BURMA: A man is severely tortured for a month at Rangoon police headquarters and sentenced to 15 years in prison


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-108-2010
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Judicial system, Rule of law, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that a man has been charged with a series of offences that are unrelated to his arrest. He was first arrested for his alleged involvement in a non-lethal explosion in Rangoon during 2009 but has been sentenced to 15 years in jail by two judges for other crimes. There is a lack of credible evidence and the man has given detailed descriptions of his severe and sustained torture in custody. This can be supported by medical examinations; one x-ray shows that his skull has been fractured.


On 3 March 2009 a small explosion in a suburb of Rangoon caused minor damage to the surroundings and no harm to any person. The next morning special investigation officers arrested Than Myint Aung, 31, while he was with his mother, and took them to the police headquarters.

In court we are told that Than Myint Aung described being brutally tortured for almost a month in custody. He was repeatedly punched, had his back stamped on, and was hit in various places with rubber truncheons. He reported that police prevented him from sleeping for around 15 days, forcing him to stand and kneel for long periods, and hitting him whenever he tried to rest. He also alleged that other torture techniques were used, such as the crushing of his fingers and the beating of the soles of his feet; he was force fed chili and hot water was poured onto his genitals.

After the police transferred Than Myint Aung to a local station, the officers who were to take him to prison first had him treated at hospital, where the staff took x-rays and found that his skull had been fractured. Notwithstanding, he was moved to the jail rather than kept in the hospital.
We are informed that the police submitted documents to the court that they had forced Than Myint Aung to sign while blank. The police acknowledged that they had not found any evidence to connect him to the explosion, however they claimed to have found a connection to other crimes instead. He was accused of having met with outlawed dissidents in Malaysia during 2007 and of having used the Internet illegally. They reportedly presented no credible evidence to support this however; the crimes were committed by persons with other names and they made the ingenious claim that these were his many aliases.
Please note that it is illegal for police to simply start investigating new types of crimes in this way without first getting approval from a judge, which they did not.

Despite Than Myint Aung’s depositions about torture, and his injuries, the judge in the township court failed to involve any medical staff, or even request the medical records that had been taken. He sentenced Than Myint Aung to five years in jail. The judge in the district court sentenced him to a further ten years. Full details of the case are provided in the sample letter below as usual.


Prior to his arrest, Than Myint Aung had a record as a model citizen. In 1998 he received a medal from the national Red Cross Society. The same year he attended a training programme of the government’s mass organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (now converted to a political party), and another one on unarmed self-defence organized with the police in his home town, so as to assist local authorities settle communal unrest. At the time of his arrest with his mother, he had just been on a religious pilgrimage.


For other recent appeals on cases of torture in police custody in Burma see: 
UAC-016-2010: Eleven people illegally detained, tortured and tried without evidence; UAC-011-2010: Nine people imprisoned on confessions obtained from torture; and, UAU-018-2009: Three innocent men are tortured into confessing to a bomb plot .

All urgent appeals on Burma can be accessed by going to the appeals homepage and typing “Burma” or “Myanmar” into the search box: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/. For further discussion see articles and special reports on the article 2 website:http://www.article2.org/search.php again search for Burma/Myanmar; and, see the 2009 AHRC annual report on Burma.

The Asian Legal Resource Centre recently released a special report on rule of law and human rights issues in Burma in the lead up to the Universal Periodic Review process for the country at the United Nations in Geneva. The report and annexe are available on the ALRC website at: http://www.alrc.net/doc/mainfile.php/upr/ (scroll to bottom of page).

To browse hundreds of other Burma-related appeals issued by the AHRC, go to the appeals homepage and type “Burma” or “Myanmar” into the search box: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/.

The AHRC Burmese-language blog is updated constantly for Burmese-language readers, and covers the contents of urgent appeal cases, related news, and special analysis pieces.


Please write to the persons listed below to call for the release of Than Myint Aung and for a special investigation into his allegations of torture. Please note that for the purposes of the letter Burma is referred to by its official name, Myanmar, and Rangoon as Yangon.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar, torture, and the independence of judges and lawyers; the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the regional human rights office for Southeast Asia calling for interventions into this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Alleged severe torture of man at Yangon Divisional Police HQ

Details of victim: Than Myint Aung, 31, daily wage worker, resident of Myinchan, Mandalay

Alleged torturers (all of Yangon Divisional Police Headquarters):
1. Inspector Soe Nyunt, Serial No. La/123972
2. Inspector Thet Naing
3. Inspector Sein Phyoe Maung
4. Sub-Inspector Myint Thein
5. Sub-Inspector Aung Zaw Latt
6. Sub-Inspector Khaing Kyi Kyaw

Criminal cases lodged against victim:
1. Unlawful Associations Act, 1908, section 17(1), Criminal Case No. 432/09, Thingangyun Township Court, Judge Daw Nyunt Nyunt Win (Serial No. Ta/2157, Special Power) presiding, sentenced to two years in prison on 1 June 2010
2. Immigration (Emergency Provisions) Act 1947, section 13(1), Criminal Case No. 897/10, Thingangyun Township Court, Judge Daw Nyunt Nyunt Win (Serial No. Ta/2157, Special Power) presiding, sentenced to three years in prison on 1 June 2010
3. Electronic Transactions Law 2004, section 33(1), Criminal Case No. 47/10, Yangon Western District Court, Judge Daw Nu Nu Khin (Serial No. Ta/1905, Deputy District Judge 6) presiding, sentenced to 10 years in prison on 16 July 2010

I am outraged to learn of the alleged severe torture and imprisonment of a young man, Than Myint Aung, and I am writing to urge that he be released, pending the establishment of a special investigation into his allegations.

