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Myanmar Military Allegedly Killed 14-Year-Old School Girl

By The Ja Seng Ing Truth Finding Committee  •  December 6, 2014

Action needed to ensure accountability

(Yangon, 6 December 2014) The Government of Myanmar should initiate an investigation into the death of Ja Seng Ing, a 14-year-old school girl from Kachin State, said the Ja Seng Ing Truth Finding Committee (the Committee) in a report released today. According to eyewitnesses, Ja Seng Ing was shot and killed by Myanmar Army soldiers in Sut Ngai Yang village, Hpakant Township, Kachin State on 13 September 2012.

The 42-page report, Who Killed Ja Seng Ing?, presents the testimonies of 16 individuals with knowledge of the events surrounding Ja Seng Ing’s death. Eyewitnesses allege that Myanmar Army soldiers shot her at close range during a period of indiscriminate gunfire. Despite requests by Brang Shawng to ensure that those responsible for Ja Seng Ing’s death are held accountable, the government and military have not properly investigated the incident. Instead, Brang Shawng is currently being prosecuted in Hpakant Township Court for making “false charges” against the military in a letter to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission about the death of his daughter.

“Witnesses tell us the Myanmar military is responsible for the death of Ja Seng Ing,” said I Z Awng, documentation officer for the Committee. “Instead of investigating her death in good faith, the military has brought a case against her father, compounding the injustice.”

The Committee’s report compiles firsthand testimony from Ja Seng Ing’s father and mother, classmates and a teacher that were with Ja Seng Ing when she was injured, Sut Ngai Yang villagers, and an officer from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). These individuals described the events of 13 September 2012 from multiple perspectives, contributing to a coherent and credible narrative of what happened on that day. The Committee also conducted a physical investigation of the alleged crime scene in the village.

According to local residents, on 13 September 2012, Myanmar Army soldiers engaged in a series of indiscriminate attacks in Hpakant Township, injuring 11 civilians. In Sut Ngai Yang village, soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 389 allegedly discharged their weapons repeatedly for approximately one hour, at times firing bullets through the walls of villagers’ homes. During this period, Ja Seng Ing was fatally injured while hiding with her classmates and an adult friend behind a house in the village. Her classmates described the moments preceding Ja Seng Ing’s injury, when soldiers shouted orders for them to come out of their hiding place and then opened fire at close range.

The testimonies included in the Committee’s report describe these events and those leading up to Ja Seng Ing’s death in a local hospital to a high degree of detail. The report highlights the grave consequences of the Myanmar Army’s conduct in situations of armed conflict. The report urges the military to refrain from further indiscriminate attacks and to hold soldiers accountable for inappropriate conduct. It also asks that both the Myanmar Army and KIA not establish camps in civilian areas and take concrete measures to protect civilian populations.

“Ja Seng Ing’s death is a tragic reminder that Myanmar Army soldiers are all too willing to indiscriminately fire at innocent men, women, and children,” said Mung Dan, a member of the Committee. “The military’s disregard for human life is appalling.”

In the weeks following the attack in Sut Ngai Yang village, Brang Shawng sent letters to President Thein Sein and the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission requesting that they initiate an investigation into his daughter’s death and take steps to ensure that such incidents do not happen again in the future.

To date, neither the government nor the Commission have taken any action regarding the case. Rather, the Myanmar Army initiated a criminal case against Brang Shawng for “false charges” made in his letter to the Commission. He now faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

The Committee is deeply concerned about the prosecution of Brang Shawng and the failure of Myanmar’s government and military to ensure that those responsible for Ja Seng Ing’s death are held accountable. The Committee calls on the Government of Myanmar to establish an independent commission to investigate the death of Ja Seng Ing and the injury of other civilians in Hpakant Township on 13 September 2012.

“The Myanmar military shouldn’t encourage abuses by shielding perpetrators from the punishment they deserve,” said Mung Dan. “Rather than retaliating against those who report human rights violations, the government and military should investigate credible allegations and ensure that perpetrators are held to account.”

For more information, please contact:

Mung Dan: +95 (0) 931598194, humanrights@hikachin.org (Burmese, Kachin, English)
I Z Awng: +95 (0) 9425289839 (Burmese, Kachin, English)
Hkun Nawng +95 (0) 9402581709 (for legal enquiries; Burmese)

The Ja Seng Ing Truth Finding Committee comprises several civil society organizations in Kachin State.

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This post is in: Press Release

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