Kachins protest schoolgirl gang rape and murder (Special)

August 27, 2008

Kachin News Group

Ethnic Kachins from northern Burma in Japan today protested against the gang rape and murder of a Kachin schoolgirl on July 27 by Burmese soldiers, a protester said.

The demonstrators held posters and read short statements in the space in front of the Burmese Embassy in Tokyo between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. local time. They were joined by about 200 Kachin protesters including some non-Kachins from Burma, Peter Brang Seng, an organizer told KNG.

Peter Brang Seng said, "We read out statements against the junta on the Kachin schoolgirl Nhkum Hkawn Din's rape and murder by Burmese soldiers. There is lack of human rights in Kachin State and the junta's lack of action against serious drug addiction in the State which is destroying Kachins."

The demonstrators also shouted slogans like "The junta is a killer government" and "The junta is implementing the mission of wiping out ethnic Kachins in the country", added Peter Brang Seng.

This demonstration was organized by Japan-based Kachin National Organization (KNO) and it was unusual that the Japanese police officers and security agents provided security to demonstrators, Peter Brang Seng told KNG soon after the demonstration ended.

At the same time, the demonstration on the same issue against Burma's ruling junta was held in India's capital New Delhi today between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. by ethnic Kachins and some non-Kachins from Burma, said a participant.

The Thailand-base Kachin Women's Association (KWAT) released a statement on Hkawn Din's rape and murder today and strongly condemned the gruesome act. "The junta uses rape as a tool against ethnic minority women with impunity and this is an act of crime against humanity and lack of rule of law in Burma."

Lt-Gen N'ban La Awng, Vice-chairman of Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) demanded that the new Northern Command (Ma-Pa-Kha) commander of junta, Maj-Gen Soe Win punish the rapists and murderers of Hkawn Din by showing him the body of Hkawn Din when the commander first met KIO leaders in Laiza controlled area on August 23, said a KIO officer.

Lt-Gen N'ban La Awng also told Maj-Gen Soe Win, "If soldiers in Kachin Independence Army (KIA) commit such a crime as your soldiers (Burmese soldiers) did, we will hand out the death penalty."

Junta response on the case

After soldier Soe Tu Win committed the crime a group of officers from the army, police and Momauk (N'mawk) Township Administration (Ma-Ya-Ka) visited Hkawn Din's house in Nam Sai to apologize on August 17 and provided a sack of milled-rice or three Tin (1Tin = 40.9 litres in Burmese measurement in volume), two Viss of sugar (1Viss = 1.6 Kilograms in Burmese measurement in weight), four Viss of cooking oil, five cans of condensed milk and Kyat 500,000 which is equivalent to 424 US dollar.

The case was quickly taken over by a group of military officers and the group heard evidence from local eyewitnesses. Till now, no court decision has been given on the soldier Soe Tu Win, according to relatives of Hkawn Din.

Rape and murder

Hkawn Din was gang-raped and murdered on July 27 on her way to the village paddy-field, about a mile from the village by Burmese soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 437 commanded by Major Aung Myint Htun (temporarily) based in Momauk.

The naked body of Hkawn Din was discovered with seven major stab wounds and covered with leaves in a bush on July 30, three days after the rape and murder.

Three Burmese soldiers were said to be involved including soldier Soe Tu Win, Tu Ra (trainee) led by Corporal Aye Thein. They are based in Nam Sai as a branch section of LIB No. 437 in Momauk, according to the relatives of Hkawn Din.

However, the army arrested only one soldier called Soe Tu Win on August 14 and the soldier was then sent to prison in Momauk Police Station on August 15. Soe Tu Win is also guarded by two soldiers since he has been put in a prison cell in Momauk Police Station.

Personal profile and village background

Hkawn Din was 15 year-old and lived in block No. 1 in Nam Sai in Momauk Township in Bhamo District in Kachin State, northern Burma. Her parents are Salang Nhkum Yawng Shawng and Maran Nu Bren. She was an eighth grade student and studied at the Basic State Middle School in Kyan Khin block in Momauk.

In the seven-member family, she was the second eldest with two young sisters, a young brother and an elder brother.

Even as an eighth grade student, Hkawn Din voluntarily helped primary school children in her village by teaching and guiding them in their school lessons without wages in her free time. As a small village with little development, she was hope for her family as well as Nam Sai villagers.

The Nam Sai has over a hundred families and is under the control of Burma's ruling junta and Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). The 1st battalion of Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under KIO has run a development project in the village since a ceasefire agreement was signed between the KIO and ruling junta in 1994.

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Comment on this Post


Thank you for sharing all of this important information. Can I ask what your connection is to Burma? You seem to be a knowledgeable source.

Have a wonderful week and I hope you will keep sharing.

In friendship,

Jenna Kellam

Dear Jenna,

I'm director of a project on Burma's human rights and environmental issues, which I founded in 1986 -- www.projectmaje.org

For the story of how I got involved in Burma when I was living in northern Thailand in the 1980s, see my first book, "Burmese Looking Glass."

best wishes, Edith "DOWN THE RAT HOLE: Adventures Underground on Burma's Frontiers" is the latest book by Edith Mirante (author of "Burmese Looking Glass") published by Orchid Press.

"DOWN THE RAT HOLE: Adventures Underground on Burma's Frontiers" is the latest book by Edith Mirante (author of "Burmese Looking Glass") published by Orchid Press.

Hearing about such violent acts is always heart wrenching. I can only hope there will be a day when rape is not used as a form of control. You have been a rich source of information about Burma for us here. Thank you. What is happening with the demonstrations regarding this case? Has there been any justice? Are there organizations in the United States that have been publicizing these horrendous crimes?

Dear Lisa,

The outrage over the terrible crime in Kachin State did result in an unusual move by the military to arrest the rapists. Usually that does not happen, since violence against women is very much part of military strategy in ethnic areas. I hope that this kind of attention, which has made an impact in one single horrible case, will force Burma's regime to stop this kind of tactic. See today's posting on the Nilar Thein case for a link to the Women's League of Burma which has been active on such issues. best wishes, Edith

"DOWN THE RAT HOLE: Adventures Underground on Burma's Frontiers" is the latest book by Edith Mirante (author of "Burmese Looking Glass") published by Orchid Press.

"DOWN THE RAT HOLE: Adventures Underground on Burma's Frontiers" is the latest book by Edith Mirante (author of "Burmese Looking Glass") published by Orchid Press.