Calls for justice are growing in the case of a Kachin woman who was brutally murdered in her home last week after Burmese soldiers entered her village in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township.
The victim, 51-year-old Nhkum Nang Htang of Nam Soung Kyae, a village in Kutkai’s Peing Pun village tract, was apparently beaten to death on the night of July 3 after she spent the evening with a neighbor.
“I was together with Nan Htang until 9:30pm. Burmese soldiers came into our village at around 1:30pm that day. Some soldiers borrowed a solar panel from Nan Htang. They also borrowed a plate for pickled tealeaf salad. They returned both items at around 8:30pm and then Nang Htang and I had dinner together. While we were eating, we saw two people passing on the road. One person asked us, ‘Where is the house of Tayoke-gyi?’ Nang Htang answered him and then I went home after dinner,” Lahtaw Ja Nan, a neighbor of the murdered woman, told KNG.
According to Lahtaw Ja Nan, she was with two government soldiers when she discovered her neighbor’s dead body the following day.
“The next day, I went to her house. There were two government soldiers outside who wanted to buy something from her shop. Then we entered her house together. I called out, ‘Sister!’ but she didn’t answer. I thought she was praying. The two soldiers also called out to her, but she didn’t respond. Then one of the soldiers looked through a hole in her bamboo wall. He said ‘Ah Shawng’ [Sister] had fallen to the ground and was lying face up. It was difficult to open the door. Then a soldier kicked down the door and we saw her dead body on the ground. The two soldiers went out to call a medic. After that, villagers arrived at her house. A medic checked her and declared her dead,” said Lahtaw Ja Nan.
According to villagers, soldiers from the Burma Army’s Infantry Battalion 261 returned to the village from the front line that day.
Nhkum Nang Htang’s body was transferred to the hospital in Nam Phetkar on July 4. According to the medical report, she suffered numerous serious injuries in the fatal attack. The report was later sent to a hospital Mandalay to determine if the victim was raped, according to Bawk Tawng, the person in charge of the camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nam Phetkar.
Police in Nam Phetkar confirmed this information.
“We have sent the medical report to Mandalay through Lashio. We are still waiting to find out if she was raped. Lahtaw Ja Nan reported the murder at the Nam Phetkar police station and we are now investigating this case,” police officer Than Zaw Oo of the Nam Phetkar police station told KNG.
The case has attracted the attention of many in the community and in the conflict-hit region. On Wednesday, 40 civil society organizations released a statement calling for justice for Nhkum Nang Htang.
“We want to get to the truth about who was behind this killing in a conflict-affected area. We want all stakeholders to consider the security of women,” said Hkawng Nang of the Women’s Peace and Security Network (Northern Shan State), one of the groups that released the statement.
Bawk Tawng, the person in charge of the Nam Phetkar IDP camp, said the next step was to open a formal inquiry into the killing. “We will also form an investigation commission for this case,” she told KNG.
The incident has shocked residents of Nam Soung Kyae, who say they have never had this kind of incident in their village before.
There are about 20 houses in Nam Soung Kyae. Most residents are ethnic Chinese and Kachin.