Kachin Group Says Its Investigation Could Reveal Killers of Teachers

By Lawi Weng 3 April 2015

RANGOON — The Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) said it has carried out an independent investigation into the killing of two ethnic Kachin schoolteachers in northern Shan State in January and found two people who could help reveal the identity of the killers.

KBC said it took the initiative because a police investigation into the double murder has so far yielded no suspects and raised fears among the Kachin community that possible involvement of government soldiers is being covered up.

“We are still carrying out an investigation into it, but we found some people who we think could tell the truth. In the case of the killing, they knew about it, but not as an eye witnesses,” said Zau Ra, a KBC spokesperson based in Muse, a town on the Burma-China border.

Zau Ra declined to elaborate when asked about further details of the investigation results, saying KBC’s lawyer had advised him not to discuss it. He added that KBC would discuss the results with Shan State police when it had completed its investigation.

“We are still doing more investigation in order to get more evidence,” he said. “KBC interviewed all villagers for the investigation. Our KBC may also interview some Burmese Army soldiers who were in the village during the time that the schoolteachers were killed.”

KBC has been closely involved with local communities and authorities following the Jan. 20 killings of the two young women, who had been working for KBC in Kutkai Township as primary school teachers.

Col. San Lwin, who heads Taunggyi Police Station, told The Irrawaddy the police were continuing their investigation. Asked about the KBC investigation, he said, “We cannot arrest anyone on accusations of murder unless there is strong evidence.”

“We have done an investigation among the villagers, but we continue to check more,” San Lwin said.

Last month, the investigation, which is being carried out by a joint team of police, township authorities and members of the Burma Army, produced a group of suspects comprising both civilian villagers and soldiers. Results of post-mortem medical examinations on the victims and potential matches from DNA samples taken from the suspects have not been disclosed.

KBC and the wider Kachin community have voiced concern over the lack of a fair and independent investigation into the killings, which they believe are linked to members of the Burma Army’s Light Infantry Battalion 503 that was sent to the area shortly before the murders.

The army remains powerful in Burma and has been accused in the past of influencing local authorities and the judicial system in order to cover up crimes by its soldiers against ethnic minority civilians.