Myanmar activists decry killing of journalist in Mon state

Incident calls into question the government's commitment to embrace rule of law
Myanmar activists decry killing of journalist in Mon state

Activists gather in Yangon on Sunday to protest the killing of journalist Aung Kyaw Naing in Mon state (Photo courtesy of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society)

Activists from dozens of civil society organizations on Sunday issued a group statement in Yangon condemning what they called the extrajudicial killing of a Myanmar journalist in Mon state.

Protesters gathered in front of Yangon City Hall to demand justice for the death of freelance journalist Aung Kyaw Naing, who was killed by Myanmar soldiers while in custody in Mon state in southern Myanmar.

“We call for establishing a commission that must be independent and transparent to investigate and to bring action against the perpetrators,” the activists said in the statement.

The Myanmar army last week admitted that Aung Kyaw Naing was shot and killed, allegedly after trying to seize a weapon from one of his guards and then attempting to escape.

Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society group, said the killing cast further doubt on the extent to which Myanmar had embraced democratic reform.

“Despite the country’s leaders’ pledge that it’s moving towards democracy and implementing the rule of law, there are ongoing human rights violations and people living in insecure conditions across the country,” said Ko Ko Gyi during the protest on Sunday.

A military statement admitting to the killing of Aung Kyaw Naing last week added that he had been buried in Shwe Wah Chaung village near the place where he was shot. The statement also alleged that he was not a journalist, but rather a member of the Klohtoobaw Karen Organization, the political wing of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army.

Aung Myo Min, executive director of the Yangon-based NGO Equality Myanmar, said Aung Kyaw Naing’s death was a crime regardless of whether he was a journalist or a rebel soldier, and it showed that torture and extrajudicial killings remain serious problems in the country.

“The government must investigate and reveal to the public where he was detained, why he was killed and then take action against those who killed him,” Aung Myo Min said.

“I have serious doubts about the facts in the army’s statement, and it is a legitimate question about why there is not a full report about his death and why the army did not return his body to his family,” he added.

Ma Thandar, the wife of the deceased, has filed a complaint at the police station in Kyeikmayaw township in Mon state, according to her lawyer Robert San Aung.

“Following on the investigations of the police over the death of [Aung Kyaw Naing], we will make an inquiry and fight for the case by legal means,” he told on Monday.

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