Woman’s Murder Provokes Outrage in Shan State

The case has attracted the attention of local CSOs, who are demanding a thorough investigation.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Civil society organizations (CSOs) are demanding justice for a woman who was beaten to death in northern Shan State’s Kutkai Township last week, in a case that has shocked many in an area where women often fall victims to conflict-related violence.

According to a statement released by 40 CSOs on Wednesday, Nhkum Nang Htang was killed in her home in the village of Nam Soung Kyae in Kutkai’s Peing Pun village tract at around 1am on July 4. Family members said a substantial amount of money was taken from the property.

Although no suspects have been identified, the CSOs called on all armed groups active in the area to cooperate with the investigation into the killing.

“We want to get to the truth about who was behind this killing in a conflict-affected area. We want all stakeholders to consider the security of women. We want all armed groups, including the [Burma] Army, to respect laws recognized by the international community,” said Hkawng Nang of the Women’s Peace and Security Network (Northern Shan State).

According to the statement, the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) have clashed in the area since 2011. The Burma Army’s Infantry Battalion 261 is currently deployed in Nam Soung Kyae. The area is also patrolled by the KIA and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.

The statement called on the authorities to investigate the killing thoroughly and without prejudice, and to take strong action against the criminal. It also warned against making baseless accusations against innocent people and urged the authorities to consider the security of local people during the investigation.

According to the Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO), the area’s long history of conflict has often exposed local women to the threat of violence.

“Nhkum Nang Htang’s killing is not unusual in northern Shan State. There have been many similar cases in this area. This is a conflict area and it is unsafe for women to travel here,” Lway Chi Sanga, a central committee member of the TWO, told NMG.

In most cases, she said, the perpetrators of crimes against women are never punished.

“Nobody ever finds out what really happened in most of these cases. We want both the government and the ethnic armed organizations to discover the truth and to take action against the criminal. We want justice for Nhkum Nang Htang. We don’t want any bias or corruption in this case,” said Lway Chi Sanga.

So far, however, it appears that the police remain reluctant to act.

“We went to the Nam Phetkar police station to discuss this killing with the police, but all they had to say was that it would be difficult to go to the crime scene for ‘security reasons,’”
Hkawng Nang told NMG.

Despite evidence to suggest that there was a violent struggle, Nhkum Nang Htang’s neighbors said that they were unaware of the crime when it was taking place.

“Her dead body was on the ground. Her right leg was twisted upwards and her left leg was broken. There was a dent in her skull and a contusion around her neck. She also had injuries to her ears and a broken jaw. And according to the medical report, her neck was also broken,” said Hkawng Nang.

“Her house was not far from that of her neighbors, but they said they didn’t hear anything, possibly because it was raining at the time,” she added.

Family members said that around two million kyat (US$1,320) in cash was missing from the home after the crime was committed, including one million kyat that had recently been transferred to her by a sister living in Namti.

“Nothing was left. All of the money was gone,” said Hkawng Nang.

Nhkum Nang Htang is survived by her two daughters and her sick husband. Her remains were cremated at her mother’s house in Nam Phetkar on July 5.