Teach­ers’ deaths: De­fence Min­istry is­sues legal ac­tion warn­ing

Mizzima Business Weekly - - NEWS -

The De­fence Min­istry has warned it will take legal ac­tion against any­body who al­leges that sol­diers were in­volved in the rape and mur­der of two Kachin teach­ers in Shan State last month.

The warn­ing, pub­lished in the mil­i­tary-run Myawaddy daily news­pa­per on Jan­uary 28, said po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case and a pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed that the Tat­madaw was not in­volved in the mur­ders.

The warn­ing fol­lows me­dia re­ports and claims by non-gov­ern­ment groups con­cern­ing the deaths of Ma Tang­bau Hkawn Nan Zing, 21, and Ma Maran Lu Ra, 20. Their bod­ies were found on the morn­ing of Jan­uary 20 in Kawng Hka vil­lage in Shan State where they worked as vol­un­teer teach­ers with the Kachin Bap­tist Con­ven­tion.

The De­fence Min­istry said po­lice had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case since Jan­uary 20 and those un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in- cluded a group of sol­diers who had been camped about 500 me­tres from where the crime oc­curred.

The sol­diers had been in­structed to re­main in the area to co­op­er­ate with po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors, to whom they had pro­vided hair sam­ples for DNA testing, the state­ment said.

The pre­lim­i­nary po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the find­ings of a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mit­tee had showed that sol­diers were un­likely to have com­mit­ted the crime, it said.

There have been mixed re­sponses to the warn­ing from civil so­ci­ety groups and me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Daw Khun Ja from the Kachin Peace Net­work told Mizzima that a “re­li­able” in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mis­sion has not been formed.

“Only of­fi­cials of the Home Af­fairs Min­istry con­tinue han­dling the case and we can­not ac­cept how they are pro­ceed- ing,” she said, adding that this was why al­le­ga­tions had been made that were based on opin­ions.

Myan­mar Jour­nal­ist Net­work gen­eral sec­re­tary U Myint Kyaw told Mizzima that in­for­ma­tion in me­dia re­ports may some­times be wrong.

“When peo­ple ex­press their own opin­ions, news me­dia may quote those sources, but what the sources say does not rep­re­sent the me­dia's opin­ion,” U Myint Kyaw said.

“Some­times, we try to ask the [Kachin] side, and some­times we try to ask the side which has been ac­cused. And as long as we write news by fol­low­ing me­dia eth­nics, they can­not al­lege we are destroying their public im­age,” he said.

“But if news me­dia make al­le­ga­tions voic­ing an opin­ion in an ar­ti­cle or ed­i­to­rial, prob­lems can arise.” [Yu Wai]

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