Myanmar Soldiers Sentenced to 20 Years After Civilian Killings

By Lawi Weng 6 September 2019

Two members of the Myanmar army will soon be prosecuted in civilian court for the killing of seven civilians in Kyainseikgyi, Karen State, according to local sources. A military court already sentenced the two soldiers to 20 years in prison in July for crimes related to the killings.

The seven civilians, including three children, were killed on April 5 in Anankwin Village, Kyainseikgyi Township.

“The military court charged the soldiers with two crimes: one was that they tried to run away from the battalion and another was that they took guns with them when they tried to run away,” said army spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun. “Our court has sentenced them to 20 years in prison for the two cases.”

The Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar army is known, has now transferred the two soldiers to the civilian court where they will face further charges for the killings, according to the army spokesperson.

“We transferred the case to the police in the Three Pagodas Pass already. The soldiers will have to face another punishment for killing civilians,” said Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun. “The Tatmadaw maintained transparency in these cases.”

He added that the army will not transfer soldiers to civilian court if a killing occurs on the frontlines of battle and that the killings in Kyainseikgyi happened away from the frontline.

The incident occurred on April 5 when the two soldiers reportedly asked the victims and their family members to let them use a motorbike but the family refused. The two soldiers apparently arrived after midnight and killed the seven civilians before they took the motorbike and drove away.

The two alleged perpetrators have been detained in Mawlamyine Prison but a police officer from Three Pagodas Pass told the family that police will bring the two soldiers to the civilian court in Kawkareik Township, Karen State to be prosecuted.

The family work as mechanics, repairing motorbikes and cars. The wife of one of those killed was wounded in the attack and has been unable to work, according to U Than Shwe, a father in the family. The family is Muslim and has lived in the area for a long time.

“My family members were killed already. I want to say to the government that they should not abandon our family because I am an old man and I have to work for others who no longer have their fathers,” he said.

According to U Than Shwe, the Tatmadaw at first told the family they would receive 5 million kyats (US$3,200) in compensation but they have only been given half that amount.

U Than Shwe told Karen News on Sept. 4 that he wanted to seek justice for his family members who were killed. He said that his family has not had a chance to see the alleged perpetrators but the army told them they detained two suspects.

The victims lived near an area in Anankwin village controlled by Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 339. One of the soldiers convicted by the military court was from LIB 339 and was arrested on the day of the incident. The other served with LIB 275, a frontline unit, and was arrested on April 6.