The junta’s top police officer, Than Hlaing, reportedly promised the lieutenant a promotion to coax him back to the office and then had him arrested
By Myanmar Now
A lieutenant from police intelligence who raised money to help officers defecting from the junta has been jailed for three years after he was lured into a trap by Myanmar’s chief of police and arrested late last year, a colleague of his has said.
Thant Zin Aung, 38, took medical leave following last year’s coup but was detained in late November after police chief Than Hlaing offered him a promotion and urged him to come back to work, the colleague said.
Than Hlaing is also the junta’s Deputy Minister of Home Affairs.
Thant Zin Aung worked in international affairs for the Mandalay Region arm of the police intelligence unit known as Special Branch. He was sentenced on January 31 for violating police rules, according to a relative of his.
“He was arrested for allegedly funding the PDF but they didn’t charge him with that due to inadequate evidence,” said the relative.
“But it was discovered from his Viber history that he raised some funds. He was asked if he was funding the PDF during his interrogation and he admitted that he was funding the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM),” she added.
After the coup, Thant Zin Aung took medical leave and went to stay in Yangon, but he returned to Mandalay after the offer from Than Hlaing and was detained at a Special Branch office, a friend told Myanmar Now.
The friend, another police officer who is taking part in the CDM, said Than Hlaing personally urged Thant Zin Aung to come back to work.
“Thant Zin Aung came to talk with me. He said he was one of the police lieutenants who had been chosen for promotion and he asked me if he should go. I told him it was a bad idea,” said the colleague.
“But the person who called him, police chief Than Hlaing, was his mentor. He didn’t think his mentor would do something like that. He had his car confiscated as soon as he arrived there,” he added.
Another friend of Thant Zin Aung, also a police officer who has joined the CDM, confirmed to Myanmar Now that the lieutenant was detained after being told he had received a promotion and was arrested when he went to the office.
The lieutenant was born in southern Myanmar’s Myeik Township and joined police intelligence in 2004 after graduating from university.
During the campaign for the 2020 general election, he ran into trouble with his superiors by wearing a facemask with depictions of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on it.
He was told he would be transferred to Chin State as a punishment, but that decision was later dropped and he was allowed to stay in the same role, according to The Standard Times Daily newspaper.
He took medical leave in February 2021 and went to live in Yangon, where he was building a house in Thanlyin Township, his relative said. “He was going to open a restaurant there. He had already gotten his licence,” she added.
After his arrest, he was kept at a jail in Chan Aye Tharzan Township in Mandalay for two months and is now being held at the city’s Obo Prison, according to the relative and the two colleagues.
Myanmar Now tried to contact Police Colonel Kyaw Thiha, a spokesperson for the Myanmar Police Force, for comment, but he did not answer several phone calls.
As of late November more than 6,000 police officers have defected to join the movement against the junta, according to figures from People’s Embrace, a group helping the defectors.
Thant Zin Aung’s relative said she believed the efforts of striking police will help bring about the junta’s downfall. “What they did was unforgivable,” she said, referring to his arrest. “We will see them again after the revolution. Their turns will certainly come.”
Original Post: Myanmar Now