Candlelit vigils were held concurrently in several towns across Burma on Sunday, organised by the National League for Democracy (NLD) in memory of the two Kachin schoolteachers who were killed last week in northern Shan State.
The vigils began at 10:30am on 25 January and took place in more than 13 towns across the country.
The mutilated bodies of Maran Lu Ra and Tangbau Khawn Nan Tsin, aged 20 and 21 respectively, were found in their hostel in the town of Pangsai in Muse District on Tuesday morning. The women were volunteer teachers with the Kachin Baptist Church organisation. They were killed within the church compound.
Okkar Min, a member of the NLD youth wing in Mergui [Myeik] in Tenasserim Division told DVB that around 50 youths in the southern Burma coastal town gathered at the Theindawgyi Pagoda in the town for the commemorative ceremony.
“We held the vigil to express solidarity, and to show that people in southern Burma, as those in the north, are saddened by the news about the girls,” he said, adding that representatives from various political parties in the town attended the event.
The vigil in northern Shan State’s Lashio was held at the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda and attended by around 50 people. There were Buddhist and Christian prayer services, said Ko Myo, a local NLD youth member.
“We made offerings to the Buddhist monks at the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda in Lashio and there was also a Christian prayer service,” said Ko Myo. “We also marked a two-minute silence and read out the NLD youth members’ condolences.”
Vigils were also held in towns including the capitals of Karen and Mon states, Hpa-an and Moulmein, and in Rangoon and Irrawaddy divisions. As well as paying respects to the two young women, demands were made for the rule of law to be enacted, and for an investigation to expose the culprits.
The NLD have said that the violent deaths of the two women represent “a loss for the country,” in a statement released on 26 January.
The statement also said that: “Wild speculations on who is behind the inhumane murder of the young teachers – at a time of effort to bring about nationwide ceasefire and peace – can lead to undesirable problems.” The opposition party called on the government to carry out “necessary actions” to find out what happened.
With much evidence from the attack pointing towards soldiers from the Burmese army as culprits, several domestic and international agencies, as well as embassies, have voiced outrage over the incident and called for a transparent and effective investigation.