A leading land rights proponent in Hpa-an, who was also the local leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, was shot dead by unknown assailants outside his home in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Deputy-superintendent Thet Zin Oo of the Eindu village police station in Hpa-an District, said the NLD village chairman, Saw Johnny, was shot dead in front of his house at around midnight in the nearby village of Kawthinshu.
“We had a report about the shooting at around 1:50am [on 2 July] and went to inspect the scene. The victim’s body was found about 10ft away from the home entrance with five gunshot wounds – four in his back and one in the leg,” said the police officer.
Local police have opened a murder investigation following an information report filed by the victim’s mother-in-law.
Hpa-an-based reporter Pwint San, who was an acquaintance of Saw Johnny, told DVB that the NLD official was a known advocator of farmers’ rights and had assisted locals in several land grab cases.
“He often took charge in helping local people with their various issues and had made quite a few enemies for his activism. As we were close friends, I had warned him to be cautious, but having spent time in a rebel army in the past, he said it was not to worry about,” said Pwint San.
“Previously, he exposed irregularities in the sale of land plots owned by the Ministry of Cooperatives. He was also the leader of a group formed to provide assistance to residents in his village.”
A funeral for Saw Johnny was held on Friday, 3 July.