No Cover-up — Killing Of Journalist Needs Investigating And Killer/s Prosecuted

The killing of freelance journalist, Aung Kyaw Naing, (also known as Par Gyi), while held in custody by the Burma Army in Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State, has outraged human rights organizations and journalist groups. The Assistant Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) bluntly stated in a media statement released yesterday that Aung Kyaw Naing’s death “is a shocking reminder of how extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and torture are still being used against citizens in Burma.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement condemning the journalist’s killing.

“The killing of Aung Kyaw Naing by Burma’s military is reprehensible,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s Southeast Asia representative. “Civilian authorities must investigate the military’s accounting of his death, which has the initial hallmarks of a cover-up. Any soldier found responsible for his extrajudicial killing or mistreatment before his death must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Aung Kyaw Naing also worked as a security guard for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during the 1988 Democratic Movement. In recent years Aung Kyaw Naing worked as a freelance journalist on the Thai-Burma border. When he disappeared he was on assignment reporting on the ongoing violent clashes between the Burma Army and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA). The Assistant Association for Political Prisoners said Aung Kyaw Naing “was arrested on September 30th by Light Infantry Battalion No-204 and died in custody on October 4th.”

The AAPP said that government had responded to the killing by stating that Aung Kyaw Naing “alleged actions in trying to steal a gun during his detention caused his own death. So far we have seen no basis for this allegation, with his body not even being returned to his family.”

AAPP warned that Aung Kyaw Naing “death is a reprehensible demonstration of how the rights of the citizen in Burma are not respected and how intimidation and violence are used against them. Extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and torture are abhorrent violations of basic human rights and the death of Aung Kyaw Naing serves to highlight how these practices are systematically being used to oppress people and deny basic civil liberties.”

AAPP are calling for the government to conduct an official inquiry into Aung Kyaw Naing’s death.

“The government must be open about what really happened to Aung Kyaw Naing and we demand an investigation into not only his death but into all accounts of extrajudicial killings. We strongly decry the actions of the government in this case and in all cases of extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention and of torture. We are calling for an investigation into both Aung Kyaw Naing’s case and all other cases that violate basic human rights and ignore the rule of law. If this government wishes to see a free democratic Burma then they must be strong in this issue and end these systematic and inhumane practices.”

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