According to the information that I have received, a small explosion occurred in Sanchaung, Yangon on 3 March 2009, causing minor damage and no harm to any persons. The next morning, officers from the police Intelligence and Politics Department arrested Than Myint Aung in relation to the explosion, together with his mother, and took them to the Yangon Divisional Police Headquarters. They later released Than Myint Aung’s mother but accused him of crimes unrelated to the explosion. He was instead accused of having met with outlawed dissidents in Malaysia during 2007 and of having used the Internet illegally.

According to Than Myint Aung’s depositions in court, on the way to the police station the officers tied a cloth over his face. At the station, they did not take off the cloth but started interrogating him by punching him repeatedly from different sides. Then one forced him to sit on the floor with his forehead also pressed on the floor while the officer stamped on his spine. After that they assaulted him with a rubber truncheon around his thighs, groin and back, and on his knuckles. They also put ball pens between his fingers and squeezed them together. That night they took him to search his in-laws’ house but did not find anything to connect him to the alleged crime.

Than Myint Aung alleged in court that not only on the first day but for the next month of his illegal detention at the division police headquarters (he had not been brought before a judge or charged with any offence within 24 hours as required by the Criminal Procedure Code) he was kept awake at night by police beating him, and that for 15 days straight he was prevented from sleeping by being forced to stand or kneel continuously; if he sat down normally he was hit. He was also stripped naked and had rubber truncheons run up and down his shins. He was allegedly beaten on the soles of his feet and had hot water poured onto his genitals. He was not given food or water, other than being force-fed hot chili.

After a month of torture in custody at the divisional headquarters, Than Myint Aung was transferred to the Sanchaung township police, who noticing his condition, took him to the general hospital. X-rays here revealed that his skull had been fractured. After that he was sent to Insein Central Prison.

In court the police presented documents that Than Myint Aung was forced to sign while blank, during interrogation and torture. They presented no credible material evidence to support the allegations against him, and a police inspector acknowledged that they had obtained no evidence related to the explosion, but rather, during the course of the investigation had uncovered his connection with other crimes. The policeman also admitted that they had held the accused and interrogated him for almost a month, although he could not recall the exact amount of time.

On this basis alone, the case should have been closed and the accused released in accordance with section 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code—or at very least brought into court. To continue the investigation on the new charges the police should have got approval from a judge.

Than Myint Aung denies that he had anything to do with any of the allegations against him, that he had been to Malaysia, that he had knowledge of the Internet transactions of which the police have accused him and that are in names other than his own. He maintains that the police either have made a mistake about his identity or are using him as a scapegoat because they cannot find the real offenders.

Despite the detailed depositions that he gave during the trial about torture, the judge in the township court recorded only that he had testified that he had been tortured in order to confess to his offences. Under paragraph 605 of the Courts Manual, the judge had a responsibility not only to hear and record the allegations but also to inquire into them: this would include calling for staff from the hospital, and requesting the records showing Than Myint Aung’s injuries, and for other evidence that might shed light on what happened to him; however, she completely ignored all these aspects of his testimony. The district court judge also ignored his allegations.

Accordingly, I call urgently for the immediate release of Than Myint Aung on the ground that the cases against him are wrong in law and in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Evidence Act, for the state to take responsibility for his medical treatment and rehabilitation from torture, and for the government to establish a special high-level inquiry into alleged institutionalized torture at the Yangon Divisional Police Headquarters, with a view to prosecuting any police officers found to have abused detainees.

I also take this opportunity to urge the Government of Myanmar to join the UN Convention against Torture, and remind it of the need to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross access to places of detention, in accordance with its globally recognized mandate, without any further delay.

Yours sincerely,



1. Maj-Gen. (Retd.) Maung Oo
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

2. Lt-Gen. (Retd.) Thein Sein
Prime Minister
c/o Ministry of Defence
Tel: + 95 1 372 681
Fax: + 95 1 652 624

3. U Aung Toe
Chief Justice
Office of the Supreme Court
Office No. 24
Tel: + 95 67 404 080/ 071/ 078/ 067 or + 95 1 372 145
Fax: + 95 67 404 059

4. U Aye Maung
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Office No. 25
Tel: +95 67 404 088/ 090/ 092/ 094/ 097
Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106

5. Brig-Gen. Khin Yi
Director General
Myanmar Police Force
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +951 549 663 / 549 208


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrchk.org)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-108-2010
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Judicial system, Rule of law, Torture,