Kachin church ‘powerless’ to investigate teachers’ murders

Kachin church ‘powerless’ to investigate teachers’ murders

The Kachin Baptist Church (KBC) in Muse has complained to President Thein Sein that it is powerless to properly investigate the brutal rape and murder of two young female teachers in the district.

Maran Lu Ra, 20, and Tangbau Hkwan Nan Tsin, 21, were founded dead in their hostel in the village of Kawng Hka on 19 January. They had been recruited by the Kachin Christian church and were working as volunteer teachers at the time.

Soldiers of the Burmese army’s 503rd Light Infantry Battalion, which had temporarily stationed in the village at the time of the incident, have been widely accused of the crimes.

In a letter to the president on 2 July, the KBC stressed the challenges it has faced since launching an independent investigation into the murders, complaining that it has no mandate to summon government or military officials for questioning.

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“For example, we would like to find out the identities of the soldiers and drivers whom the villagers saw leaving the scene in trucks,” said Rev. Samson Hkalam, general-secretary of the KBC. “The police promised to help us, but nothing has been done.”

He also noted that inconsistencies were noted in the accounts provided by the forensic doctor.

Rev. Samson called for the formation of an independent investigation body made up of legal experts, civil society members and local religious leaders, and he called for that body to be given the authority to freely interview civilians, police officers, military personnel and government officials, as well as to verify the authenticity of DNA test results and other evidence.

He said the KBC has sent copies of the letter to the two vice-presidents; the commander-in-chief; the Ministry of Home Affairs; parliament’s Rule of Law and Tranquillity Committee; the regional governments of Kachin and Shan states; the Kachin Independence Army; and the Burmese army’s North and Northeast Regional Military Commands.

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