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Man dies during Myanmar junta interrogation

A man from southwestern Myanmar died during a military interrogation between Oct. 19 and 20, revolution groups told Radio Free Asia on Monday. Military officials arrested 20-year-old Soe Paing Oo for allegedly communicating with a People’s Defense Force in the country’s northern region of Mandalay. 

The Ayeyarwady region local, as well as three others, surrendered to the junta on Oct. 5 during a ceremony at Pathein’s Southwestern Regional Military Headquarters. Junta officials reported the four men defected from resistance groups and that they gave each one 300,000 kyats (US$143).

Although locals disputed that the arrested men were resistance fighters, junta officials presented the men with certificates noting their surrender.

In the following days, the military officers interrogated Soe Paing Oo, who is from Kan Thone Sint village in Kyonpyaw township, as well as another man from Ngathaingchaung township, the revolution group told RFA. 

“They were welcomed with a ceremony at the Southwestern Regional Military Headquarters. [Previously], they were living under house arrest,” members of the revolution group said, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. “A man who surrendered to the junta from Kyonpyaw township was taken and interrogated by the Kyonpyaw army officers. I heard that he died during the interrogation and was cremated directly in the military headquarters.”

Details about Soe Paing Oo’s death are still unknown, and it is likely he was not affiliated with any People’s Defence Force, they added. 

In Ayeyarwady region, many civilians are currently seeking the protection of resistance groups. After protesting during the 2021 coup, they are sheltering with People’s Defence Forces to avoid arrest and will sometimes surrender to junta troops if the group is attacked. 

Despite their alleged civilian status, locals told RFA that police were already investigating Soe Paing Oo and the three other men before they surrendered.

RFA could not confirm the condition of the Ngathaingchaung man who was arrested with Soe Paing Oo. 

Around 20 people in Ayeyarwady region surrendered to the military in the region’s capital of Pathein, according to junta officials.

In October, junta troops were accused of forcing Ayeyarwady region locals to meet recruitment quotas for military training, including minors. 

Calls by RFA to Ayeyarwady region’s junta spokesperson Maung Maung Than went unanswered.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Taejun Kang and Elaine Chan