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More than 120 civic organisations have petitioned the Burmese government to probe into the alleged abduction and disappearance of Sumlut Roi Ja, a Kachin woman, who went missing exactly three years ago today.
The 124 Burmese and international organisations that are signatories to the petition have urged the Burmese government to: “Establish an independent and impartial parliamentary commission with a mandate to investigate the disappearance of Sumlut Roi Ja and identify the perpetrators.”
On 28 October 2011, the Burmese army’s Light Infantry Battalion 321 allegedly picked up Sumlut Roi Ja along with her husband and father-in-law near Hkaibang Village, Momauk Township, Kachin State, on allegations of involvement with the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIA).
Speaking to DVB last year, her husband Dau Lam said that he and his father managed to break free of their ropes and get away by jumping down a ravine, narrowly escaping a hail of gunfire in the process. Roi Ja who was being closely guarded by the troops, was unable to get away, he said. She has not been seen since.
Sumlut Roi Ja was 28 years old when she went missing and is assumed dead by relatives after all leads tracing her diminished.
Despite witnesses claiming to have seen her been manhandled at the army base prior to her disappearance, civil and judicial authorities dismissed petitions filed by her family and other concerned units. The Burmese military has consistently denied reports alleging their involvement in Roi Ja’s abduction and disappearance.
The Northern Regional Military Command (NRMC) officer’s , summoned by the Supreme Court in Naypyidaw on March 2012, were acquitted after the lawsuit filed by the victim’s husband was dismissed. The Supreme Court cited a lack of evidence.
Burmese soldiers have been accused of involvement in more than 70 cases of sexual violence in Kachin State since the conflict between the army and KIA resumed in 2011. Many more cases remain undocumented.
“The case of Sumlut Roi Ja underscores the ongoing serious human rights violations perpetrated by the Burma Army in Kachin State, including the deliberate targeting of civilians in conflict, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detention, and violence against women,” stated the petitioners.
A report on sexual violence released earlier this year by the Women’s League of Burma claimed that the Burmese army has resorted to using rape and sexual violence as a politicised tool or weapon against the ethnic communities.
In their petition, the NGOs have also demanded that the Burmese government sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and incorporate its provisions into national law as a matter of priority.