Parents of two students who were detained by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) following a brawl near a karaoke establishment in Burma’s Kachin State recently learned of their deaths while in custody.
Kyi Kyi Khin, whose son Maung Thant Zin Aung was killed in Sel Zin village, told KNG that the KIA contacted the village headmen, asking him to negotiate between them.
Through the headman, KIA officials discussed the deaths of their sons this Friday (July 24), one day after the parents discovered they were dead. KIA officials told the parents they wanted to meet them to offer an apology.
“We want to get his body back. When we meet them tomorrow, we will demand this!” Kyi Kyi Khin said.
Maung Thant Zin, 18, was a first-year English major at Monywar University. Another student, Maung Zaw Myo Oo, was 17 years old and still in Grade-9. Both youths are ethnic Shanni.
Col. Nhpang Naw Bu, in charge of Kachin Independence Organisation’s (KIO) information department, confirmed the deaths and said an investigation has been opened. The boys were not killed because of ethnic tension between Kachin and Shanni ethnic groups, he said. The KIA officer had an argument with the students, Naw Bu said, while pledging to do whatever is necessary to “fulfill the satisfaction of the parents.”
Zin Maung Lwin, from Tai-Leng (Shanni) Nationalities and Development Party (TNDP), also said the murders in Hong Pa village-tract, located in Mohnyin Township, were not related to inter-ethnic tension between the groups. “We don’t hate Kachin people,” he said. “It is better to solve this problem through negotiation.”
In a statement, TNDP condemned the murders, calling on the KIO/KIA to take full responsibility for their deaths. According to the statement, Hkawng Lum, the KIA officer accused of killing the boys, was with Burma Army Capt. Nyi Nyi Aung when they were taken into custody on July 6. The Tatmadaw captain did nothing to prevent their detention.
Hkawng Lum, who is in KIA Battalion-26a and a township leader, arrived at Cho Rita KTV restaurant with Nyi Nyi Aung.
Win Naing, who is Shanni, said he paid his bill and was getting ready to leave the restaurant when Hkawng Lum approached him and hugged his neck, offering to send him home.”Without saying anything, he started beating me when we left KTV,” Win Naing said.
After this, Hkawng Lum, who was not in his uniform, started arguing with four students on motorcycles, an eyewitness told KNG. The officer and other KIA soldiers detained Maung Thant Zin and Maung Zaw Myo Oo, while the other students escaped.