Burma Army Soldier Sentenced to Two Years over Student’s Death

By Nyein Nyein 6 January 2017

A Burma Army private was handed down a two-year jail sentence with hard labor at Kachin State’s Myitkyina military court on Thursday over the death of unarmed university student Gum Seng Awng in June last year.

The 19-year-old student was shot dead by Pvt. Maung Maung in Myitkyina on June 20, 2016 after an altercation between soldiers guarding Bala Min Htin Bridge and a group of Kachin men, prompting protests in Kachin State and Rangoon.

Two days later the ministry of defense officially declared the cause of death a “misfire” but pledged to take action in accordance with military procedures.

The student’s family testified at the military court on Nov. 29 last year and were called to hear the military court’s judgment on Thursday evening.

“There is no justice for [Gum Seng Awng] because we lost him forever, while the private only received punishment for causing someone’s death and expulsion from the military,” Zau Jat who initiated the Justice for Gum Seng Awng campaign told The Irrawaddy.

“We are consulting legal experts to seek justice for him through the public court,” Zau Jat added.

A lawyer close to the family in Myitkyina—who spoke on condition of anonymity—said that the family would file further complaints in accordance with the law, as the Gum Seng Awng case was filed at the Myitkyina police station on the night of his death.

“Usually the charge for causing death should be up to seven years in prison but this [sentence] is very low,” he said.  “We think it is related to politics,” he added, in reference to the current conflicts between the Tatmadaw and the Kachin Independence Army in the north.

The military could have transferred the case to a public court, but had not had done so, the lawyer said.