Investigation into murder of nine people in Hpakant taking too long, says local committee
Investigation into murder of nine people in Hpakant taking too long, says Mung Shawa Lamtam Committee
The Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army (KIO/KIA) has been delaying taking action against those involved in the murder of nine people in Magawng Tawng village of Hpakant Township in Kachin state, according to the Mung Shawa Lamtam Committee (which translates to Civilian Truth Finding Committee).
It is alleged that a group consisting of soldiers from the KIA’s Battalion 20 and a local People’s Defence Force (PDF) killed nine civilians in Hpakant Township two months ago. The families of the victims say that they have not received justice for the murders of their relatives. The KIO/KIA has detained the alleged perpetrators, but no final judgment has been made regarding this murder case. There is also a concern that the informants who gave false information about the victims before they were killed have not been arrested.
“The KIO/KIA arrested the killers only. They haven’t arrested the people who gave wrong information about these civilians, which led to them being arrested and killed. We want the KIO/KIA to arrest the informants who gave the wrong information to the soldiers. At the moment, the KIO/KIA is trying to conceal the identities of the informants. The KIO/KIA know who killed these people and they know who submitted misinformation about them before they were killed. I think they are delaying this case. For us, we want to conclude this case as soon as possible,” a male member of the Mung Shawa Lamtam Committee told KNG.
The KIA has detained 19 people including the alleged killers and eyewitnesses from the KIA’s Brigade 2.
Members of the Mung Shawa Lamtam Committee said that while the KIO/KIA has detained the alleged killers they haven’t arrested their informants, who gave false information.
“We want to have a meeting with the KIO/KIA investigation committee. We need to compare their committee’s findings with our findings. They have repeatedly changed the scheduled date for this meeting. They already know the identities of the perpetrators and informants who are involved in this murder case. I think the KIO/KIA are purposefully delaying the investigation of this case. This massacre of civilians should have high priority, but it seems that they do not want to pay attention to this case,” the Mung Shawa Lamtam Committee member told KNG.
According to the Mung Shawa Lam Tam Committee, the family members of the victims want to get justice for the murder of the nine civilians as soon as possible. They want the KIO/KIA to reveal the truth about the murders and apologize to victim’s families.
The 17-member Mung Shawa Lamtam Committee has already conducted its own investigation into the killings at the crime scene. The Committee said they found that informants gave the KIO/KIA and PDF soldiers false information about the nine people which ultimately lead to their murders.
Specific details about the false information and the reason why informants gave this false information are not currently known. Reports from local people indicate that the informants may have targeted the nine people with false information due to previous grudges related to land disputes dating back to 2018, but this could not be verified by KNG.
“In my opinion, land disputes are not the only reasons why these people were murdered. Perhaps they may have some connection to other unknown social affairs. I do not know about it in detail,” a local man from Magawng Tawng village told KNG.
On the evening of 24 January, a group of KIA and PDF soldiers arrested seven men and two women at U Kyaw Soe’s property in Magawng Tawng village. After being detained by KIA and PDF for six hours, the nine people were killed and buried in a mass grave.
On 24 February, the family members of the victims, accompanied by members of the Mung Shawa Lamtam Committee, dug-up the dead bodies and cremated their remains according to their religion and customs.
The people killed were: U Lor Day Yaw Han, age 47; U Kyaw Soe, age 49; U Lazup Tu Lum, age 56; U Lazup Hoti Shawng, age 35; Daw Hpaw Mer Hkawng Bu, age 28; Daw N’dau Htu Nan, age 28; U Tun Yon, age 27; U Myint Htwe, age 50; and U Hpoe Lay, age 50.
U Lor Day Yaw Han was originally from Namti town. U Lazup Tu Lum, Lazup Hoti Shawng, U Myint Htwe and U Tun Yon were originally from Bhamo. Daw Hpaw Mer Hkawng Bu and Daw N’dau Htu Nan were originally from Ser Maw. U Kyaw Soe was originally from Mogaung town.
Regarding this massacre, family members and the Mung Shawa Lam Tam Committee have called for quick justice but they say the KIO/KIA is delaying the completion of their investigation into the murders.
“The case is still under investigation. Our investigation team has made some progress but has not yet made any final conclusions. I think the truth will be revealed ultimately. Because the investigation is ongoing, I don’t want to make any further comments about it,” Col Naw Bu, head of the KIO’s information department, told KNG.
The Mung Shawa Lam Tam Committee said that due to the delay in the KIO’s investigation, they want to ask the question “Is KIO government intentionally delaying the investigation of this murder case?”