The inquiry report of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission into the death of Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi
(1) On the 24th of October 2014, the Ministry of Defense issued a news report about the death of Ko Aung Naing, an information officer, holding the rank of a captain in the KKO (Klohhtoobor Karen Organization) group, which appeared in the local newspapers on the 25th of October. Regarding this matter the Myanmar National Human Rights commission received a complaint from Min Thi Ha of Education Digest asking the Commission to investigate into the death of journalist Ko Par Gyi to reveal the truth behind this matter. The commission also received an undated letter from one Ma Thandar, which was addressed to (17) other designations, to look into the unlawful detention and also another complaint letter from Ma Thandar, dated the 30th of October with the heading of “The complaint by the family on the unlawful detention, torture and murder of Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi.”
The formation and proceedings of an investigation team
(2) To investigate on whether there were any human rights violations in the death of Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi, the MNHRC formed an investigation team comprising of the following members;
(a) U Sit Myaing
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
(b) U Zaw Win
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
(c) Dr. Nyan Zaw
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
(3) The investigation team visited Maw La Myaing and Kyaikmaraw townships from the 1st to 8th of November and met with the Officers and other ranks of military, Myanmar police and other witnesses.
(4) The team together with the chairman and members of Military Tribunal Court, the Tactical Commander of (22) LID, the Regimental commander and police officers, Mon State police commander and police officers, the Professor and Head of the Forensic Medicine Department of Yangon Medical College No(2) and Police surgeons, the township Judge of Kyaikmaraw township, village heads, Daw Thandar and her team and the exhumation team went to Shwe Wah Gyaung Village at 08:00 hours on the 5th of November and began exhumation. The exhumation was completed at 13:45 hours of the same day.
(5) The investigation team again visited Mawlamyine from the 13rd to 16th of November and interrogated the Military Officers and other ranks, Myanmar Police Force officers and police personals and other witnesses.
(6) The number of persons interrogated is listed as follows:-
– Minister from the State Government (1)
– Commander, Chairman of Investigation Board and
Officers and other ranks (20)
– Deputy Head of State Police Force, officers and
members of police (6)
– Police Surgeon (1)
– Newspaper Reporters (5)
– Abbot (Monk) (1)
– Head of village tract administration and villagers (11)
– Mon Peacekeeping Force (1)
– Democracy and Women’s Network (1)
(7) The departments that provided documentary evidences;
(a) Ministry of Home Affairs
(b) Ministry of Immigration and Manpower
(c) Ministry of Health
(d) Myanmar Peace Centre
(e) South East Command
(f) No (22) LID
(g) Office of the Chemical Examination Centre
(h) Criminal Investigation Department
(8) Journals those were perused and referred to;
(a) The Statement of the Myanmar Journalist Association dated 4th of May 2012.
(b) The article by Vice-Chairman of the Myanmar Media Council (Temporary) U Khin Maung Lay which appeared in the Eleven Media Group Journal of 24th October 2014
(c) The article by La Wun which appeared in the Pyi Myanmar Newspaper on the 12th of November 2014
(d) The article written by Pyi Kyaw which appeared in the Adipati Journal titled “The meeting with Vice Chairman Saw Moshe of KKO”
(e) All local journals carrying articles and news about Reporter Par Gyi.
(f) The contents of the letter dated the 29th of November 2014, which was received on the 1st of December, sent by Daw Thandar’s lawyer U Robert San Aung.
The situation in Kyaik-ma-raw
(9) Until the arrival of the KKO group led by Saw Win Zaw to the vicinity of Kayintaw Village in Kyaikmaraw Township on the 26th of September, the area was peaceful and quiet. The (208) LIR based in Kyaikmaraw together with the Police Force, Peoples militia, local administrative authorities and departmental officials were taking care of the safety of the town. There were no reports of any major or minor outbreaks of fighting in the area. It was also found out there were no reports of any conflicts between the Government side and the cease fire groups, i.e. KNU, DKBA, KKO and Mon Peace groups.
(10) However, according to reports on the night of 20th September at 8:10 pm, based on a tip, a raid was carried out on the house of U Win Maung, a KKO sympathizer residing at Yezin Road Mudon, by a combined team of Mudon based military, police and local administrative personal of Mudon. A 9mm pistol of Austrian manufacture, a 0.38 caliber revolver and related ordinances were found and confiscated.
