MNHRC calls for action in Kachin teachers’ case
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.