Kachin Community Demands Truth and Justice Five Years After Teachers’ Murder
By NETWORK MEDIA GROUP (NMG)
Monday, January 20, 2020
Family members of two Kachin volunteer schoolteachers who were raped and murdered five years ago in northern Shan State have demanded that locals and the authorities continue to pursue justice in the case, for which no perpetrators have been arrested.
Maran Lu Ra and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin were killed on January 19, 2015 in Kawng Hka village in Muse District. A memorial service was held at Jor Bum Mountain in Myitkyina, Kachin State this Sunday.
Dr. Hkalam Samson, the chairperson of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), said that it has been difficult to move forward in the case because witnesses have fearful of speaking out.
“We encourage local villagers in Kawng Hka village… If they tell the truth [about what happened], we can file a lawsuit in court. The village headman and the villagers are really afraid to tell the truth. That’s why we can’t do anything,” Dr. Hkalam Samson told NMG, adding that the respective authorities from the area also need to participate in the investigation.
San Lon, the sister of victim Maran Lu Ra, said that she remains unhappy with where the case lies now.
“Lu Ra and Hkawn Nan Tsin were raped and killed…. I want to tell Daw Suu to seek the truth in this murder case,” San Lon said, referring to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
Lu Bu, Tangbau Nan Tsin’s mother also wants answers.
“It’s already been five years. As a mother, I feel so upset because we cannot seek the truth. I want to urge all people to pray that we will have the truth one day,” she told NMG. “They were tortured and killed. I feel so upset for these two daughters. This incident occurred because someone did it. We want the truth to prevent this kind of incident in the future.”
The KBC has said that all evidence has been held by the police and no updates on the murders have been issued, despite efforts by the Shan State Kachin Lawyers Group, which has acted as a truth-seeking committee over the last two years.
“The lawyer network tried to talk with the commander of the military column in Lashio but they couldn’t ask him any questions. After that, the case lost momentum,” Dr. Hkalam Samson said. “The lawyer network also tried to question the commander of the military column through a third-party but the prosecutor dismissed it. Since the time, there has been no improvement.”
The Kachin Women’s Association – Thailand (KWAT) has repeatedly said that there must be an independent justice system to resolve human rights abuses that have occurred in northern Shan State, Kachin State and other ethnic regions.
“We want to demand that the NLD (National League for Democracy) government seek the truth in this case and for an independent justice system to investigate this case. To take legal action against perpetrators, there must be independent justice system and an investigation. A justice system that seeks the truth must make a determination about it,” KWAT spokesperson San Htoi, told NMG.
She added that KWAT has documented other cases similar to the murders in Kawng Hka in northern Shan State in their report released earlier this year.
“We have demanded that the Tamadaw to stop all military operations. Respective authorities must allow an independent investigation into this case. The investigation team must have full authority to investigate whoever is suspected, including the Tatmadaw,” San Htoi explained.
According to KBC, the truth-seeking committee demanded that the Shan State police investigate the commander and soldiers in the military column that stayed in the village when the rapes and murders occurred, but the committee has not been able to question any suspects.
The Shan State police have said that they looked into 10 villagers and 28 soldiers and took DNA samples as part of their investigation.
A state-run newspaper reported on January 29, 2015—just 10 days after the murders occurred—that the Tatmadaw would take action against anyone who accused its soldiers of committing such crimes