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Myanmar Journalist’s Death Spurs Call for Inquiry

Myanmar, also known as Burma
Myanmar, also known as Burma

Civil society and human rights groups in Myanmar, also known as Burma, are urging the government to fully investigate the death of a journalist while in military custody.

Aung Kyaw Naing, also known as Par Gyi, a Burmese-language freelance journalist, was arrested September 30 after crossing into Myanmar for a reporting trip from his home base in Mae Sot, Thailand.

Ye Aung of the Burma Former Political Prisoners Association told VOA's Burmese service that his group and other civil society organizations was demanding a thorough inquiry. The group asked authorities "to form a commission to investigate the killing," he said.

Aung Kyaw Naing was taken into custody after reporting on clashes between government troops and Karen ethnic fighters. Last week, the army announced he had been shot and killed by a guard while trying to escape. They added that he was working as an information officer for the Karen rebels, who have denied the allegation.

Authorities in the town of Kyaikmayaw have promised to conduct a full investigation.

Police Lieutenant Then Sein Win said local authorities first would need to secure permission to access the body, which has already been buried.

"We have to get permission from the judge and other senior officials," Then Sein Win said. "So we are just planning to exhume the body. But we won't do it without the consent of the remaining family members."

However, Aung Kyaw Naing's wife, Ma Thandar, said she would sue the police if they exhumed the body without her present as a witness.

The military and Karen rebels have engaged in sporadic clashes near the Thai border in recent months.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.