The protestors claimed the journalist was murdered and are calling for legal action against the murderers.
Ko Aung Kyaw Naing went missing in Mon State one month ago while covering the conflict between government forces and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army.
The 88-Generation students group led by U Min Ko Naing, U Ko Ko Gyi, and U Mya Aye and political activists from more than 40 organizations jointly organized the protest.
The demonstrators claimed there were strong suspicions of wrongdoing surrounding the case including concerns that the army did not get permission from a court to arrest Ko Aung Kyaw Naing, they committed the crime illegally, they delayed reporting the death for two weeks, and they improperly disposed of the body.
A Ministry of Defence report given out on October 23 claims Ko Aung Kyaw Naing was shot dead October 4 while he was trying to seize a gun from a soldier. They claimed he was an information officer of the Klohtoobaw Karen Organization, a wing of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army.
U Ko Ko Gyi, an 88-Generation student leader, said during the protest, “There is no other human rights violations more notorious and more serious than this. According to the law, they need to get permission from a court to detain a person for more than 24 hours. But the army brazenly violated the law.”
U Ko Ko Gyi said that they have urged the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and parliament to help in resolving the problem.
Democratic Karen Benevolent Army headquarters Tactical Commander Colonel Saw Tun Tun told Mizzima that Ko Aung Kyaw Naing did not have any link to any wing of his army.
Ma Thandar, Ko Aung Kyaw Naing’s wife, said in a press conference held in Yangon on October 21 that while she was filing a lawsuit at Kyaikmayaw Police Station over her missing husband, a police corporal told her that he had seen Ko Aung Kyaw Naing’s body covered with injuries.
Ma Thandar, brought charges against Army Captain San Min Aung of the 208 Light Infantry Battalion who she alleged was involved in her husband’s arrest, for allegedly destroying the body of her husband, torturing and killing him and arresting him illegally. However, the police officer in charge dismissed the charges against the army captain, claiming he had been ordered to do so by his superiors, Ma Thandar told Mizzima.
Ma Thandar said: “Although they said they will protect [the citizens] in accordance with the laws, why did the police station not allow me to bring charges? If I cannot file the charges here, I will file the charges at the District and the Region [Mon State] level courts.
According to the current 2008 Constitution, defence service personnel can only be tried in military courts. U Min Ko Naing pointed out that this means army personnel can bully civilians and then the army will protect its own personnel if a case is brought to court.
U Ko Ko Gyi said that the army needs to be reformed. If the army fails to change their action and behaviour, it will have to confront the citizens, he said.
Forty-six political groups including the 88-Generation Peace and Open Society issued a joint statement urging the authorities to form a commission of investigation, including independent experts, to probe the Ko Aung Kyaw Naing case.
The Myanmar Press Council (Interim) on October 26 issued a statement saying that Ko Aung Kyaw Naing should receive all the rights offered by the law because he is a Myanmar citizen.
Moreover, their statement urges the authorities to cooperate with the news media in order that the media can cover the case.
Meanwhile, journalists in Mon State and Kayin State plan to stage a protest to urge the government to resolve the murder case and to take legal action against the army personnel in Mon State who allegedly committed the crime.