only limited viewing of his body.
The victim was Ye Naing Oo, resident of Khawzar town in Ye Township who, according to his family, had recently been struggling with an undiagnosed mental illness. He left home on Wednesday morning and the family was notified at 7pm by police officials that he was dead, his sister Mi Cho Thet Oo told Myanmar Now.
She said that officers from the Khawzar police station told her that Ye Naing Oo was shot and killed after he tried to run from the military’s Chaung Taung checkpoint on the Ye River bridge, some 18 miles from his home.
“We are still not sure about what actually happened. We only know what we were told. My brother was not in his right mind, so it’s understandable that he tried to run. However, I told them that it was not necessary to kill him,” his sister said.
Mi Cho Thet Oo said that her brother’s mental state had deteriorated some six months earlier while he was in Thailand, where he had been working as a migrant labourer. He had only just returned to his hometown two days earlier.
On the day he was killed, he had ventured out saying that he wanted to buy betel nut, despite his family’s pleas to stay home.
Mi Cho Thet Oo said that eyewitnesses near the bridge told her that they saw Ye Naing Oo being beaten by soldiers at around 6pm and that they heard five gunshots soon after.
“The saddest part of this is that he was mentally ill and he was unarmed. He didn’t even have a motorcycle. He only had his phone and ID card on him. My brother’s death was not natural at all,” she said.
The family tried to collect Ye Naing Oo’s body from the Ye Township hospital on Thursday, but they were only permitted to see his face, not the rest of his body. His face was bruised and cut, Mi Cho Thet Oo said.
The family was forced to hold his funeral that same evening, under the watch of two police officers.
At the time of reporting, the junta authorities had not returned Ye Naing Oo’s phone or ID card to his family, his sister added.
The military council has not released a statement concerning Ye Naing Oo’s death, and Myanmar Now’s calls to the junta’s information officers went unanswered.
Ye Naing Oo is the second person reported to have been murdered by troops near the bridge checkpoint in recent days. Another man was shot and killed near the same location on September 20, according to both a report by the Mon News Agency and an anti-junta local resistance force. The Mon News Agency cited “police sources” who alleged that the man had thrown a grenade towards a security checkpoint at around 9pm near the bridge and was subsequently shot.
A spokesperson from the Ye People’s Defence Force (PDF) told Myanmar Now that the man was a civilian with no connection to the group.
The spokesperson said that the Ye PDF had in fact attacked that checkpoint on the day in question, but at around 3pm. He believed that the man killed by police hours later was a fishery worker at a nearby market, noting that workers there often travel across the bridge to reach the market site.
Myanmar Now was unable to independently verify the identity of the man shot dead by junta troops on September 20.
“He was not in his right mind but we didn’t think he’d have walked all the way to the bridge. It was really far from home. Not even a healthy person would be able to walk that far,” she said.
Original Post: Myanmar Now