Friends of activist in hiding disappear into junta custody

Three friends of a former All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU) chair were arrested by a group of men believed to be plainclothes junta officials from a Naypyitaw checkpoint on Tuesday, and three days later, they are still missing.

Kyaw Ko Ko, the former ABFSU chair, has been in hiding since a warrant was issued for his arrest in mid-March. He told Myanmar Now that those detained were his girlfriend, Su Zarli Shein, and two of her friends, Myo Myint Tun and Ngwar Ja, who were traveling with her at the time.

When they disappeared, the three were traveling by bus from Yangon to Loikaw, Kayah State, a trip related to Su Zarli Shein’s role as a sales executive for the Say Paing Construction company. 

They left Yangon on April 5, stayed one night in Taungoo due to the junta-imposed 8pm curfew, and continued onward toward Loikaw on April 6. Their vehicle was stopped at the Thar Wut Hti checkpoint, and they were taken off the bus by the men in plainclothes, according to Myo Myint Tun’s older brother.  

Kyaw Ko Ko said that he believes he was the junta’s target, and that Su Zarli Shein and her friends were taken because he has managed to evade arrest. 

“They arrested her because they couldn’t find me and arrest me,” he said. “They haven’t announced which law she has been charged under. I don’t know where they have detained her. I have to assume that she is being interrogated.”

Also a member of the General Strike Committee (GSC), Kyaw Ko Ko was initially arrested during a crackdown by the armed forces on a protest in Yangon’s Tamwe township on March 3. 

Due to a heart condition, he was put by troops into a regime ambulance, but fellow students managed to grab him out of the back of the vehicle and help him escape. He has been in hiding ever since. 

Kyaw Ko Ko added that he had not been able to contact Su Zarli Shein or her friends since their arrest.

Myo Myint Tun’s older brother told Myanmar Now that he spoke to his younger brother on the phone immediately after he was detained, but also has not been able to reach him since. Myo Myint Tun reportedly told his brother that men had approached them and requested to “ask a few questions,” before taking them into custody. 

“We have been inquiring through some contacts in Pyinmana [in Naypyitaw]. But we still don’t know where they have been taken. We haven’t been able to contact them,” Myo Myint Tun’s older brother said. 

The military junta has increasingly been arresting family members, friends, and acquaintances of the anti-coup movement leaders and protesters when they have been unable to locate their intended targets. 

On April 5, regime forces in Bago Region detained six relatives of a National League for Democracy information official – who was in hiding to avoid arrest – including his four-year-old daughter and two-year-old nephew. 


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