Lahtaw Brang Shawng, a resident of Jan Mai Kawng Refugee Camp in Myitkyina, Kachin State, was arrested by military intelligence on the charge of involvement in recent bombings in Kachin State. On June 28, the local court dismissed the charges due to a recording device found strapped to his stomach, suggesting involvement on the part of Military Affairs Security.
According to Brang Shawng’s lawyer Ma Hka, the judge found the recording device when Brang Shawng was brought before the court in Myitkyina. “When I went to talk the judge, he revealed Brang Shawng’s eyes were pallid and there were serious wounds on his face. It is not good to examine him when he’s wounded. He (Brang Shawng) said the wounds came from a motorbike accident,” said Ma Hka.
The wounds and the recording device led the judge to believe someone had been exerting control over Brang Shawng, forcing him to accept responsibility for the bombings. It was made clearer after a number of questions were asked, according to Ma Hka. “The judge asked the military intelligence to go outside because Brang Shawng was watching them with fear. After, the judge examined him again, reminding him to tell the truth. Brang Shawng said he would answer honestly, but this time the Military Affairs Security (MAS) agents who are standing outside started walking around and making noise. The judge got angry when he found the recording device on Brang Shawng’s stomach when he took his shirt out, so he stopped the examination. After that, no one knows where he was taken,” Ma Kha said.
Members of Brang Shawng’s family are worried that he might be detainedandsubject to torture, because the authorities have not allowed his family members or lawyer Ma Hka to see him.
After taking photos, the Judge U Zaw Min began arrangements to submit the case to a higher level Township Court. Officer Kyaw Zwa Lin, a leader of military intelligence, has demanded the judge refrain from passing the case on.
Brang Shawng, who was a leader at Jan Mai Kawng Refugee Camp, was arrested on June 17 by Myitkyina based MAS unit, police from No.1 police station,and the village head on the charge of involvement in therecent bombings which occurred in several areas of Myitkyina, case number (U) 122/2002.
According to his lawyer, after he was arrested MAS made attempts to force Brang Shawng to take responsibility for the bombings.
Five committee members, led by Rev. Lahpai Ja Naw from Jan Mai Kawng Baptist Church, submitted a letter to the Minister of Kachin State and other authorities stating that on July 6 they will conduct a peacefuldemonstration with around a thousand people to protest the arbitrary arrests occurring in refugee camps.
The protestersare calling for the unconditional release of Brang Shawng, the end of arbitrary arrests and torture of refugeesby government officials,the release the suspects within 24 hours if found not guilty in court, and the government’simproved protection of the camp refugees.
Brang Shawng is from the N’Pawn village, located on the road between Myitkyina and Laiza, in an area controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization. He has been living in a refugee camp for approximately one year since the fighting began.
Recently, the government-controlled media has been portraying Brang Shawng as the perpetrator of the bombings, while most locals believe he is innocent.