Woman abducted by junta with 3-year-old son accused of ties to urban guerrilla forces

April 15th, 2022  •  Author:   Daw Thiri Wai and Mg Thant Hpone Waiyan  •  3 minute read
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Picture of Thiri Wai released by junta-controlled media. Thiri Wai and her three-year-old son, Thant Hpone Waiyan (Supplied)

Information obtained from the woman while in detention led to the arrest of resistance force members allegedly planning bombings during Thingyan, the Myanmar military claims

By Myanmar Now

Myanmar’s military council announced the arrest of 15 alleged members of anti-junta resistance forces in Yangon as well as the confiscation of several weapons in a statement published on Thursday.

The announcement claimed that the crackdown in Yangon was based on information provided by Thiri Wai, a 28-year-old woman who they said they had detained on April 5. Some 13 people were reportedly arrested hours after she provided the alleged testimony in junta custody, and two more people were detained on April 11, according to the junta.

Myanmar Now reported on Tuesday that Ma Wai—who is 35, according to a friend—was blindfolded and taken from her Insein Township home by troops on the morning of April 5. It was also her three-year-old son’s birthday, and he too was reportedly kidnapped by junta forces from his kindergarten that afternoon. They are still believed to be in military custody, and Myanmar Now remains unable to speak with her family.

The military council did not mention the abduction of the child in their Thursday statement.

The military identified the 15 detainees as members of the urban guerrilla forces known as Union Myanmar Civil Development (UMCD) and God of Death, and accused them of planning to perpetrate bombings in seven Yangon locations during the Thingyan water festival, which took place this week.

They claimed to have seized 12 guns, including nine handmade rifles, as well as improvised explosive devices and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Speaking to Myanmar Now anonymously, a UMCD officer confirmed that the group’s members had been arrested. He said that there were inaccuracies in the junta’s statement regarding the dates of the victims’ arrests and denied the allegation that they were planning bombings during Thingyan.

While he did not disclose further information on the detainees, he described Ma Wai as “a woman with guts of steel,” and speculated that she may have been forced to give the alleged statement to her captors in order to protect her son, Thant Hpone Waiyan.

“I think they’re torturing the child to extract information from her,” he said.

The officer added that her family members had been afraid to contact the military to inquire about her and her son’s well-being.

Myanmar Now called the kindergarten attended by Thant Hpone Waiyan in Ahlone Township to inquire about his abduction, but all calls went unanswered.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar declared that until April 29, they are accepting submissions of reported violations of child rights in Myanmar since the February 2021 coup to be considered for inclusion in a forthcoming report on the issue.

The shadow National Unity Government (NUG) announced that they had reported the three-year-old’s kidnapping by the military to the Special Rapporteur.

According to an April 8 report released by the NUG’s Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs, 132 minors have been killed by the Myanmar military during the post-coup period. Some 216 have been detained, of whom two have been handed death sentences by junta courts, the ministry said.

The administration called for justice for the crimes.

The military council has not responded to the allegations.

Burmese version.

Original Post: Myanmar Now