By John Zaw
A new report investigating the rape and murder in northern Shan State of two Kachin Christian teachers alleges that a high-ranking military officer was involved in the cover-up of the crime carried out by soldiers.
The Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand and the Legal Aid Network released the report “Justice delayed, justice denied” on Jan. 19, which coincided with the one-year anniversary of the two teachers’ deaths.
The report makes claims to expose an alleged cover-up of the military’s involvement in the case. The report also states that the investigation into the murders has been one-sided, which led to delays and a denial of justice.
The report analyzes witness testimony that identifies as a key suspect the commanding officer from Myanmar’s army, which was camped in the village.
“The government’s priorities were clear in the Kaung Kha case — protect the military at all costs,” Moon Nay Li, the association’s general secretary, said in a Jan. 19 statement.
Two ethnic Kachin teachers — Maran Lu Ra, 20, and Tangbau Hkawn Na Tsin, 21 — were living in Kaung Kha village in northern Shan State, sent as volunteers by the Kachin Baptist Convention, where they were raped and murdered on Jan. 19, 2015.
In a video seen by ucanews.com last March, the two women’s bloody and battered bodies were seen lying side-by-side on a bamboo bed, their pajamas pulled down.
The Baptist convention conducted its own investigation into the two teachers’ murders. The Kachin community believes that none of the local villagers were responsible for the crime.
The Rev. Samson Hkalam, the convention’s secretary, said that police inconsistencies hindered the official investigation.
“Police can’t bring the soldiers, who were camped in the village, in for questioning. This kind of case can be solved easily but it raises questions on why this case … fails to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the Rev. Samson told ucanews.com on Jan 19.
The Myanmar army has been accused of using rape as a weapon in its decade-long wars with ethnic minorities. The Women’s League of Burma, an umbrella organization of women’s groups in the country, collected more than 100 allegations of rape against Myanmar army soldiers between 2010 and 2014.
But the military publicly issued a threat last January to local media not to implicate soldiers in the Kaung Kha crime, and police have reportedly dismissed the possibility that troops could be responsible.