As the third anniversary approaches of a brutal murder that sent shockwaves around the country, the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) has called for the Burmese government to re-open an investigation into the case.
Two volunteer schoolteachers, Maran Lu Ra, 20, and Tangbau Hkwan Nan Tsin, 21, were working at a primary school in the village of Kaung Khar in northern Shan State, when on the night of 19 January 2015 they were raped and murdered.
A Burmese army battalion was camped nearby, and soldiers from that unit have always been suspected of involvement.
Speaking to DVB earlier today, KBC general-secretary Reverend Samson Hkalam said, “The NLD [National League for Democracy] officials promised after they won the [November 2015] election that they would uncover the truth about this case. But we have seen no developments.”
He added: “We would like to see the case re-investigated and the criminals arrested during the term of this government.
“We, the local community, cannot do any more. It all depends on the authorities now.”
Nearly three years ago, villagers in Kaung Khar heard muffled noises or screams coming from the room in a church compound where Maran Lu Ra and Tangbau Khawn Nan Tsin were staying. The villagers were reportedly too afraid to interfere. The following morning, the two mutilated bodies of the young women were discovered.
The 503rd Light Infantry Battalion had set up a temporary base in the village just a day or two before – the area being a flashpoint for clashes between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
Despite calls from around the country and abroad for a thorough investigation into the murders, no suspect – military or civilian – has ever been detained.
A year after the murders, the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand advocacy group released a damning report accusing the government and military of a “systematic cover-up” of the crime.
Burma’s state media has previously reported that Muse township police had suspicions that a local couple, named as Myo Tint and Ma Par, had been involved, but the pair allegedly fled to KIA-controlled territory before they could be questioned.
Even Burma’s Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing became involved, first urging that the matter be brought to justice, before issuing a statement saying that it would have been “impossible” for soldiers to have committed the crime.
The families of the two victims were each given five million kyat (US$3,700) by the military one week after their deaths, fanning suspicions that the army were attempting to conclude the matter without further investigation.
Rev. Samson said that the KBC will host a three-year anniversary commemoration ceremony in Myitkyina Township next month, followed by a press conference.