Junta’s troops break into Meiktila home, arrest four people including protest leader

Four people, including a protest leader, were beaten and arrested by the junta’s armed forces in Meiktila, Mandalay Region on Monday night. 

Police and soldiers broke down the door of a house near Meiktila Myoma market at around 11pm. They assaulted and detained 28-year-old Aung Chit Ko, for whom there is an outstanding warrant for incitement under the penal code’s Section 505a, his uncle said. The troops also took two other men and one woman who were in the house into custody.

Aung Chit Ko’s uncle told Myanmar Now that he feared his nephew’s life was in danger, as it is believed he is being interrogated at the base of the military’s notorious Meiktila-based Light Infantry Division (LID) 99.

“His mother has been crying because she is afraid her son will die. The junta has recently committed some very inhumane acts, so she fears that they will only return her son to her as a dead body,” he said.

At the time of reporting, Aung Chit Ko’s family said they had been unable to communicate with him since his arrest. 

More than one month before he was arrested, soldiers raided a house where Aung Chit Ko and his mother had stayed in Ai village, in Meiktila’s Myinkan village tract. They narrowly escaped by climbing over a fence and fleeing the area, the uncle said.

Since then, Aung Chit Ko had been on the run. He had reportedly returned to Meiktila around one week before he was apprehended. 

“He came back and was involved in a protest on Martyrs’ Day,” his uncle said, referring to the July 19 commemoration. “From there, his whereabouts were traced and he was tracked down.”

As the military cracks down on protests across Mandalay, dissidents in Meiktila have resorted to guerrilla-like tactics in organising flash anti-coup demonstrations.

Aung Chit Ko’s uncle described the military’s February 1 coup as an “unjust seizure of power,” and said that it was painful to see the junta violently suppress protests.

“It’s even sadder when a family member is arrested like this,” he said. 

As a result of the junta’s night raids in Meiktila, protest leaders, activists and ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) parliamentarians have fled the township, according to residents. 

On April 28, 38-year-old NLD regional MP Lwin Maung Maung was arrested within hours of returning to his home in Meiktila Industrial Zone after a period in hiding. He has since been sentenced to three years in prison without a trial. 

Meiktila has a heavy military presence, with army and air force bases, and is a known stronghold of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party. However, the NLD won Meiktila’s parliamentary representation in the 2020 general election. 


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