Published on May 21, 2021
A local official of the Union Election Commission (UEC) in Magway Region was tortured to death by regime soldiers on Wednesday after returning from hiding to grow crops.
Khin Maung Kyi, 47, was among six who were detained in Taungdwingyi Township after informants reportedly told the military their whereabouts. The status of the five others is unknown.
He was the local UEC chair for the Pat Lal Gyi village tract, which was the site of regular anti-coup protests until last month, when soldiers arrived at three villages firing guns and forced residents to flee.
Khin Maung Kyi and around 3,000 others abandoned their homes during the raids. Many have fled into the surrounding forests where they have struggled to find food and have been sleeping rough.
“He was hiding somewhere far away,” said a resident of Si Thar Gyi, which is one of the three villages that was raided and also where Khin Maung Kyi lived.
“Now that the wind has come and it has started to rain, he came back because he depends on his crops. He wanted to see if he could grow crops again.”
He returned to the area last week and hid with the five others at his farm three miles from his village, but they were spotted by informants.
“They surrounded them at night, then arrested them in the morning when the light came,” the resident said.
Soldiers tied their hands behind their backs and brutally beat them before taking them to the Si Thar Gyi village monastery, locals said.
“He fell unconscious at the farm,” said another Si Thar Gyi villager. “U Khin Maung Kyi was carried as he was not able to walk. Soon after that he passed away.”
The military sent his body to the morgue at the township hospital at around 4pm and his family collected him on Thursday morning.
“When we looked at his body many areas were swollen from the beatings,” said someone who is close to Khin Maung Kyi’s family. “His ribs were broken. He had been punched in the eyes. It was very chilling to even look at his face. There was a wound where his stomach was stabbed with fire wood.”
He was cremated the same evening at the Si Thar Gyi cemetery. He was the father of three children.
The military’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Locals do not know where the other five people are being detained.
On April 9 the military raided the villages of Pat Lal Gyi, Pyit Chaung, and Si Thar Gyi. Soldiers fired guns, burned down 12 houses and ransacked other homes. They then set up bases at a school in Pat Lal Gyi, at the Si Thar Gyi monastery, and at the Pyin Chaung village high school.
Some residents returned after soldiers took loudspeakers to the edge of the forest to broadcast threats to those hiding there and ordered them to come back by 4pm on April 13.
Among those who came back, locals said 26 were arrested. Only elderly people, women and young children returned to the villages, said a resident of Pyin Chaung who is still in hiding. “The men do not dare to go back. All those who are above the age of 10 have fled,” the resident said.
Many of those still in hiding depend for food on the small plots of farmland they left behind.
“If we cannot grow crops in time, we will starve this year,” said another Si Thar Gyi resident. “Now we do not dare to go back into the village. We cannot sleep well day or night. We get soaked by the rain. Food is running out. We don’t have water and we’re thirsty.”
The military justified its February 1 power grab with unfounded claims of voter fraud in last year’s general election, which the National League for Democracy won in a massive landslide.
The UEC, which in the run up to the coup rejected the military’s calls for an investigation into vote rigging, quickly became a target once the regime took power.
The commission’s ousted president, Hla Thein, was detained during early morning raids on the day of the coup. The regime then rounded up lower level officials across the country and installed its own members on the commission. Many of those who have not been detained have gone into hiding.
Last month Tin Maung San, the UEC secretary for Pathein, was killed in regime custody. His family was told that he fell down a set of stairs. Local media reported that six of his ribs were broken and there were wounds and other injuries on his head.
Source – Soldiers torture local election official to death in Magway Region | Myanmar NOW (myanmar-now.org)