Lawi Weng
RANGOON — A memorial has been held in downtown Rangoon for two Kachin women found murdered in the northern Shan State village of Kaung Kha earlier this week. Maran Lu Ra and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin, two young teachers from Myitkyina, were found dead on Tuesday in the room they shared on the grounds of the local Kachin Baptist Church school. The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported on Friday that the women had suffered stab wounds and head injuries, and a source from the hospital in Muse where the victims were sent for post-mortem analysis said the pair had been raped—a report yet to be confirmed by an official release of the autopsy results. According to Amnesty International, soldiers from the 88th Battalion’s 503rd Infantry Division were stationed in the village on the night the attack occurred. Kaung Kha villagers have laid blame for the attack at the feet of the Burma Army. In emotional scenes, about 50 rights activists and members of the Kachin community, dressed in black, gathered at Maha Bandoola Garden Park on Friday morning to lay flowers at the Victory Monument and denounce the murders. “Over many decades, the Burma Army has committed crimes against humanity through its treatment of ethnic women,” Khin Ohmar, the coordinator of Burma Partnership, told mourners. “The Burma Army has their own code of conduct which they need to respect. The people who lead the army need to tell their soldiers to stop raping ethnic women.” [irrawaddy_gallery] Mar Mar Cho, coordination officer of the Women’s Organizations Network, echoed Khin Ohmar’s comments at the memorial. “We have asked many times for the government to bring justice to those who rape women, but they never take action against their soldiers.” The Burma Army has denied its soldiers are responsible for the accusations, after sending an investigation team to the area on Wednesday. State media reported on Friday that an investigation into the deaths is ongoing. “For our government, such a brutal incident is unacceptable,” presidential spokesman Ye Htut told The Irrawaddy. “But, it is too early to say who was involved in the crime as we are still investigating.” The Kaung Kha case is the latest incident in which the Burma Army has been scrutinized over allegations of sexual violence. A report released last year by the Women’s League of Burma documented 104 cases of sexual violence against women between the 2010 elections and Jan. 2014, the majority of which occurred in tandem with military offensives. A funeral is being held in Myitkyina today for the two women.

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