Military refuses to return body of murdered Mandalay protester to family 

Family members of a woman murdered by plainclothes junta forces at an anti-coup rally in Mandalay have not been allowed to retrieve her body and have heard news the military has already cremated her.

Thu Thu Zin, 25, was marching with the tenacious Mya Taung protest column when she was shot in the head in front of the eastern gate of Mahamuni pagoda at around 12pm on Tuesday. She died on the spot. 

Her relatives told Myanmar Now that they went to Mandalay Palace on Wednesday to ask members of the 910th Engineering Battalion (Field Section) for her body, but soldiers said it wasn’t there. 

The relatives later heard from junta officials who are familiar with the case that she had been cremated on Tuesday evening. 

“We should at least be able to cremate her properly,” said one relative. “It doesn’t matter whether we could bring her home or whether we had to go to them for her funeral. Now we’re just stuck here with no news about her.”

The family initially heard that Thu Thu Zin had been shot and detained, and only found out about her death when they saw a picture of her body on social media. 

Her parents, both in their 60s, do not yet know she was killed and believe she is still in custody, a close friend of the family told Myanmar Now. 

“We still haven’t told her mother about it. I don’t think her heart can take it,” the friend said. “Just the news of her arrest alone made her cry so hard that she had a mental breakdown.”

Thu Thu Zin, who worked for a cosmetics company, was known for her active role in several charitable projects and had recently spent time queuing for oxygen to help people suffering from Covid-19, her friends said. 

She was a supporter of the National League for Democracy and regularly took part in anti-coup protests in Mandalay.

“She hasn’t been home for a week now,” another family member said. “Her parents believed she was volunteering and queuing for oxygen. She didn’t tell her parents about her involvement in the protests so as not to worry them.”

Even though they have been unable to retrieve her body, relatives will observe funeral rites by offering a meal to monks in her honour on Thursday. 

A young woman who took part in the Mya Taung protest on Tuesday said that at least three other people were shot and detained. One of them, 20-year-old Toe Toe Aung, was severely injured in his thigh after being shot twice, she said.

“The wounds were really severe,” she said. “We still haven’t heard anything about him yet as we had to run for our lives.” 

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