Army refuses to cooperate in murdered teachers investigation

Army refuses to cooperate in murdered teachers investigation

The military is refusing to cooperate in the investigation into the rape and murder of two Kachin teachers in northern Shan State

Maran Lu Ra, 20, and Tangbau Hkwan Nan Tsin, 21, were found dead in their shared room on 19 January 2015. They were volunteer teachers at the Kawng Hka village church school, in Muse Township.

The Kachin Baptist Church (KBC),  who are leading the investigation, have repeatedly requested the army allow them to question soldiers stationed in the village on the night of the incident, including Maj. Aung Phyo Myint. The military has consistently refused.

The Burmese army previously set the date for KBC interviews on 18 May, but later cancelled the arrangement. It then dictated the conditions of the investigation – saying the KBC would no longer be permitted to directly question officers.

“The army is now saying we must send our questions ahead for approval by the Home Affairs and Defence ministries, and the police investigators will be doing the questioning while we are to just sit at the table and listen,” said KBC’s lawyer, Brian Dee.

Brian Dee said they would prefer to meet with all the servicemen at the village on the night of the murder, adding: “We find it unacceptable that the army is only allowing us to interview three officers.”

A request for the army to relax their conditions has been made by the KBC.

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“We will not provide the questions in advance or via a third party – we would prefer to do it ourselves,” said Brian Dee.

An introductory meeting was held in Lashio on 18 May with government representatives, legal officers, regional police and Burmese army officers including Maj. Aung Phyo Myint. The owner of the house in Kawng Hka village where the men of 305th Light Infantry Battalion were stationed on the night of the incident also attended the meeting with the KBC.

The case drew nationwide outrage when it was reported, labeled “the slaughter of Burma’s future and the education sector,” by The Myanmar Teachers Federation.

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