Teenage boy incarcerated in Insein Prison dies days before his release

A 16-year-old boy arrested by the junta one year ago was declared dead by the military in Yangon’s Insein Prison last week, just days before his scheduled release. 

Khant Thurein’s family was notified of his death on September 17 by junta authorities, who claimed that the teenager had died at an unspecified date of tuberculosis. They returned his body to his relatives with a warning that any cremation or funeral service would need to be held with discretion, a source familiar with the case said. 

If time served had been deducted from his sentence, Khant Thurein would have been released on Tuesday, three days later. 

“It’s so sad as he was just days away from his freedom,” the source said.

A September 24, 2021 report in a junta newspaper on Khant Thurein’s arrest disclosed his age as 16, and accused him of being a member of the Freedom Fighters Force of Mayangone Township. 

He was arrested in Mayangone’s first ward along with four other minors: Wai Yan Phyo, 17; Aung Ko Oo, 16; Thant Zin, 16; and Kyel Zin Hnin Wai, 14. 

The five were among nine youth accused of involvement in three assassinations and one targeted explosion in Mayangone and North Dagon townships between July and September 2021. 

Khant Thurein (bottom right) and other youth arrested by the junta, pictured in the September 24, 2021 issue of a junta-owned newspaper

The source who spoke to Myanmar Now said that the military had also filed an attempted murder charge against Khant Thurein in relation to an attack on Mayangone Township administrator Sein Thaung on September 11, 2021. 

While the conviction carried a prison sentence of up to 20 years, due to insufficient evidence, Khant Thurein was handed a one-year term by a Mayangone Township court. Instead of being sent to a juvenile detention centre because of his age, he was sent to Insein Prison. 

Prison authorities have not disclosed the date of Khant Thurein’s sentencing or whether he had been held in an interrogation centre prior to his transfer to Insein. 

It is not known where the other four teenagers arrested alongside Khant Thurein are being held, what charges were filed against them, or what sentences they are serving. 

Myanmar Now has been unable to contact Khant Thurein’s family members for comment. 

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which has been monitoring the arrests, claims to have information on more than 15,000 people detained by the junta since the February 2021 coup. The organisation confirmed that 2,000 have been killed after being arrested by the military. 

According to AAPP, 295 children were still in junta detention at the time of reporting. 

The military council has remained silent on the issue. 

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