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Rangoon photographer ‘was tortured’

A man arrested along with his father for photographing the aftermath of the deadly Rangoon bombings on 15 April has been tortured and denied food, his mother said.

Rangoon-based Sithu Zeya, and his 55-year-old graphic designer father, Maung Maung Zeya, were arrested by government officials shortly after three grenades exploded during the ‘Thingyan’ water festival celebrations last month, and are being held in separate Rangoon police stations.

The wife of Maung Maung Zeya told DVB that she was yesterday allowed to visit their son for the first time since he was arrested.

“[Sithu Zeya] was arrested for taking some photos and video footage of the scene,” Yee Yee Tint said.  “He was denied food for the first two days of the five-day interrogation. He also said was beaten twice during the interrogation and his ear has been ringing since.”

He has been charged under the Unlawful Associations Act and is due to appear at Mingalar Taung Nyunt township court in Rangoon on 18 May. His family were told that Sithu Zeya’s laptop and other belongings seized when he was arrested would be returned, although this is yet to happen.

His father is being held in Bahan township police station in Rangoon and will appear in court on 17 May. Yee Yee Tint said that he faces three different charges, while the family has asked for assistance from legal expert Aung Thein.

“I don’t fully understand their situation but the Burma police chief [Khin Yi] during his press conference [on 6 May] said that they were arrested for taking video footage of the incident,” she said. “I am quite sad that [the authorities] let the bombers remain at large but detained people for just taking video footage.”

Nine people died in the incident, which was the worst attack in Rangoon since 2005. It preceded a number of other bombings around Burma, focused mainly on controversial hydropower projects.

Police have arrested one suspect for the Rangoon attack who belongs to the exiled opposition group the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors, who rose to prominence in 1999 after raiding the Burmese embassy in Bangkok and holding 89 people hostage.


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