Family marks 10-month memorial of Kachin student’s death

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An anniversary memorial service was held this week for a university student who was gunned down by a Tatmadaw soldier in Myitkyina last year.

Maung Gum Seng Awng was a 19-year-old university student when a scuffle with soldiers in Myitkyina led to his death on June 20, 2016.

According to police reports, Maung Gum Seng Awng was shot three times by Private Maung Maung from the 727th Supply and Transportation Battalion.

The Tatmadaw’s Northern Command slapped the private a two-year prison sentence, but family members and activists have called for a fuller investigation into the alleged incident.

“I’m not satisfied that the man who fired three bullets into my son and killed him was only given a two-year sentence, but I don’t know much about laws,” said Gay Wah, the victim’s father.

During a press conference in Yangon after the incident last year, Lieutenant General Mya Tun Oo defended the soldier’s actions. He claimed that the death was the result of a misfire after Maung Gum Seng Awng and other youth attacked two soldiers on security patrol.

University students and Kachin activists have called for the Tatmadaw to allow a civilian court to make an independent ruling.

Lawyer U Khun Naung, who assisted the victim’s family, said public support behind the case has rescued Maung Gum Seng Awng’s three friends who were also at the scene from being scapegoated.

“Due to public cooperation, we have successfully turned [Maung Gum Seng Awng] and his friends from being portrayed as culprits to victims,” U Khun Naung said.

“The public was afraid of standing up to the Burmese Military in the past,” he added.

At the 10-month memorial service, the Myitkyina Kachin Public United Group called for the case to see justice, and said that while the Tatmadaw has often been accused of violating human rights in Kachin, independent investigations are too rarely conducted.
Translated by Thida Linn
Edited by Laignee Barron