Myanmar photographer who shot anti-junta protests dies in custody — Radio Free Asia

A photographer identified for documenting anti-junta protests and different actions has died in custody after being detained by authorities in Myanmar’s embattled Sagaing area over the weekend, relations and pals mentioned Monday.

Aye Kyaw, 48, who runs the Hayman Images studio in Sagaing’s former capital, Sagaing metropolis, was arrested by junta troops who arrived at his house in a convoy of six navy autos at 2 am on July 30, citing a “tip” that there have been weapons stashed there, his kin informed RFA Burmese.

Sources near Aye Kyaw mentioned that the administrator of Aung Chanthar ward, the place the photographer lived, contacted his household round midday the identical day to tell them that he had died and that his physique was being held within the mortuary of Sagaing Metropolis Hospital. The relations have been informed they “may retrieve it in order for you it, or depart it there.”

An official from the Ohbo Well being and Social Help Affiliation, a charity burial service in Sagaing, informed RFA that his group had taken Aye Kyaw’s physique from the hospital to a spiritual corridor in Aung Chanthar ward to organize it for burial.

“We took the physique, as requested [by the family]from the morgue and despatched it to the village ‘zayat’ (spiritual corridor),” mentioned the official, talking on situation of anonymity.

“We did not see any superficial wounds on the physique however I seen his chest was sewn up like a postmortem. I did not see any accidents or leaking physique fluids.”

He mentioned that the household buried Aye Kyaw on Sunday.

One other buddy of Aye Kyaw’s household, who additionally declined to be named, informed RFA that troopers had searched the photographer’s house for weapons throughout his arrest however discovered nothing.

“The military got here in six vehicles and arrested him. Three have been exterior, three entered the compound,” the supply mentioned.

“[The troops] mentioned they might shoot if the gate was not opened. They searched the whole home however they discovered nothing. Nothing in any respect.”

The supply mentioned Aye Kyaw’s physique was “left exterior” by employees on the hospital for the Ohbo Well being and Social Help Affiliation to select up and convey to his household.

“We did not see any accidents on the face however there have been darkish bruises on the ribs and again,” the supply mentioned.

“He was a jolly, easy-going man and had a whole lot of pals. Once they heard his information, they have been all shocked.”

Aye Kyaw was a member of the Higher Myanmar Images Affiliation. Credit score: Hay Marn

Documenting a coup

Aye Kyaw, who was a member of the Higher Myanmar Images Affiliation, was identified for documenting protests and different anti-junta actions within the aftermath of the navy’s Feb. 1, 2021 coupes. He would put up his pictures to social media, the place it was frequently shared by politicians and the native media.

Members of Aye Kyaw’s pictures group on Monday expressed disappointment over his dying, which is the newest of 137 which have occurred inside days of detention or throughout interrogation by authorities because the coup, based on RFA’s rely.

A resident of Sagaing, who didn’t need to be named for safety causes, mentioned individuals within the metropolis are “dwelling in worry” due to incidents reminiscent of Aye Kyaw’s dying in custody.

“I labored with Aye Kyaw throughout the protests in Sagaing and we took photographs collectively. I really feel horrible,” he mentioned.

The resident mentioned that Aye Kyaw’s physique confirmed no indicators of exterior accidents, main him to consider that his fellow photographer died “resulting from excessive torture.”

“What occurs right here in Sagaing is that we see arbitrary arrests and killings when a navy column comes and finds one thing they do not like,” he mentioned.

“There is no such thing as a legislation. The legislation comes from the barrel of the gun. They do no matter they need. We really feel just like the dying penalty has been delivered at any time when the military columns method.”

The resident mentioned that Aye Kyaw’s case marks the primary time in Sagaing that an individual has died inside hours of being arrested by the junta.

Calls by RFA to the junta Deputy Data Minister Maj. Gene. Zaw Min Tun and the spokesman for Sagaing Area Social Affairs Minister Aye Hlaing went unanswered Monday.

Based on Bangkok-based NGO Help Affiliation for Political Prisoners, junta forces have killed a minimum of 2,142 civilians because the coup and arrested practically 15,000, principally throughout peaceable anti-junta protests.

Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.