Myanmar army arrests cemetery worker after flowers are found on graves of student protesters

Members of the military arrested a staff member from the Aye Nyein Yar cemetery in Bago Region’s Pyay Township over the weekend after they reportedly discovered that flowers had been laid on the graves of two student protesters killed during a crackdown on demonstrations last year.

Cemetery security guard and caretaker Tun Tun was taken into junta custody on Sunday afternoon, a family friend said. 

“They took him saying they had some questions for him and he still hasn’t returned yet,” the individual told Myanmar Now on Monday. 

Tun Tun’s duties included watching over the crematorium and cleaning gravesites. 

The graves where the flowers were found belong to 19-year-old Htet Myat Aung and 20-year-old Phyo Wai Yan Kyaw, both of whom were killed one year ago on March 13.

Htet Myat Aung and Phyo Wai Yan Kyaw were shot in their chest when the military opened fire on a protest mob in Pyay’s Khayan Kone ward. They were buried side by side at the Aye Nyein Yar cemetery.

Myanmar Now was not able to contact Tun Tun’s family regarding his arrest. The township police department also did not return calls for comment. 

Graves of several protesters slain since the February 2021 coup have also been vandalised nationwide, including, recently, those belonging to nine activists buried in Sagaing Region’s Salingyi Township. Photographs and imagery on the graves were desecrated in the attacks.

Among those targeted in Salingyi was the grave of poet K Za Win, shot dead on March 3 last year in the Sagaing city of Monywa. 

Several young people organised a poetry reading session in his memory on the first anniversary of his death earlier this month. The nine graves including his were defaced two days later. 

Last year, members of the military also destroyed the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Bago where protesters shot dead in April by junta forces were buried.

More than 100 people were killed during crackdowns on protests nationwide on March 27, which is Armed Forces Day.

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