Tortured teashop owner loses hearing after more than four months in detention

The owner of a teashop in Mandalay Region’s Sintgaing Township has lost his hearing and some of his eyesight due to torture at the hands of his interrogators, according to a source close to his family.

Min Thu Tun, 32, was arrested at his teashop in the village of Ohn Pin Chan on July 6 on suspicion of involvement with anti-regime forces active in the area.

He is currently being held in Mandalay’s Obo Prison, where he faces charges of incitement under Section 505a of the Penal Code and illegal possession of weapons under Sections 5 and 6 of the Weapons Act.

His condition has greatly deteriorated since he was arrested together with his wife and five others, including his 12-year-old son and employees of his teashop, according to the family contact. 

“He has gone deaf and his eyes have also been badly injured. They said his eyesight is not very good. He got all those injuries from being tortured,” the source said, citing someone who saw Min Thu Tun at an in-prison court hearing in October.

The family was taken into custody following a clash between junta forces and local resistance fighters near Mandalay International Airport in the nearby town of Tada-U. One soldier was killed in the shootout and one member of the Sintgaing People’s Defence Force (PDF) was arrested. 

During a raid carried out after the clash, regime forces reportedly discovered explosives in a hut near Min Thu Tun’s Shwe Kyal Zin teashop.

Min Thu Tun, his wife Tin Nwe Hlaing, and three other suspects are still being held by the junta, but the couple’s son, Aung Swan Pyae, and one other boy have since been released after initially being charged with possessing explosives.

Tin Nwe Hlaing, 32, is also suffering from health problems, according to the family contact. 

“She has a stomach disease. The rice they serve in prison is of poor quality, causing her to have frequent stomach pains. It’s really worrying,” he said.

“Their child is being looked after by their relatives. It’s so sad to see a family being torn apart,” he added.

No details were available about the condition of the three other detainees, Sai, Htet Wai Yan, and Min Min Soe.

The next court hearing is expected to be held at a special court inside Obo Prison on November 19.

Myanmar Now attempted to contact the regime’s information officer and Sintgaing’s central police station for information regarding the cases against the detainees and their condition in custody, but did not receive a response.

Neither Min Thu Tun nor Tin Nwe Hlaing have received adequate treatment for their health issues, according to the source close to the family.

“They’re not guilty in the first place. I just want to request the military council to release them as soon as possible,” he said.

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