The family of a Kachin girl allegedly shot dead by the Burmese army in Kachin State two years ago has called on the government to investigate her death.
Fourteen-year-old Ja Seng Ing sustained a fatal gunshot wound when she was reportedly shot by a Burmese soldier on her way home from school on 13 September 2012 in the jade-mining town of Hpakant.
The incident came at a time when the Burmese army was engaged in clashes with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the area.
The 14-year-old’s father, Brang Shawng, subsequently filed a complaint at the government-backed Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, demanding the army be held accountable for her death. The army, in response, asserted that she had been killed by shrapnel when the KIA remotely detonated a mine, and sued Brang Shawng under the Burma penal code Article 211 for lodging a false accusation.
Ja Seng Ing’s family held a press conference on 6 December in Rangoon calling for the government to establish a committee to investigate the circumstances of her death.
Mya Aye, a leader of the civil society group 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, said, “I feel that the army, when they recklessly shot this girl, did not just kill her but they also killed a part of Burma’s future – I am deeply saddened.”
According to military code, servicemen in the Burmese army traditionally can only be tried at military courts for crimes committed against the civilian population. However, there have been recent cases where soldiers have been tried at civilian courts for crimes against civilians outside of conflict. They are still exempt from punishment for crimes allegedly committed during skirmishes.