Lahtaw Brang Shawng who was arrested by Burmese authorities in Jan Mai Kawng Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp under suspicion of being part of a bombing operation and having contact with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) on June 17 is being forced to take responsibility even though many people say he’s innocent.
A local court refused to give a verdict on June 28 after a recording device was found strapped to Brang Shawng’s waist hidden under his shirt. The judge referred the case to a higher court.
But according to Brang Shawng’s lawyer Ma Hka, his client’s case was not referred. Instead Brang Shawng was tried again the next day (June 29) where he was successfully convicted for planting several bombs.
Brang Shawng has been sent to the Myitkyina Detention Centre.
Ma Hka claims his client was forced to confess to a crime he didn't do.
“Most likely Brang Shawng confessed to the charges after being tortured for weeks while under arrest. They dismissed the bombing charges on June 28 and the next day the court convicted him.”
Lahtaw Brang Shawng was arrested by military intelligence and police officers at night at Kachin Baptist Church in Jan Mai Kawng IDPs Camp as a bombing suspect.
Later he was brought back to the camp in handcuffs where Brang Shawng’s family and Kachin community leaders witnessed several injuries on his body suggesting he was being tortured. After the police took him back to the station.
On July 6, over a thousand Myitkyina residents led by pastors from Kachin Baptists Church took part in one of the largest peaceful demonstrations in Kachin state demanding the release of Brang Sawng and other IDPs arrested under Act 17/1, which forbids any contact with an illegal association.
Protesters say they will continue organizing demonstrations until Brang Sawng and other innocent IDPs are released.