Two pro-democracy activists died and three others were seriously injured in Myanmar when they jumped from a building in Yangon to avoid capture by junta authorities, witnesses said Wednesday, while the father of one of those killed said he was told his son survived the impact and was beaten to death by police.
Ye Min Oo and a woman, Wai Wai Myint, also called Pan Thee, lost their lives Tuesday night when they and three friends jumped from the roof of a building as junta forces stormed their apartment in Botahtaung township in Myanmarâ€™s largest city.
The three who survived the jumpâ€”Wai Phyo Aung, Thiha Kaung Set, and Poe Kyaw Kyawâ€”were arrested by police and taken with the bodies of those killed to a military hospital in Mingaladon township in northern Yangon.
Tin Zawâ€”the father of Ye Min Oo, who died Tuesdayâ€”said he was told by witnesses that his son was still alive after the fall.
“Immediately after the fall, my son was dying, not dead. Then police officers beat them up, and my son died after the beating,â€ he told RFA in an exclusive interview. Â â€œI got that information from witnesses and residents.â€
A neighborhood resident told RFA on Wednesday that two of those who jumped called out three or four times for water and then died, while the other three remained motionless after they hit the ground.
â€œBecause they fell from a height, they must have broken their limbs,â€ he said.
The neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity for safety reasons, told RFA the fleeling activists apparently got trapped on the rooftops of the old buildings.
â€œYou could climb up to the roof, and the kids must have thought they could run across the rooftops. But there were only four buildings you could run across like that,â€ he said.
â€œThere was a five-storey building blocking their path on one side and an eight-storey building on the other, and they must have run this way and that, and finally when they couldnâ€™t escape they must have jumped,â€ he said.
Dead and injured taken to hospital
Military forces ordered community service workers to take both the two who died and the three survivors to a 1,000-bed military hospital in Mingaladon, a member of the Lin Let Social Welfare Association told RFA.
â€œThe two who died were dead when we got there,â€ the charity worker said.
â€œWe were sure they were dead because we made all the necessary checks required to see if they were still alive,â€ she said. â€œOne of the injured had a broken leg, and another had a head injury and had to be taken to the hospitalâ€™s neurology center.â€
Soe Myat Thu, the husband of 29-year-old Wai Wai Myint, said he hopes the military will give him back his wifeâ€™s body so that he can bury her according to her own request.
â€œIâ€™m trying to get my wifeâ€™s body back, but we are under the rule of a military coup, so what can I do?â€ he asked. â€œIf they refuse to release her body, there is nothing we can do about it.â€
â€œShe always said, â€˜Donâ€™t cremate my body when I die. Please bury me in a grave,â€™ and I want to fulfill that last wish. I donâ€™t care about anything else,â€ he said.
A police report now circulating on social media says the raid on the activistsâ€™ apartment was carried out by a team led by Tactical Commander Col. Soe Tun of the ruling Military Council, while a military press release on Wednesday confirmed that two had been killed and three injured in the operation, with hand grenades and bomb-making materials recovered during the raid.
An independent scout
Ye Min Oo, who was born in 1994, was not connected with Myanmarâ€™s shadow National Unity Government (NUG), Peopleâ€™s Defense Force (PDF), or any other formally organized group, his father said.
Instead, he had worked independently with friends in a scouting unit gathering intelligence on pro-junta informers and other military targets, Tin Zaw said.
â€œHe never expressed any political opinions, but after the February coup, he became actively involved in anti-coup protests, and although I did not forbid this as a parent, I warned him to be mindful and careful,â€ he said.
â€œMy son stood and fought for his beliefs, and now he has fallen in the fight,â€ he said.
Tin Zaw said Ye Min Ooâ€™s fate was the outcome of the military overthrow of the countryâ€™s democratically elected government on unfounded claims of voter fraud in the countryâ€™s November 2020 election.
The junta has yet to provide evidence of its claims and has violently suppressed nationwide demonstrations calling for a return to civilian rule. According to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 948 civilians were killed by police and soldiers between Feb. 1 and Aug. 10.
â€œThese kids were pushed into the struggle by the Feb. 1 coup. They were pure and innocent youths. I am very proud of my son,â€ Tin Zaw said.
Reported by Nayrein Kyaw for RFAâ€™s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Richard Finney.