‘No freedom in Myanmar,’ says journalist’s widow

Widow of journalist killed by military says body buried ‘disrespectfully’ in shallow grave

Update: 09:17, 10 November 2014 Monday

World Bulletin/News Desk

The widow of a journalist killed in military custody in Myanmar held a traditional Buddhist death rites ceremony Sunday, days after his body was dug from a shallow grave amid torture claims.

Freelancer Aung Kyaw Naing, also known as Par Gyi, was detained on Sept. 30 while covering clashes in southeastern Myanmar between the military and rebel forces from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army.

His wife Than Dar spent weeks trying to find him, unaware he had been shot dead four days after his arrest.

In an interview with The Anadolu Agency, Than Dar said her husband’s body looked mutilated when it was pulled from the ground Wednesday. “His skull was smashed… his jaw was dislocated and some of his teeth were missing,” she said.

She added that Par Gyi had been buried “disrespectfully” in a grave no more than half a meter deep. There was no coffin or shawl and his underwear was showing, she said.

Than Dar, along with human rights groups, has rejected the military’s claim that Par Gyi was working for the rebels and was shot trying to escape.

The military buried the body in secret and only admitted to the killing after a public appeal from Than Dar for her husband’s release almost three weeks later.

An autopsy report has been sent to the Ministry of Health, according to the National Human Rights Commission, which is in charge of the investigation.

But Than Dar told the AA she is concerned the results will not be presented accurately.

She said the medical examiners who carried out the autopsy told her Par Gyi had five bullet wounds, including one in his face and two in his abdomen, but refused to talk about his other injuries.

“That’s the nature of Myanmar,” she said, “when it comes to government you don’t have freedom, you can’t think independently.”

Prominent opposition politician Tin Oo was among a crowd of friends, family and well-wishers who arrived for a ceremony Sunday morning at the Thar Du Kyaung monastery, which was shut down by the military junta in 2007 for its role in supporting a pro-democracy uprising in the former capital, Yangon.

Tin Oo, whose National League for Democracy has a strong relationship with Than Dar’s family, attended to eat food donated by the widow and other well-wishers as part of a Buddhist ritual that followers believe secures the passage of the soul to the afterlife. He also attended the funeral Friday.

He said Than Dar would be eligible to seek compensation from the government if an investigation ordered by President Thein Sein finds the military at fault.

The turmoil around the journalist’s death comes ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, who has been challenged to press Myanmar’s nominally civilian government over widespread fears that democratic reforms are backsliding.

Obama’s last visit in late 2012 came amid international optimism as the country began to emerge from five decades of military rule and undo its status as a pariah state.

In words that echoed a recent statement by National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Tin Oo told the AA that Myanmar’s reforms have become “stagnant,” though he stressed the process, which has seen hundreds of political prisoners freed and press censorship relaxed, is “not actually reversing yet.”

SOURCE www.worldbulletin.net