Monday, October 1, 2012

Activists demand justice for abducted Kachin women

Last week the Kachin Women's Association of Thailand (KWAT) sent President Thein Sein an open letter demanding that he authorize a re-trial for a court challenge launched by the family of Sumlut Roi Ja, a Kachin woman arrested by government forces in eastern Kachin state last year.

According to Roi Ja's family the young mother was harvesting corn with her husband and father in law at her family farm near Mai Ja Yang on Oct. 28, 2011 when soldiers from a nearby military base came and arrested them at gun point.

The family was ordered to carry their corn back to the base with the soldiers, according to the testimony of Roi Ja's husband Dau Lum. Dau Lum and his 70-year-old father managed to escape from the soldiers however Roi Ja was taken back to the Mu Bum military outpost operated by Battalion 321, Roi Ja's family claims.

Less than a week after she was detained Roi Ja's father in law wrote letters to the Kachin state chief minister, the Bhamo (or Manmaw) District governor and the Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion No. 321 commander detailing what he witnessed and calling for her immediate release. When these letters were ignored Roi Ja's family filed a filed a court case with Naypyidaw Supreme court.

During the court proceeding Roi Ja's husband Dau Lum was prevented from testifying about what he saw.  According to KWAT the presiding judge based his ruling entirely on evidence submitted by the Burmese authorities. Even going to so far as to claimed in his ruling that local authorities were never informed of Roi Ja's disappearance, this despite the letters from her father in law sent to the local authorities on November 6, 2011.

In the open letter KWAT tells President Thein Sein that the court's decision to dismiss the case is a “blatant perversion of justice brings shame on your government, and the independence of your judicial system.”

Located next to the China Burma border and surrounded on three sides by forces from the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), Mu Bum outpost is a strategic position for the Burmese military which captured the hill top base in the 1980's from the KIO.

[B]Troops from Burmese base accused of killing Chinese villager[/B]

In March of this year some two months after Burmese soldiers are alleged to have crossed into China from Mu Bum base and killed Lahpai Zau Lawn, an unarmed Chinese citizen of Kachin (Jingpo) ethnicity, Chinese authorities took the unprecedented step of publicly calling on Burma to punish those responsible.

On March 13 China's state owned media quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin issuing what is by far Beijing’s harshest criticism of Burma in years.

"The Chinese side has lodged solemn representations with the Myanmar side asking it to quickly find out the truth, punish the murderers and compensate the bereaved families," said Liu during a regular ministry press briefing.

"The Myanmar side said it paid attention to the representations and is stepping up investigations", the government spokesman added.  Liu's damming indictment of the Burmese army was later reported by the AFP news service which also quoted from the Kachin News Group's previous coverage of the story. Burma's embassy in Beijing refused to respond to AFP's request for comment.

According to Lahpai Zau Lawn's family the 53-year old farmer was abducted by Burmese troops on the evening of Thursday January 12 near his village, Loi Lung Bum in southern Yunnan.

An examination of Lahpai Zau Lawn's body which was found on Chinese soil showed that he was shot at close range in the abdomen and twice in head, his relatives said.  A photo of Lahpai Zau Lawn's corpse provided by his family supports their conclusion that he was struck in the face with a butt of a gun before being killed. Lahpai Zau Lawn's relatives say he did not cross into Burma that day and was instead captured in China.

Zau Lawn's body was found a short distance away from where he appears to have been killed. In an apparent message to his fellow villagers, Burmese soldiers also planted two mines, one at the place where blood stains were found and another mine where his Zau Lawn's body was found, according to a source familiar with the Chinese investigation.


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