Body of Myanmar poet who wrote of ‘revolution in the heart’ returned to family with organs missing

Rights groups say 780 people have died in anti-coup protests since military took over country on 1 February

Anti-coup protest Downtown in Yangon, Myanmar

A poet in Myanmar who wrote against the ruling military establishment, Khet Thi, died in detention on Sunday and was returned to his family with organs missing, it has been claimed.

According to his wife, Chaw Su, both of them were taken for interrogation by armed soldiers and police on Saturday in the central town of Shwebo in the Sagaing region, which is considered a centre of resistance to the coup.

“I was interrogated. So was he. They said he was at the interrogation centre. But he didn’t come back, only his body. They called me in the morning and told me to meet him at the hospital in Monywa,” Chaw Su told BBC News. Monywa is a town that is about 100kms away by road.

“I thought it was just for a broken arm or something ... But when I arrived here, he was at the morgue and his internal organs were taken out,” she said, though she did not specify how she knew her husband’s organs were removed.

She said that she was informed at the hospital about her husband having a heart problem. She says she did not even read the death certificate that was presented, as she was sure it would not be true.

On 1 February, Myanmar’s military replaced the democratically-elected government in a coup and arrested the top leaders of the ruling National League for Democracy party, including Aung San Suu Kyi. The junta has since brought a range of criminal charges against them.

In the months since, people from across Myanmar have been hitting the streets in protests against the military despite a violent crackdown and repeated warnings by the police.

The poet, whose age according to his Facebook page was 45, had penned anti-military poetry that included the line: “They shoot in the head, but they don’t know the revolution is in the heart.”

Khet Thi was an engineer before he quit his job in 2012 to focus on his poetry. He used to earn money by making and selling ice cream and cakes.

He had recently written that: “My people are being shot and I can only throw back poems. But when you are sure your voice is not enough, then you need to choose a gun carefully. I will shoot.”

Many celebrities and cultural figures in Myanmar have openly supported the protests and Khet Thi was the third poet to die since the coup. Another poet, one of Khet Thi’s friends 39-year-old K Za Win, was shot dead during a protest in Monywa in early March.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), an activist group, 780 people have killed since the coup while over 3,800 are still in detention.

Additional reporting by agencies

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