Myanmar’s military regime has arrested a five-year-old girl, making her the country’s youngest known political prisoner.
Su Htet Waing was forced to endure stress positions during more than two weeks in detention, according to her father.
Su Htet Waing was arrested after junta security forces failed to locate her father, Soe Htay, a local activist who had led demonstrations in Mogok city against the junta following its Feb. 01 takeover of Myanmar’s democratically elected government.
Soe Htay had already gone into hiding with his two sons, and when authorities failed to find him, they arrested his wife Nan Kyi Kyi Khine and their two daughters, including the five years old instead.
Arresting relatives of wanted protesters has been a common practice.
According to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), the military has killed 898 people and arrested 5,127 in connection with the anti-junta protests.
Of those, 2,269—including Su Htet Waing—were freed from prisons across the country as part of a general amnesty on June 30, although observers say the release was little more than a stunt by the military to gain international recognition.
Soe Htay, who was reunited with Su Htet Waing and remains in hiding, recently told RFA’s Myanmar Service that his daughter was left “traumatized” because of the poor treatment she was subjected to during her 18 days in detention.
He said Su Htet Waing told him that she and others were regularly forced to assume the “ponzan” posture—a half-sitting, half-standing stress position—during roll call, and that she “hated the people” who ordered her to do it.
Su Htet Waing “knows nothing about politics” and had only called for the release of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained along with several other party officials shortly after the military takeover, Soe Htay said.
“She doesn’t understand the politics we were discussing,” the NLD member and leader of the Mogok Township Peace and Open Society told RFA.
Soe Htay said he recently learned from staff at the Mogok Prison that his older daughter is enduring “serious health problems” while she remains in detention. He said that he has had no direct contact with his family members since the day of their arrest.
“My eldest daughter was on medication, suffering from rheumatism when she was arrested. On the day of her arrest, she was taken away with the only clothing she had on, and she didn’t have any of her medicine,” he said.
“She had to kneel down, handcuffed, on the concrete floor for two or three hours during questioning … and now she is in critical condition, according to what a friend in the prison told me.”
Attempts by RFA to contact junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun for comment on the arrest of SoeHtay’s family members went unanswered Friday. (Source: RFA)