The Myanmar Military Has Been Killing Off Opposition Officials One By One Since The Coup

Since the February 2021 coup, Myanmar’s armed forces have used violence against unarmed opponents; more than 800 people have been killed, mostly by military gunfire. The deaths of two members of the National League of Democracy – the party led by Aung San Suu Kyi – in military custody have cast a much darker light on the military’s actions.
The streets of Myanmar were on edge on Saturday,6 March 2021.
Three days earlier, they had experienced the most violent day since the coup in February, with 38 people reported dead by the UN.
On 1 February 2021, the army seized power by claiming – without evidence – that the NLD had won a previous election.
Aung San Suu Kyi and senior leaders were placed under house arrest, triggering waves of protests.
The military appeared unsure of how to respond to the protests for the first three weeks.
By the end of February, they were using increasing levels of lethal force. It was clear by the first week of March that there would be no restraint.
The historic downtown neighborhood of Pabedan in central Yangon has seen plenty of drama with its narrow alleyways between crumbling colonial houses.
Several clashes broke out during that week as activists built barricades to keep out the security forces.
Pabedan has a diverse population, including a large number of Muslims, as well as eight mosques.
In last year’s general election, Sithu Maung, one of two Muslim candidates fielded by the NLD, won the seat.
Khin Maung Latt, a veteran NLD activist based in Pabedan, was his campaign manager. He lived with the family of a Buddhist lawyer.
He also co-owns a tour company and runs a video rental shop. Since 1988, he has served as the chairman of his local chapter of the NLD. The community knew and loved him.
Sithu Muang told the press he prayed five times a day from where he is hiding from the military.
“He was loved by people of all faiths. He created new parks for children to play in, and he played a significant role in the NLD.
The neighbors identified the soldiers as members of the 77th Light Infantry Division, a notorious unit for human rights abuses.
Ko Tun Kyi, a friend of Khin Maung Latt, says the soldiers were actually searching for U Maung Maung, who was a more senior member of the NLD and had fled to hiding.
Due to this, they broke into Khin Maung Latt’s home and dragged him out, kicking and hitting him.
Ko Tun Kyi believes Khin Maung Latt was taken from Yangon City Hall, the first building seized after the coup.
Khin Maung Latt’s family was called early the next morning by the police to pick up his body from a military hospital in northern Yangon.
He fainted, and they were told to inform people he had suffered a heart attack.
But the family insists that the 58-year-old was in good health and had no known illnesses. They say his body showed signs of multiple wounds on it and was covered in a blood-soaked cloth.
During what may have been an autopsy, the body had been cut open and sewn up, but the family has not been given an official report on the cause of death. He was buried later that day in a Muslim ceremony.
The US-based human rights organization Physicians for Human Rights has examined the evidence, including photographs of Khin Maung Latt’s body.
While it is unable to make any definitive judgments, it has concluded that the cause of death given by the military authorities is implausible and that he is most likely to have died from “homicidal violence” while in custody.
Ko Tun Kyi believes he was deliberately killed. He was detained less than ten hours before his family was informed of his death; it was not the result of prolonged torture.
Having once been jailed and interrogated, I know how they get information out of you. Maybe they thought he was connected to the Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) – the rival government supported by the opposition,” he said.
Maybe they wanted to find out what the NLD is planning, or where activists were hiding?”
But the theory that the military was targeting Aung San Suu Kyi’s party gained more weight after the death of another NLD official, Zaw Myat Lynn, two days later.
Khin Maung Latt was less prominent in the opposition movement, and his treatment seems much more brutal.
The 46-year-old Zaw Myat Lynn worked as the director of a new vocational college in Shwe Pyi Thar, one of several that had been opened under the NLD government.
A dedicated NLD activist, he was chosen to be the local representative of the CRPH after the coup.
Before he was captured, he posted stirring messages on his Facebook page encouraging residents to keep up their revolution against the military, whom he referred to as dogs and terrorists.
“Zaw Myat Lynn was a political powerhouse,” an NLD official, who is now in hiding and cannot be named, told the press.
“He was an excellent speaker.”. The only person from our township who was able to unite people and lead the post-coup demonstrations was him. He persuaded government employees from various offices to join the civil disobedience movement.”

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