Victims’ Families Demand Burma Army Punish Alleged Murderer
By Lawi Weng & May Sitt Paing 17 March 2016
RANGOON — The families of two men from Mon State’s Ye Township have accused the Burma Army of failing to take action against an army captain who allegedly killed their loved ones.
The two ethnic Mon civilians, 48-year-old Nai Moe and 23-year-old Nai Chit Oo, from Kawzar sub-township, were allegedly shot and killed by Capt. Zaw Myo Thet from Light Infantry Battalion No. 280 on March 8.
“We do not know whether [the army] took action or not,” said Ashin Janaka, an ethnic Mon Buddhist monk, who is close to Nai Moe’s family. “[The army] took the captain back already. He is not here anymore.”
The local community wants the army to administer proper punishment. In cases where soldiers are accused of crimes, the army applies its own disciplinary process, which can be both opaque and lenient.
“If anyone with a gun can commit murder and get away with it, they could oppress us all,” said Ashin Janaka. “This was a human rights abuse.”
After the deaths, army generals donated money and rice, and forced the families to sign papers saying they had received the donations, he said.
The incident happened around midnight on March 8, when the two men walked to the Andaman Sea to go fishing. Nai Moe was shot first, five feet from the captain, accordin to Ashin Janaka, who added that when he collapsed, Nai Chit Oo attempted to run and was shot as well. He didn’t die immediately, and the captain proceeded to beat him and break his ribs, said the monk.
The captain threatened villagers by shooting his gun and wouldn’t allow family members to take Nai Chit Oo to the hospital, for fear of being charged, said Ashin Janaka. He later died on the way to the hospital.
The family told Nai Sawor Mon, program coordinator from the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM), that before Nai Chit Oo died, he told his family the captain beat him despite his innocence.
Kyaw Myint, a police officer from Kawzar sub-township, told The Irrawaddy the police couldn’t take action since the captain was under the army’s jurisdiction.
“We could charge him with Article 302 [of the Burmese Penal Code, covering murder], if [the army] brought him back,” said Kyaw Myint.
Kyaw Myint said the shooting may have been a mistake, because the captain had received a tip that there were gang members nearby, and he mistook the civilians for attackers.
The family members maintain it was no mistake.
Crimes committed by the Burma army in ethnic areas aren’t unusual. Human rights groups repeatedly press the army to try the cases in civilian, rather than military, courts. Civilians have no rights to information about charges, findings, or sentences in the military judicial system, which has led to a history of impunity.