‘This will not happen again’- army commander says of Lashio murders

Maj-Gen Kyaw Kyaw Soe, the vice-commander of Northeast Command based in Lashio Township, has told families of last week’s murder victims from Mong Yaw that “This kind of incident will not happen again.”

A funeral service was held on Saturday for five victims in a monastery in Mong Yaw.
According to the wife of Sai Zei, one of the seven persons killed, the Burmese army major-general visited her and her children on Sunday.

“The vice-commander visited Mong Yaw on Sunday and donated 300,000 kyat [US$250] to each victim’s family,” she said. “He stated that this payment was not compensation, but was being handed over to express sympathy.”

She said that she and other victims’ families are pleading for public assistance.
“We are just simple villagers and don’t know how to proceed with this case. We are asking for help,” she said.

Five of the slain villagers had reportedly been arrested by a unit of Burmese government forces on June 25. Eyewitnesses to the incident claim the government soldiers displayed insignia indicating they were from Northeast Command’s Division 33. The soldiers reportedly opened fire on villagers while they were working in a cornfield. Five men were then rounded up and interrogated, accused of being rebels or rebel supporters, sources said. The five men were then herded into a truck and driven away. They were not seen again until their bodies were uncovered from shallow graves near a Burmese army encampment on June 29.

Two other locals were reportedly killed when soldiers shot at them for running through a makeshift army checkpoint on their motorcycle.
On Monday, the parents of two of the dead appealed to local authorities to investigate the case, according to Sai Wan Leng Kham, an Upper House MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy.

News of the killings has prompted some response from international Burma watchers.

Mark Farmaner, the director of Burma Campaign UK, said, “The killing of these civilians by the Burmese army is a war crime and should not be ignored by the international community or the NLD-led government.”

With regard to the new government’s approach to atrocities committed during the civil conflict, Farmaner said, “Aung San Suu Kyi’s current approach seems to be to talk about peace, but not mention the war. When people raise human rights violations she says people need to focus on the future, not the past. But for ethnic people, human rights violations are not just a thing of the past, they are continuing.

“Aung San Suu Kyi might not have political control over the Burmese army, but she has moral authority and the power to mobilize public opinion, which could influence the Burmese army to stop killings like this.”

David Mathieson, the senior researcher at the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), told Shan Herald that HRW was looking into the case and trying to verify it.

“It's gruesomely consistent with the patterns of violations being reported out of Shan State, where a multi-sided and decidedly murky conflict has escalated in recent years, displacing thousands of civilians,” he said, adding that his group had received “credible reports of a range of abuses including extrajudicial killings, torture, forced labor and forced recruitment, and indiscriminate air strikes” from the Shan region.

BY: Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)


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