Entire family goes into hiding as soldiers hunt man accused of fighting in PDF 

The military ransacked a man’s home in Mandalay Region last week, forcing him and his entire family to flee, the day after soldiers released him in exchange for money despite accusing him of  joining the local armed resistance.

Zin Lin Aung, 26, was arrested in his village of Htanaung Kone in Thaungtha Township on September 17 and interrogated for two days about whether he was a member of the anti-junta People’s Defence Force (PDF).

“Our family has been separated. My wife was pregnant and the baby was due soon. I hear she has given birth now but I still can’t contact her. I can’t even find the words to describe their cruelty,” he told Myanmar Now from hiding. 

He was detained at a school in Taungtha town where soldiers were stationed, he said.

Soldiers there asked him for personal information about each of his family members and whether he was involved with any resistance movements, he added. They also inspected his phone. 

The soldiers made him sit on his knees for long periods while blindfolded and only gave him rice that had gone bad to eat, he said. 

They also beat him with the butts of their rifles and yelled, “You’ve caused us so much trouble,” during the interrogation, he said.

At around 1:30pm on September 19, a junta official called his sister and asked for 1.6m kyat for his release.

The sister, who asked for her name to be withheld for security reasons, said the family felt they had no choice but to pay the money. 

A plain clothed soldier dropped her brother off in the countryside after they handed over the cash, she added.

“We agreed to pay the money because we were so desperate to get him back,” she said.

Zin Lin Aung did not sleep at his home and went to a friend’s house for the night as he feared the soldiers would return, he said.

The next day, junta soldiers came back to the house he shares with his parents and younger brother to look for him. They then ransacked the house and that of his sister and robbed them.

The troops stole two motorcycles worth 2.8m kyat and 700,000 kyat and took household registration papers. 

“They told my father that they would cause them trouble if he didn’t bring me to them the next day,” Zin Lin Aung said.

His parents, both 60, fled along with his younger brother and sister, he added.

As well as his wife and newborn baby, Zin Lin Aung is separated from his two-year-old daughter. 

His sister said she repeatedly asked for help from the junta-assigned administrator of Htanaung Kone regarding her brother’s case, but he refused every time.

The administrator, Khin Maung Win, told Myanmar Now he had not heard anything about Zin Lin Aung being involved with resistance forces and that the village had not seen any unrest such as assassinations, military raids, or bomb blasts. 

He also denied any knowledge of the 1.6m kyat demand for Zin Lin Aung’s release, saying he had heard only rumours. 

Zin Lin Aung strongly denies that he has been involved with the armed resistance to the coup regime. 

“I absolutely had no ties with the PDF but now that things have gotten this bad, I may have to contact them,” he said.

According to data released by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners on Thursday, 8,584 people have been arrested by the junta since the February 1 coup, and at least 1,146 civilians have been killed.  

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