KNPP Mulls Army's Request to Question Alleged Witness to Executions

By Lawi Weng 15 February 2018

YANGON — The Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) says it is considering a request from the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, to question a member of the group’s armed wing who claims to have seen government troops execute four people in Karenni State in December.

The KNPP claims that Tatmadaw soldiers executed three of its fighters and a civilian when they raided the ethnic armed group’s base in Loikaw Township on Dec. 20. The Tatmadaw has claimed that the four were killed in a firefight during the raid but has formed a special commission to investigate the deaths and is seeking the alleged witness’ testimony.

“They want to hear from him. They want his testimony for their investigation,” said Khu Daniel, a member of the KNPP’s central committee.

“We will make a decision after we are able to meet with the government and the NRPC,” he added, referring to the government-run National Reconciliation and Peace Center

The KNPP says it has already asked the government and NRPC for a meeting to discuss the deaths and the broader peace process and was still waiting for a reply.

According to the KNPP, Maung Lar, a member of its armed wing, witnessed the executions and managed to escape.

At a press conference in Loikaw in late December, the KNPP played what it said was a recording of Maung Lar. The man in the recording says the Tatmadaw soldiers, after raiding the armed group’s base, told him and the other four to line up for a photo but started shooting them instead and that he only just managed to run away.

The KNPP and other local sources say the Tatmadaw has sent an investigating team from Naypyitaw to Loikaw three times already and met with people living near the scene of the alleged crime during its last visit earlier this month.

The team includes four members of the Tatmadaw’s top military court and a colonel from its Eastern Command base in Shan State.

“They told us they would investigate first, then take the case to court, then take action,” Khu Daniel said.

“The investigation team even told us that if they found rights violations they would take action according to the rule of law. They even gave us the example of how they took action against their soldiers in the Kachin case,” he said.

A military court sentenced six soldiers to 10 years in prison last month for killing three Kachin men from a camp for internally displaced people in Mansi Township.

The KNPP says it has asked the Tatmadaw for a joint investigation, but so far to no avail. Khu Daniel said the party was worried for Maung Lar’s safety if he were to meet with the Tatmadaw.

“He is the most important person as the eye witness, so we are worried he might disappear. We will let them see him when we feel the conditions for him are safe and secure,” he said.