Testimony in Double Rape-Murder of Kachin Teachers Faces Obstacles

By Lawi Weng 18 May 2016

RANGOON — The testimony of several senior army officers implicated in the double rape-murder of two Kachin teachers did not proceed as planned on Wednesday, sources say.

Three officers, including Capt. Min Twin and Maj Aung Phyo Myint, arrived at a police station in Shan State’s Lashio Township at around 10 a.m. to testify. But Kachin community leaders were surprised to discover that only police officers could directly question the soldiers.

“The army officers had told us that we could start our questioning. But once we tried to do this, they told us that we couldn’t. Only police officers could. They would only let us write our questions down on paper for the police officers to ask,” said Zau Raw, a leader from the Kachin Baptist Convention, an organization investigating the case.

“We [Kachin community leaders] wanted to ask our questions directly—one-by-one and to each of the three officers testifying. But the police wouldn’t allow it. So we told them that we wouldn’t proceed if this was how the questioning was going to be done,” Zau Raw added.

The police reportedly told the community leaders that they had to apply for permission from the Ministry of Defense and from the President in order to question military officers directly.

Some 40 army officers were asked by the Kachin Baptist Convention to provide testimony in the case, but the Burma Army—which usually prefers to seek justice through military tribunals—only allowed three of its officers to be questioned.

The bodies of the two ethnic Kachin teachers—Maran Lu Ra and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin, both 20 years old—were found dead on Jan. 20 last year in northern Shan State’s Kaung Kha village. According to villagers, the area had recently been occupied by government forces, leading Kachin community leaders to suspect that members of Burma Army were involved in the murders.