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Pegu shooting victims’ kin muzzled

Rangoon (Mizzima) – Pegu authorities have ordered the families of two youths shot dead by army captains not to speak to the press, a relative of a victim said.

They also tried to placate the families by offering one million Kyat in “compensation” to each but the they rejected the inducements, San Yi, 65, a grandmother of one of the victims, Aung Thu Hein, said yesterday.

A violent clash broke out between seven youths and a captain from Pegu-based Infantry Battalion 59 late on September 4. A group of officers then returned to the city to look for the youths and shot two of them, execution style, after more argument, witnesses said.

Aung Thu Hein, 23, and Soe Paing Zaw, 18, from Mya Street in Zaiganaing (South) Ward in Pegu, the capital of Pegu Division, died instantly.

A doctor at the hospital reportedly said Aung Thu Hein had died of six gunshot wounds, while Soe Paing Zaw had been shot four times.

The incident has shocked and angered the victims’ relatives and city residents.

“Tomorrow [Saturday] will be seven days from the day my grandson passed away. But, I’m still in shock and think that the incident happened yesterday,” San Yi said. “I’ve heard that some officers will visit to my house tomorrow. As for me, I don’t have the heart to talk about the case again.”

The youths were cremated under tight security by the army at Sinphyukwin cemetery in Pegu on Tuesday, and relatives were prevented from taking part in preparations for the funeral or taking the bodies from the hospital morgue.

Also, a lawyer and activists from Rangoon travelling to attend the funeral were stopped at a police checkpoint on Tuesday about 15 kilometres south of Pegu, and were detained until the ceremony was finished.

State-run newspapers carried reports about the case yesterday. The New Light of Myanmar reported that the clash was just a drunken brawl between some young soldiers and young civilians. It said politicians and foreign media were taking advantage of the fight for political gains by inciting riots and protests in Burma and reported that a lawsuit had been filed to against the officers.

The report stated flatly that a taxi motorcycle carrying an army officer to a security detail at Pegu railway station and another local officer on his way to the station after drinking beer hit a three-wheeled taxi motorcycle carrying seven young men at around 10 p.m. on September 4.

It claimed that the officers’ motorcycle toppled and that the “drunken” youths attacked them after the officers had apologised.

One of the officers fled the scene for the station, told security guards, then the officer and four of the station security detail returned when another brawl broke out on Mya Street. During the second clash, Soe Paing Zaw, “17”, and Aung Thu Hein, “21”, were shot dead by one of the four security guards, the newspaper said.

The report conflicts substantially with statements by witnesses, which has left residents in Pegu uneasy.

“At that time, I was walking in the street. The boys were playing guitars. Then, one of the soldiers shot into the group of youths. I could see it clearly. Other boys had to run away. But the newspaper said there was another conflict, that the boys were drunk and were juvenile delinquents, and that their parents and aunties couldn’t control them,” a resident who lives between Mya and Sein streets said, on condition of anonymity.

The state-run newspaper failed to mention the name of the criminal and his battalion, the lawsuit or whether other boys involved in the incident had been released, the resident complained.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 11 September 2010 03:38 )  

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