ABFSU member disappears into junta custody in Mandalay

Family members of an All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) member who was arrested in Mandalay Region on Monday have been unable to contact him or determine his whereabouts, they told Myanmar Now on Wednesday. 

ABFSU arts and sciences secretary Thet Tin Aung was detained near the town of Kume along with his friend Paing Soe as they traveled from Taungoo to Mandalay. 

“We don’t know exactly where he has been taken. I haven’t gotten any information, so I don’t know where to go to find him,” his mother said, adding that she hoped anyone with information about his location and condition would come forward or take steps to keep him safe. 

The 25-year-old is a resident of Taungoo, where he also led anti-coup protests. A warrant for his arrest was issued under Section 505a of the Penal Code on March 17, for incitement.

Since the warrant was issued, regime troops frequently came to his house in Taungoo, taking photos of the property and carrying out searches, according to his mother. 

Thet Tin Aung was charged in early 2020 with violating Section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law. The charges were in connection to his protests against human rights abuses including the government-imposed internet ban in Rakhine State and the shelling of a primary school there. He was detained in Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison.

ABFSU Chairperson Aung Pyae Sone Phyo said he feared for Thet Tin Aung’s and Paing Soe’s lives. 

“Since before the coup, he has opposed the military dictators,” Aung Pyae Sone Phyo said of Thet Tin Aung. “In the past, he opposed the authorities on issues in Rakhine, so he was imprisoned. I am worried that the military personnel have held a grudge against him.” 

Students, particularly those affiliated with the ABFSU, are among those who have been targeted by the junta’s brutality. 

University student Zin Ko Tun was arrested on May 12 in Myingyan, in Mandalay; the following day, the junta informed his family that he had died and asked them to retrieve his body. 

Three friends of former ABFSU chairperson Kyaw Ko Ko were arrested on April 6; their whereabouts remain unknown.  

In Bago, on March 28, the junta opened fire on attendees at the funeral of Thet Maung Maung, an ABFSU student member who was shot dead by the junta.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) announced on Wednesday that 827 civilians have been killed by the junta since the February 1 coup, but the actual number may be much higher. Among the dead are protesters who were shot during anti-coup demonstrations and detainees tortured to death during interrogation.  

According to the AAPP, at least 21 of the people known to have been killed were murdered in interrogation centers.


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