The incidents between the Military and Saw San Aung, KKO group
(11) On the 26th of September at 09:00 hours in the morning, news was received of an uniformed band of KKO armed group moving towards Kyaikmaraw, from Niton village in Kyaikmaraw Township. The band led by Saw Win Zaw and Saw Toe Aung (a) Gaung Gyi composes of (22) members and their armaments include 3 nos of (40) mm grenade launchers, one (60) mm mortar and 2 RPGs. All of them also carried small arms. Upon hearing the news, a major, captain and (6) soldiers from LIR (208) stationed in Kyaikmaraw, accompanied by a police corporal from Kyaukmaraw Police Station departed for Kayin Taw Village in Kalaingkanaing village tract, Kyaikmaraw to meet and talk with the armed group. Learning of this, the special branch police lieutenant in charge of Kyaikmaraw Area and a sergeant from the military security branch followed to Kayintaw Village by motor bike to gather information. They noticed that at KKO armed group (tax hut) in Kayintaw (upper village), the major, captain, the Kyaikmaraw Police force 2nd lieutenant and the police corporal were sitting and talking amicably with KKO captain Saw Win Zaw and Saw Toe Aung (a) Gaung Gyi.It was learnt that the captain of (208) LIR told the KKO that since this area falls within the (208) LIR maneuvering zone, the KKO, if they wished to come in arms and uniforms they will need to inform the Regiment in advance and since Saw Win Zaw is a native of Kyaikmaraw, out of personal friendship, he can call in on a cell phone.
(12) While they were thus talking, the remaining armed KKO took up positions in the hut. At 10:15 the KKO group suddenly stood up and disarmed the major, captain and (2) soldiers and also detained the Police lieutenant, the Army Sergant, the area surveillance Police Corporal and the 2nd lieutenant from the Traffic Police in the hut.
(13) While they were thus detained, a detachment of (10) soldiers led by the captain (officiating major) for (208) LIR who came to join up with the major came on the scene in an army vehicle [registration No. Star 4167(R)]. The KKO opened fire with small arms and (40) mm launchers, nicking the officiating major in the thigh, wounding the driver, a corporal in the left part of the chest and also nicking a sergeant in the right arm. The car front windshield, the lower part of the door and left front tire was also hit and the car came to a stop. The KKO detained (15) Villagers who happened to be near the scene but at 12:00 hours, the civilians were released.
(14) After the incident under the supervision of S.E command, a relief platoon from (210) LIR was dispatched to the area, and they reached the village at 13:00 hours. They made contact with the KKO group at Kayintaw (Upper Village) and took up position there. During the skirmish, (7) rounds of Mortar fire and also small arms fire were exchanged but there were no casualties.
(15) Among those detained, the area police surveillance corporal, the sergeant from Mobile Operation Group and the Police 2nd lieutenant from Kyaikmaraw Police Force managed to escape. At 3:00 pm in the afternoon, Saw Win Zaw and Saw Toe Aung (a) Gaung Gyi told the (16) detained military and police personnel that they were going to retreat, and after warning them not to try to escape, they used the (16) detainees as hostages and moved out to Niton Village in Kyaikmaraw Township. They reached Niton Village jetty at 4:15 pm in the evening and after taking the arms and ordinance captured from (208) LIR, the (22) armed men, led by Saw Win Zaw and Saw Toe Aung (a) Gaung Gyi, left in (2) motor boats, travelling upstream towards Kwar Ngan Village in Kyaikmaraw township. It was learnt that the (16) detainees were then released.
(16) It was also learnt that on the 27th of September 2014 at 1:45 pm in the afternoon, the South East command notified by Wireless (5 staff 1) to No (19) Mobile Operation Command Headquarter, (22) light infantry division, No (12) Mobile Operation Command and Tactical Operation Command (based Kyar In Seikkyi) that starting from 8:00 o’clock on the morning of 27th September, the whole area is under Active Duty Status.
(17) It was learnt that (22) LID and its units went on the offensive to clear out KKO Saw San Aung’s group from Kyaikmaraw township starting from the night of 26th September 2014. There were reports of fighting between the two sides.
The arrest of Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi
(18) On the morning of 30th September 2014 at 9:30 am, a suspicious looking person was arrested when a cycle taxi was stopped and inspected at the junction of Setkone Road at Kyaikmaraw town. According to the NRC card No. 12/Magada (N) 013498 found on him, it was ascertained that the person was Aung Naing, (43) years of age, father’s name U Khaing residing at No(27) Mingalar Road, Kyankhinsu ward. Documents and other items numbering (67) in all was seized from him.
(19) According to the extracts of Ko Aung Naing and other witnesses, Aung Naing was with the KKO group from the 26th of September to the morning of 30th of September. It was also learnt that Ko Aung Naing was with the KKO group when the group engaged the Army units on the 27th and 28th September.
