A serviceman from the Burmese armed forces shot and killed an 18-year-old university student in Myitkyina on Monday evening following an argument at a checkpoint.
The victim was identified as Gun Seng Aung, a first-year student at Myitkyina Technological University. A local reporter told DVB that the student had been riding a motorcycle and, for reasons unknown, became embroiled in an argument with soldiers manning a checkpoint on the Bala Min Htin Bridge.
Htoi Aung, a local news reporter in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina, said, “The incident took place between 9pm and 10pm in Myitkyina’s Thida ward. The victim was traveling on a motorbike. He had an argument with the soldiers manning the Bala Min Htin bridge, and they apparently followed him.”
Htoi Aung said that he was not an eye witness to the incidents.
“The victim’s body was taken to the emergency ward of the hospital with a lot of police security present. After a brief chat with the doctors, they sent the body straight to the morgue.”
Zaw Myat, an uncle of the deceased, said Gun Seng Aung’s family had been refused permission to see the body on Tuesday morning.
“We have been waiting at the morgue since 1am,” he told DVB. “We have not been allowed to see him. The officials told us to come back at 9am, so we did. But we still haven’t been able to see him.”
According to the Myitkyina police, two soldiers from a logistical battalion deployed on the bridge claimed responsibility for Gun Seng Aung’s death, and turned themselves in to police. They have been transferred back to the military after being booked on manslaughter charges.
“We charged them with manslaughter under penal code Article 304,” said an officer at the Myitkyina police department. “The shooter was arrested and transferred to the army.”
Gun Seng Aung’s death is not the first time that Burmese soldiers have shot or brutalised unarmed civilians in recent times. Shan youth Sai Lai Pang was shot in May in Muse for failing to stop at an army checkpoint. And in August 2014, a 16-year-old was apparently shot dead for no reason by soldiers while he sat at his family farm in Shan State.
Perhaps the most notorious case implicating members of the Tatmadaw [Burmese army] was in January last year when two Kachin schoolteachers, Maran Lu Ran, 20, and Tangbau Hkwan Nan Tsin, 21, were brutally raped and murdered. Despite widespread outrage and vigils across the country, no one was ever arrested or tried for the brutal attack. Villagers and human rights groups have consistently laid the blame squarely at the feet of servicemen from the armed forces’ 503rd Light Infantry Battalion.