Soldiers detain anti-coup protest leader along with the family that sheltered him

Soldiers arrested a prominent protest leader in the southeastern coastal town of Dawei on Tuesday along with three members of the family living in the house where he was hiding, according to a fellow anti-coup activist. 

About 30 troops burst into the house at 6:30am and detained 22-year-old Htoo Myat Lwin, an organiser with the Coalition Strike Committee – Dawei. The soldiers also took Hla Pe, 50, along with his 28-year-old son Sai Ko Ko Tun and 18-year-old daughter La Pyae Pyae Tun. 

“The house was raided while they were sleeping,” said a member of the strike committee, requesting anonymity. “We heard that they surrounded the house before arresting the victims. The neighbours said that they could hear people being beaten and cursing.” 

“It was Htoo Myat Lwin that the military wanted but the hosts were also taken along with him,” he said, adding that a fifth person in the house, who suffers from a cognitive disability, was left behind by the soldiers. 

Htoo Myat Lwin is a student at Dawei University. Soldiers found out about his whereabouts after arresting and interrogating nine members of the strike committee in recent days; Htoo Myat Lwin is the tenth member to be arrested since November 25.

“The majority of Htoo Myat Lwin’s friends are in detention now,” the activist said. “He was also called from the phone numbers of his friends who were detained and asked where he was.” 

The soldiers took mobile phones, two computers, a motorcycle and books from the house. The strike committee member said the four detainees were taken to an interrogation center, but Myanmar Now was unable to verify this. 

Dawei is a stronghold of the anti-coup movement in Tanintharyi Region, where the junta has raided the houses of several National League for Democracy officials. The military has deployed armed troops at security checkpoints across the township, according to locals. 

The junta banned the use of motorbikes by two or men at the same time in Dawei and elsewhere in a bid to curb guerrilla forces’ hit-and-run attacks against soldiers. Locals said the ban is causing hardship to people who rely on the vehicles for their livelihoods. 

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