(20) It was learnt that Ko Aung Naing was apprehended by the military on 30th of September, and from that day to the 4th of October was transferred from one front line unit to another under the (22) LID in a bid to recover the arms and munitions that were taken by KKO Saw Win Zaw and party. It was also learnt that the military units were able to recover (3) MA (1) rifles and ammunitions, also local mines accessories of KKO group with the assistance of Ko Aung Naing.
The death of Ko Aung Naing (a) Par Gyi
(21) On the evening of 4th October 2014, the (210) LIR regiment unit took over Ko Aung Naing (a) Par Gyi from the (22) LID front line headquarters stationed at Shwe Wah Gyaung Monastery. That night the unit camped at a small hill near Shwe Wah Gyaung. At night the platoon commander in charge, had Ko Aung Gyi (a) Ko Par Gyi bound hands and feet and (2) soldiers were posted on sentry duty to guard him. During the night Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi said he wanted to urinate, so the guard untied his ropes. His right hand though was still tied. After he had urinated, the guard again bound his hands. At this moment, Ko Aung Naing shoved the guard down with his body and when the guard fell down, Aung Naing tried to wrestle the gun from him. It was then that the second sentry, a Lance Corporal fired (2) short bursts with his rifle. In the ensuing struggle, a shot also went off from the first sentry’s gun. Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi fell down on the spot. Upon hearing the gunshots, the platoon commander and other officers arrived on the spot. The medic examined the body and found that Ko Aung Naing has died of (5) gunshot wounds. The time was 7:45 pm in the evening. The front line unit reported to Divisional Headquarters. After making enquires, the Divisional Headquarters gave permission for Ko Aung Naing body to be buried. It was learnt from the hearings that he was buried near Shwe War Chaung village, estimated map reference (LU-785045) the same night at 9:45 pm.
The exhumation and transfer of Ko Aung Naing’s body
(22) At 11:40 am on the 5th of November 2014, the body of so called Ko Aung Naing was exhumed with the members mentioned in section (4) in attendance. Ko Aung Naing was wearing a Blue checkered shirt, a green checkered Longyi and underwear. Some portions of ground for the sides and on the body, also from under the body were gathered and sent to the Chemical Laboratory in Yangon to test on whether any drugs or poisons were present. It was also found that a toothbrush, toothpaste, a packet of soap detergent and white and blue striped rubber slippers were buried together with the body.
(23) At 13:50 pm in the afternoon of 5th November 2014, the body was wrapped and transferred to Moulmein Hospital. The body reached the hospital at 5:25 pm in the evening. At 7:40 pm the body was washed and examined for external wounds. The findings were put on record. (16) X-Ray Photos were also taken with a portable X-Ray machine at 20:30 hours. At 22:30 hours, the examinations were completed.
(24) On the 6th of November 2014 at 09:00 hours in the morning, an autopsy was performed by police surgeons from the Ministry of Health under autopsy case no 287/14. Spouse Daw Thandar confirmed the identity of so called Ko Aung Naing by the brown birth mark on the left side of his back, also by his height and by his long soles. On the 7th of November 2014, Daw Thandar and party brought the body of Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi from Mawla Myaing to Yangon and he was buried at the Ye Wai cemetery at 5:00 pm on the same day.
(25) Although the South Eastern Command and the (22) light Infantry Division have established the Active Duty Status, due consideration should have been given to the fact that efforts for a ceasefire have been undertaken between the various ethnic armed groups and the Government. It was seen that there was a lack of transparency in reporting the intrusions of Saw San Aung K.K.O group and the death of a member of KKO group even before Daw Thandar filed a report. Also there was a lack of process of legal proceedings to file a death case.
(26) According to the statements it was learnt that during Ko Aung Naing’s detention and during military operations, his hands were bound behind his back during the daytime and both hands and feet were bound at night and sentries were posted. But, when he was held temporarily at Divisional headquarters, only sentries were posted and hands and feet were not bound. It was also learnt that Aung Naing was given the same ration that was given to the soldiers.
(27) When enquiring on whether there was use of torture during detention, no witness came to testify as to whether torture was applied.
(28) It was also found that very little instruction was given on the procedures of systematic detention, supervision and step by step methods to be taken in the case of a prisoner escaping, by the LIR(210) commander and company commander.
(29) It was found that the Deputy Commander and company commander of (210) LIR were lax in their supervision when the deceased was buried. There was no systematic record of the burial and also no photographic evidence.
(30) Through the testimony of the officers of (210) LIR, an alms offering ceremony according to Buddhist rites were held for the soul of the deceased.
