7 Awng Padang villagers arrested and forced into murder confession

A Lisu family of 4 from Tsing In village in Mogok township were murdered in their own home on May 16. The perpetrators have not been apprehended, nor a motive for the crime determined, but the police from Kyat Pyin, Mogok has arrested 7 Kachin men from Awng Padang village on May 18. 

Awng Padang village is quite a distance from Tsing In village where the crime took place. Six of the men arrested had been working on a mandat or temporary tent-like structure to host a wedding reception. The groom was taken in after the wedding. It is said an arrest warrant has also been issued for a villager away from home at present. The arrested men are: Hanggau Zau Jat, Sumlut Yawhan @ Brang Nu, Maran Naw Awng, Gawlu Awng Ban, Zahkung Doi La, Sumlut Gun Awng, and Lahpai Zau Lat. 

According to local sources, these villagers have no idea who the murdered family were or where they were from. It is quite apparent to them that the men had been arrested on trumped up charges. While under detention, they had been subjected to beatings and torture, and made to confess under duress. Family members have not been allowed to see them. In the meantime, the police have been spreading all kinds of rumors about the case, while making known their intention to question more men from the village. 

The local people feel that the turn of events show a breakdown of law and order, and a clear indication that Kachin men are being targeted. A local observer believes that a deliberate attempt is being made to cause misunderstandings between Kachin tribes which could lead to hostilities between the 2 tribal groups. It is not clear who is behind it all, but the observer is of the opinion that the local people should be extra vigilant as the case bears a striking resemblance to how communal strife was stoked in Rakhine.

(Correction: Earlier version of this story reported the murder date as May 17, the date the victims’ bodies were found)