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The people of Kachin State and across Burma were shocked by the brutal murder of two young schoolteachers in a church compound in Muse last week. Several domestic and international agencies, as well as embassies, have voiced outrage over the incident, as much evidence is pointing towards soldiers from the Burmese army as culprits.
The local government has formed a tribunal to investigate the case, and no charges have as yet been leveled.
Police officers from Muse, high-ranking officers from Lashio and state capital Taunggyi, and Shan State’s Kachin Affairs Minister have been tasked with investigating the case. According to Kachinland News, local sources claim that those assigned to investigate the case are conducting their duties amid fear of reprisals.
The following is a chronology laid out by Kachinland News, a media partner of DVB. It is based on local sources from the village where the murders, and possibly rapes, of Maran Lu Ra (20) and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin (21), took place.
7 am, 19 Jan 2015: About 40 Burmese army soldiers from 503rd LIB, under Kyaukme-based 1st Military Operations Command, led by Maj. Aung Soe Myint, arrived in Kawnghka village, located between Nam Tau and Mung Paw in Muse Township, from Mongkoe area on 19 Jan at around 7 am.
19 Jan: Maj. Aung Soe Myint and about 20 soldiers quartered in three civilian homes and villagers were commanded to provide quarters for them. 20 other soldiers [were] positioned in groups around the village to guard against intruders.
6 pm, 19 Jan: The two teachers went to a birthday party for the child of a 10-house headman in the evening. The headman’s house is located about 190 yards from the church compound where the teachers live.
9 pm, 19 Jan: The two teachers went to a bench latrine in the backyard of the headman’s house and saw some Burmese soldiers standing on sentry duty. They went back inside the headman’s house and told the hosts about their encounter with Burmese soldiers.
10 pm, 19 Jan: The two teachers returned to their home at about 10 pm with some villagers. A local source said those soldiers followed the two teachers to their home in the church compound.
1 am, 20 Jan: Three villagers from a nearby house went to look at the teachers’ house as they heard crying and groaning sounds. The three villagers found the door locked and didn’t hear any sound when they knocked the door. So they returned to their house.
4 am, 20 Jan: Two four-wheeled cars departed from the Burmese army camp on 20 Jan at around 4 am. One more truck departed at around 7 am.
7 am, 20 Jan: One student went to the teachers’ house and called their names, but there was no reply.
8:30 am, 20 Jan: Another neighbour pushed the door and found the bodies of the two teachers. More villagers came to the crime scene.
9 am, 20 Jan: Witnesses found that both teachers were stabbed several times with a kitchen knife and badly beaten on their heads. Villagers found one wooden stick used for a fireplace and several footprints [resembling] army combat boots.
20 Jan: Some villagers were stopped by Burmese army soldiers and asked to delete pictures taken at the crime scene.
20 Jan: About 200 more Burmese army troops arrived in Kawnghka village and surrounded the entire village.
This article was originally published in Kachinland News on 25 January 2014.