(31) On the 15th of November the autopsy report of one Ko Aung Naing, was received from the office of Mawlamyaing Township Health Ministry. The report stated that the main cause of death was due to the bullet wounds inflicted on the head, chest, thighs and calf.
(32) In addition, the police surgeon of Kayin State translated and read out the autopsy report (in English) sent by the Ministry of Health. The following wounds were found on the body of the deceased.
- Comminuted Fracture Skull Bones, Fracture Mandible, Multiple Splinter Pieces.
- There were 6th and 7th rib fractures at posterior angle of the left side of chest.
- No bony fracture, Splinter pieces (+)
(d) Fracture calcaneum (Left) with splinter pieces (+)
(e) Fracture shaft of Right Radius
(f) Entrance gunshot wound measuring (4×2.5) cm underneath the chin.
(g) Bursting and comminuted fractured skull bone (exist gunshot wound)
(h) Two entrance gunshot wounds measuring (5×1.5) cm and (5×2) cm over the left chest wall.
(i) Entrance gunshot wound measuring (0.5) cm in diameter, surrounded by gun powder tattooing, over the medial aspect of left thigh.
(j) Exit gunshot wound measuring (2.5.x2) cm over the lateral aspect of left thigh.
(k) Entrance gunshot wound measuring (3.5×2) cm at the medical aspect of the left heel.
(l) Exit gunshot wound measuring (9×5) cm over the lateral aspect of left heel.
(m) Two entrance gunshot wounds measuring (2.5×1) cm and (1×0.5) cm below the left scapula region.
(n) There was no extra-cranial hematoma.
(o) There was gunshot wounds over 4th rob and 4th intercostal space with 4th rib fracture anteriorly at the left side of the chest.
(p) There was haematoma around the exit wound over the left side of anterior chest wall.
(q) Two gunshot wounds measuring (3.5×2.5) cm in upper lobe and (2.5×2) cm in lower lobe of the left lung. The right lung was intact.
(r) There was fracture shaft of upper third of left femur, between the entrance and exit wounds of the left thigh.
(33) Accordingly the report from the Chemical lab in Yangon dated 11-11-2014 and reference No 978/SaHta(Blood)/Yaka/2014 revealed that human blood was found in the Shirt, Underwear and Longgyi. The report was received on the 15th of November 2014.
(34) The examination by the office of the Criminal Investigation Department (Nay Pyi Taw) revealed the following facts.
(1) The specimen cotton wool inserted into the left thigh wound of the deceased revealed traces of cordite
(2) The hole in the front left side of the dark blue checkered shirt and the hole near the left rear shoulder blade were due to gunshot wounds.
(3) The hole measuring 4.5 cm found in the green checkered Longgyi was also a gunshot wound.
(4) Skins over the tips of all fingers of the left hand were photographed using strobe lights; also the finger prints were taken. However no identifiable lines could be discerned, thus the Immigration and National Registration Department was not able to match the death man’s fingerprints with those in the photocopy of the Naing(2) form.
(35) Upon examination of the records sent by the Myanmar Peace Center, it was found that (UPWC) and (NCCT) held the 6th Meeting of the (NCA) single text draft contract agreement from the 22nd to 26th of September 2014. In the attendance sheet of 22nd to 26th September, Saw San Aung was registered as a DKBA representative. However, there was no record of Ko Aung Naing(a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing(a) Ko Par Gyi’s name in the Media attendance register.
(36) According to the Media reports and also the findings of (22)LID interrogation and Myawaddy Intelligence, Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi went to the Thai-Myanmar Border and joined ABSDF group. After that he contacted the DKBA group and become active. When he was apprehended on 30th September, the following identification cards were found on him.
(a) National Identification Card No 12/Magada(N)013498 bearing the name of Ko Aung Naing
(b) The Passport No TO 008075 only for Thailand issued by the Ministry of Labour dated (2-5-2013) in the name of Ko Aung Naing.
(c) (3) School teacher identification cards written in Thai and issued by the Thai Education Department. They are
(1) Card issued to Naing Aung Kyaw Naing in 2012
(2) Card issued to Naing Aung Naing in 2013
(3) Card issued to Naing Aung Naing in 2014
Conclusions of the Investigation team
(37) Since there were no records of Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi (Ko Aung Gyi) in either the register of attendees to the Myanmar Peace Center meeting of (22nd – 26th) September (or) the register of the Media personals of (24th – 26th) September it could neither be asserted that he was a DKBA member (nor) a media personal. [Reference should be made to section (30)]
(38) According to the interrogative records of Ko Aung Naing by the (22)LID and the documents and photos captured from him, the South- East command and (22)LID assumed that the said Ko Aung Naing was a member of Saw San Aung’s KKO group and an Information Officer with the rank of Captain.
