Myanmar Defense Ministry Investigates Murder of Kachin IDP

By Lawi Weng 3 October 2019

Myanmar’s Ministry of Defense has begun investigating the murder of an ethnic Kachin woman killed in July in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township.

Myanmar military troops from Kutkai interviewed four members of a local village administration Thursday about the murder of Nan Htang, a 51-year-old internally displaced person (IDP), at her home on the night of July 4. According to the Truth Finding Committee, a group of Kachin community leaders pushing for justice for the victim, the army will meet with three of Nan Htang’s relatives Friday.

“The military’s strategic commander told us he has to send a report to the Myanmar Human Right Commission on Oct. 7,” said Truth Finding Committee spokesperson Daw Htang Din. “He also has to send a report to the Shan State government. That’s why he asked us to meet.”

Myanmar police officers from Hseni Township also interviewed local residents about the death of Nan Htang on Sept. 4.

Kachin community leaders have accused members of the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, of involvement in the killing. The Kachin leaders formed the Truth Finding Committee and wrote a letter asking the Myanmar Human Rights Commission to conduct an investigation soon after the murder.

The letter asked the Myanmar Human Rights Commission to interrogate members of the Myanmar military who came to the victim’s house on the night she was killed.

U Yu Lwin Aung, a member of the Myanmar Human Rights Commission, confirmed to The Irrawaddy that the commission had received the letter from Kachin leaders requesting the investigation.

“We sent their letter to the Ministry of Defense,” U Yu Lwin Aung said. “We heard that [the ministry] started an investigation into the case.”

Nan Htang’s sister-in-law told the Truth Finding Committee that on the night she was killed, two Tatmadaw soldiers reportedly came to buy tea leaf salad and borrow a solar panel from her at her home. Later, they returned to try to sell Nan Htang their cell phones. Around 8:30 p.m., they came back yet again to return the solar panel. She allegedly had about 2 million kyats (US$1,300) and some speculate that the killing may have been a robbery.

The Truth Finding Committee also claims that, after the killing, some soldiers had come to exchange money that belonged to Nan Htang with a Chinese woman in the village.

“We found some of her money at a money exchange run by a Chinese woman. The woman told us that she got it from soldiers,” said Daw Htang Din.

The soldiers wanted 5,000-kyat notes instead of small notes and came to exchange their bills twice, according to what the woman at the money exchange told Daw Htang Din.

“Those soldiers told [the woman at the money exchange] that they did not want to carry small banknotes as they have to travel on the frontline, so they wanted 5,000-kyat notes,” said Daw Htang Din. “If we look for the cause of her death, we will see that members of the Tatmadaw killed her.”