Body of detained Myanmar poet returned to family ‘with tongue damaged and organs removed’

Myanmar’s anti-coup movement has been left reeling after the death of a high-profile poet following his arrest by junta forces at the weekend.

Khet Thi, 45, who penned poetry in an act of resistance to military rule, died in detention overnight after being interrogated on Saturday by armed soldiers in the central town of Shwebo.

His grieving family said his body was returned with organs removed.

The Times also reported his tongue and teeth had been damaged, reportedly by boiling water or a chemical poured into his mouth.

Khet Thi had been an engineer before quitting his job in 2012 to focus on his poetry and to support himself by making and selling ice-cream and cakes.

“I don’t want to be a hero, I don’t want to be a martyr, I don’t want to be a weakling, I don’t want to be a fool,” he wrote two weeks after the coup.

“I don’t want to support injustice. If I have only a minute to live, I want my conscience to be clean for that minute.”

He also recently wrote: “They shoot in the head, but they don’t know the revolution is in the heart.”

His wife Chaw Su told BBC Burmese language news that they had both been detained on Saturday before her husband was taken separately to an interrogation centre.

She said she was called on Sunday to a hospital in the central city of Monywa.

“I thought it was just for a broken arm or something,” she said. “But when I arrived here, he was at the morgue and his internal organs were taken out.”

Chaw Su, who maintained her husband had been in good health, said the hospital had told her he had a heart problem.

She did not say how she knew his organs had been removed and the hospital and the military have not commented on his family’s version of events. The Telegraph has not been able to independently verify her claim.

There have been previous allegations from junta opponents that organs have been stolen from the bodies of dead protesters, however. It is not known why they might be removing them.

Khet Thi is at least the third poet to die during protests since the February 1 coup that ousted the civilian government and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

A judge on Monday ordered Suu Kyi to appear in person in court for the first time on May 24, her lawyer said, after weeks of delays in her case.

Poets and their words of dissent have traditionally assumed high profile roles during past revolutions and unrest in the Southeast Asian nation, and several poets have been arrested during the current protest movement.

Khet Thi was a friend of K Za Win, 39, a poet who was shot dead during a protest in Monywa in early March.

At that time, Khet Thi told VICE News: “It’s just like [K Za Win] posted on his Facebook page: ‘Though I have different views than you, I’ll lay down my life for you all’.

“If necessary, we too have decided to do the same as him.”

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