U Shwe Sein Oo told The Irrawaddy that his son, Maung Zaw Naing Naing Htay, was riding his motorbike on Feb. 21 when a group of soldiers in a car blocked his path. He said his son showed them his student ID card, but the soldiers hit him in the temple of his head with a gun barrel and took him to the Battalion 539 barracks nearby before releasing him later the same day.
U Shwe Sein Oo said his son spent that night at a friend’s house, but the next day began to feel faint and behave strangely.
“In the morning he told me about what happened to him,” he said. “Then in the evening he said his temples and his body hurt, and he almost lost consciousness and cried hysterically that soldiers were coming. Then we sent him to Kyauktaw Hospital.”
He said he filed a complaint against the battalion on Monday with the Kyauktaw Township police under four sections of the Penal Code — 114, 325, 342 and 352 — for assault, causing grievous hurt, wrongful confinement, and aiding and abetting.
“I am so sad that this happened when my son is about to sit for the matriculation exam. I filed the complaint because my son has not recovered,” U Shwe Sein Oo said.
The exam, the most important in Myanmar for admission to university, is usually held in the first and second weeks of March.
Maung Zaw Naing Naing Htay was later transferred to Sittwe People’s Hospital, where an Irrawaddy reporter visited him on Tuesday. He appeared to not recognize his family members and to need assistance to drink. His family took him out of Sittwe People’s Hospital on Wednesday to send him to Yangon for further medical care.
The head of the Kyauktaw Township police station confirmed receipt of the complaint.
“We have received a complaint and we will investigate in response,” Capt. Soe Lwin told The Irrawaddy.
Rakhine State Security and Border Affairs Minister Col. Phone Tint said he was not familiar with the details of the case but would investigate once police finished their report.
“If the police report to us, we will check if it is true or not,” he said.
A military spokesman said the people who allegedly attacked Maung Zaw Naing Naing Htay were probably members of the Arakan Army (AA) — an ethnic armed group the military is currently fighting in northern Rakhine — dressed as Myanmar military soldiers.
“They accused the Tatmadaw [military] of abducting him and said online that the student could not even speak. But the reality is that he was abducted by the AA,” said Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, a member of the military’s True News Information Team.
The military has also retaliated against the family.
Battalion 375, whose barracks are near where Maung Zaw Naing Naing Htay was allegedly stopped and attacked, has filed a complaint with the Kyauktaw Township Court accusing U Shwe Sein Oo and another man, U Kyaw Hla Myint, of defamation.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.