MNHRC calls for ac­tion in Kachin teach­ers’ case

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - YE MON yeemon­tun@mm­times.com

The Myan­mar Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion has urged a re­view of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the murders of two Kachin teach­ers last year, as progress has been slug­gish and no per­pe­tra­tors have yet been charged.

AS the Tat­madaw launches a rare court mar­tial against sol­diers in­volved in killing civil­ians in Shan State, the Myan­mar Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion is urg­ing a re­view of another mur­der case, that of two Kachin teach­ers killed last year.

The two vol­un­teers were raped and mur­dered in Muse town­ship, north­ern Shan State, where they were teach­ing chil­dren at Kaung Khar vil­lage whose education had been dis­rupted by fight­ing. The killers have never been brought to jus­tice. Lo­cal NGOs blamed the Tat­madaw for de­rail­ing the in­ves­tiga­tive and le­gal process in or­der to avoid cul­pa­bil­ity for crimes against the eth­nic mi­nor­ity women.

The na­tional hu­man rights com­mis­sion sent a let­ter to the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs re­quest­ing a trial of the sus­pects in a civil­ian court, ac­cord­ing to a July 25 state­ment.

The in­ves­ti­gat­ing po­lice nar­rowed the sus­pects down to a Ba­mar cou­ple, aged 44 and 41, who lived in Kaung Khar vil­lage but have since dis­ap­peared. Two other vil­lagers were also sus­pected of be­ing ac­com­plices in the case. Many be­lieve the lo­cals were scape­goated to pro­tect the true per­pe­tra­tors.

The Kachin Bap­tist Con­ven­tion (KBC) has long ar­gued that ev­i­dence points to the in­volve­ment of the com­man­der and sol­diers of the 503rd Light In­fantry Reg­i­ment. The sol­diers had es­tab­lished a tem­po­rary base in Khaung Khar vil­lage, about 100 me­tres (330 feet) from where the in­ci­dent oc­curred, two days be­fore the two teach­ers were found dead. An army-is­sue belt and boot-prints were al­legedly found at the scene of the crime.

U Sit Myaing, vice chair of the MNHRC, said the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs has not re­sponded to the re­quest yet, and ex­pressed disappointment that the le­gal pro­ceed­ings have dragged on for so long with­out progress.

“The au­thor­i­ties told us that they can­not ar­rest the sus­pects be­cause they are in an eth­nic armed group’s ter­ri­tory. There is no rule of law there, so they say it will be dif­fi­cult to ar­rest them,” he said.

The KBC sub­mit­ted a let­ter in June ask­ing Pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw to take up the case, ar­gu­ing that the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims should not be made to wait for jus­tice any longer.

Rev­erend Sam­son Hkalam, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the KBC, said in June that the con­ven­tion plans on su­ing the com­man­der and sol­diers of the 503rd Light In­fantry Reg­i­ment. In May, the Lashio po­lice in­ter­viewed the head of the sus­pected mil­i­tary col­umn, but did not al­low ac­tivists, in­di­vid­u­als or or­gan­i­sa­tions to be present dur­ing the ques­tion­ing. The re­sults of the in­ter­ro­ga­tion were not made pun­lic.

The KBC said it has long ap­plied pres­sure to Muse po­lice and the North­east Re­gional Com­mand for per­mis­sion to in­ter­view the head of the mil­i­tary col­umn, Ma­jor Aung Phyo Myint. The re­quest was re­peat­edly de­nied.

Muse town­ship Po­lice Ma­jor Soe Than said the KBC has al­ready been in­formed that the in­ves­ti­gat­ing au­thor­i­ties wish to ques­tion the four vil­lagers sus­pected in the case, but are blocked from do­ing so be­cause they have taken refuge in KIO-con­trolled ter­ri­tory.

The two fe­male vol­un­teers, Maran Lu Ra, 20, and Tang­bau Hk­wan Nan Tsin, 21, were work­ing for the KBC in Kaung Khar vil­lage teach­ing refugee chil­dren. On Jan­uary 19, 2015, their naked bod­ies were found with stab wounds and head in­juries af­ter vil­lagers re­ported hear­ing screams in the night.

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