(39) According to the statements by Vice President (3) U Myat Khine (Snap Shot Journal) of Myanmar Newspaper journalist Association and also from Ko Phyo Wai Aung (a) Ko Aung Pa, Freelance Reporter from Hpa-an, it was learnt that Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi was a freelance reporter but he was not a member of Newspaper Journalist Association.
(40) On the 30th of September, a suspicious person was apprehended in Kyaikmaraw Township and upon searching him, the authorities found a National Registration Card, No 12/Magada(N) 013498 in the name of Aung Naing and other documents. It can be assumed that they did not try to ascertain the identity of the person by further perusal of the documents.
(41) Although they arrested the person in view of the suspicious nature of evidences on him and the arrest took place in Kyaikmaraw Township, it was found that the police failed to file a surveillance report, also failed to record the case at the police station and in addition failed to notify the military that such measures had to be undertaken.
(42) The South East Command and (22) LID both have the opportunity of investigating the said Aung Naing in detail, also of attesting his signature to the investigation report, but they failed to do so. The military records of KKO were not examined and also no enquiries were made to DKBA and KKO.
(43) Although it was quite evident that the so called Ko Aung Naing was actively involved with Saw San Aung’s group in the Kyaikmaraw Township from the 26th to 30th September 2014, there was no evidence that he took up arms against the military, nor was there evidence that he took news photos with a camera. Therefore it cannot be explicitly implied that during the said period (26-30) September the so called Ko Aung Naing was a member of KKO nor could he be regarded as a correspondent.
(44) Also an article appeared in the “Adipadi” Journal written by one Pyi Kyaw. The article was captioned “A meeting with KKO vice chairman colonel Saw Moshe (DKBA Deputy Commander in Chief).” According to what was written in the article, it can be concluded that the so called Ko Aung Naing was not a member of KKO. In the article KKO Vice Chairman Colonel Saw Moshe was quoted as saying “Ko Par Gyi is like a friend of KKO. I saw him when he came to DKBA Day to gather news. I heard that he is the Information captain of KKO. In KKO we don’t hold ranks. We hold only responsibilities. There is no connection between Ko Par Gyi and us.”
(45) It was found out that there was no transparency and timely release of the news by concerned officials. The units in charge of command supervision apprehended the so called Ko Aung Naing. He was made to accompany the front line units to uncover the military ordnance taken by KKO. In the process he tried to escape and was shot and killed. A case of homicide was filed.
(46) Although Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi had the opportunity to leave Myawaddy by 26th September, he went along with KKO Saw San Aung’s group up till the 30th of September in the operations area of Tatmadaw. Then from 30th September to 4th October he accompanied the front line units of Tatmadaw and helped to recover the military ordnances taken by KKO Win Zaw’s group and also the KKO handmade mines. These led the Tatmadaw to assume that he was a member of the KKO group.
(47) Although journalists and news reporters from the vicinity of Yangon, Pa-an and Myawaddy Township, knew and accepted Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi as a freelance reporter, the reporters from Mawlamyaing and Kyaikmaraw said they had heard of him but had never seen him. Also when he was apprehended he did not claim to be a reporter, nor was there any evidence. No immediate claim was made to the Tatmadaw and concerned organizations. Due to these facts the front line units carrying out the operations were not aware of the so called Ko Aung Naing to be a reporter.
(48) When Daw Thandar filed a missing person complaint at the Kyaikmaraw, the National Registration of so called Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi was given as 12/Lamata(N) 013498, but the card seized from Ko Aung Naing on the 30th of October had the Registration No 12/Magada(N) 013498. Upon enquiry by the Immigration authorities the card bearing Registeration No 12/Magada(N) 013498 belonged to one Ma Khin San Oo. This shows that he was holding a false National Registration Card.
Recommendations by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
(49) The Myanmar Police Force should carry out the police investigation of the death of Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi to the very end and prosecute the case in line with the judicial proceedings.
(50) Except in matters of National Security news release of all other cases dealing with the public should be carried out in a transparent and timely manner.
(51) Since so called Ko Aung Naing (a) Ko Aung Kyaw Naing (a) Ko Par Gyi (pseudonym- Aung Gyi) is a Citizen of Myanmar, he should be accorded equal status before the law and is also entitled to equal protection of the law.
(52) Therefore the Commission would like to recommend that, in line with section 347 of the constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, for attainment of the fundamental rights of the citizens and also for transparency in the eyes of the public, this case should be tried in a civil court.
The Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
Date: 2 December, 2014