Naypyitaw teacher dies in junta custody within one day of arrest

December 24th, 2021  •  Author:   U Hla Min Maung (Leway Township)  •  3 minute read
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Teachers hold up banners and placards during a protest against the military coup in Yangon on February 10 (EPA)

Select family members were only permitted to see the bruised face of Hla Min Maung, a 36-year-old middle school teacher, before being forced to immediately bury him 

By Myanmar Now

Family members of a teacher from Naypyitaw’s Lewe Township who was arrested on Monday were notified the following day that he had died in junta custody, they told Myanmar Now.

Hla Min Maung, 36, was arrested at a tea shop in Lewe for participating in the general strike in accordance with the Civil Disobedience Movement.

His father, Khin Maung Dwe, said that the township’s police chief had summoned the family at around noon on Tuesday and told them that Hla Min Maung had died due to underlying health issues.

“It breaks our hearts that an educated and civilised young man like him was killed overnight,” Khin Maung We told Myanmar Now on Wednesday.

“It would be different for us if he was put on trial and got convicted. He didn’t even get questioned, or a chance to defend himself. It is heartbreaking that he was killed, just like that, so quickly,” the father said.

A close friend of the victim’s family said that only three relatives were permitted to see Hla Min Maung’s body, and were only allowed to glimpse his face, which was reportedly bruised. They were not allowed to take any photographs.

The family was allowed to have a funeral in accordance with Islamic traditions at the Kwegyi cemetery on Tuesday evening, but attendance was restricted by the military.

Hla Min Maung had been a middle school teacher for eight years, specialising in Myanmar language and history. He had been working at a school in Matawtpin village.

His father, Khin Maung Dwe, is also a respected retired high school English teacher. Kyaw Myint Oo, an elected Upper House parliamentarian for Mandalay’s Constituency No. 11, is also a former teacher who taught Hla Min Maung chemistry and physics when he was in high school.

“He was such a quiet person and he came from a very educated family. [Junta soldiers] could have just done it in a civilised manner if they wanted to interrogate him,” Kyaw Myint Oo said. “They no longer value human life, not even as much as that of a chicken.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Hla Min Maung’s family still had not been told further details surrounding his cause of death.

Myanmar Now called the Lewe police station three times regarding Hla Min Maung’s death but all calls went unanswered.

Deaths during interrogations have become more frequent as the military council continues to accuse people of being affiliated with anti-junta groups and networks.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners released a statement on Thursday reporting that at least 1,362 civilians had died at the hands of the military council since the February 1 coup.

Burmese version.

Original Post: Myanmar Now