Burma's Vice-President Implicated in Kachin Massacres

Posted by Admin Saturday, July 16, 2011

BA KAUNG Friday, July 15, 2011
In Jan. 2006, a mass funeral took place in Kutkai in southern Muse Township in Shan State for KIA soldiers and civilians allegedly murdered by the Burmese army.

Burma's Vice President Tin Aung Myint Oo should be investigated by a United Nations' Commission of Inquiry for his role as regional commander during a series of brutal massacres in Shan State, says the leadership of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

In interviews conducted last week with The Irrawaddy at their military headquarters in Laiza, Kachin State, three of the influential leaders of the KIA—retired Col. James Lum Dung, Brig-Gen Gun Maw, and Col. Zau Raw—laid out detailed reports with maps and photographs that they said proves conclusively that the Burmese army committed atrocities against Kachin soldiers and civilians over the past 10 years.

The first and second of these massacres, according to the KIA, came in 2001 under the watch of Burma's new vice-president who was Northeast Regional Commander at that time.

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Asked why evidence of such atrocities had never before been reported, the KIA leaders said that they had not publicized the massacres to avoid destroying the fragile political process during the 17-year ceasefire and while the constitution was being drafted.

Collectively and individually, the KIA leaders said that now that the ceasefire has been broken by the Burmese army, and that all hope of political negotiation has broken down, the KIA wants to present its allegations to the UN, and claims that the four mass killings and three summary executions constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

According to the KIA's documentation, which is written in Kachin language, the first incident occurred in March 2001, in the countryside a few kilometers from Lau Jai village in Mung Si District, which is in Muse Township in northern Shan State.

The area was at the time openly under the control of the KIA. At 9 am on March 22, four KIA soldiers on patrol came across a unit of approximately 100 Burmese infantry troops of Division 242 led by Maj. Khin Maung Hla, the commander of Kutkai Military Command in Muse.

Initially, the Burmese patrol requested the KIA soldiers to guide them to the village of Shauk Haw. Before reaching the village, the four Kachin soldiers were attacked, disarmed and tied up. At around 2 pm, they were all shot dead. Their bodies were half-buried on top of each other in a shallow grave in the forest.

The KIA recovered the corpses one month later. They recorded the deceased as: Sergeant Zatau Dau Hawng, and private soldiers Laphai Zau Bawk, Dashi Nawng Hkum and Kareng Tu Lum. The KIA report says a formal funeral was held for the four on April 22, 2001.

On the same day, a harrowing scene was played out at a small agricultural farm in Mung Si District in Shan State. The KIA report lists the plot in the hamlet of Nawng Tau Si Sa Pa, and says the farm was run by the KIA's 2,000-strong Battalion 4, as part of a regional development program initiated after the ceasefire in 1994.

It is alleged that a column of 70 Burmese troops approached the farm and requested a meeting with Second Lieutenant Hpuwang Naw Seng of the KIA. However, as Naw Seng was otherwise engaged, the KIA's Warrant Officer Lt. Gam Seng went out to meet the Burmese unit which was led by Lt. Col. Nyo Win from Light Infantry Division 242—the very same unit accused of involvement in the executions in Muse.

As soon as Gam Seng came before the Burmese troops, he was allegedly grabbed and tied up. Simultaneously, Burmese government troops broke into the farmhouse and arrested four KIA soldiers, including Naw Seng, and two civilians.

According to the KIA records, the captives were taken to a nearby forest and physically tortured throughout the night. They were all dead by the following morning.

Some weeks later, the KIA recovered the seven bodies in a swamp. Each had multiple stab wounds, which the KIA said were inflicted by bayonets. Each of the bodies showed evidence of burning to the genitals. On some trees nearby, the KIA found samples of the victims' hair mixed with blood.
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