Teachers’ deaths: Defence Ministry issues legal action warning
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]