123 Organizations Demand Investigation on Disappearance While in Army Custody

123 Civil Society Organizations on Monday urged Burmese government to investigate the untraceable disappearance of Sumlut Roi Ja, 28, at the hands of Burmese army’s 321st Light Infantry Battalion troops on October 28, 2011.

Civil Society Organizations said in a statement, “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. More than 70 cases of sexual violence by Burma Army soldiers against women and young girls in Kachin State and Northern Shan State have been recorded between the resumption of conflict between the Burma Army and the KIA in June 2011 and June 2014. At least 20 of the victims were killed.”

Sumlut Roi Ja was abducted by Burmese Army soldiers under 321st Light Infantry Battalion on Oct 28, 2011. The soldiers captured Roi Ja, her husband Maru Dau Lum, 31, and father-in-law Ze Dau ,70, at Mu hill near China-Burma border Loi Je while they were working in their maize field. Dau Lum and Ze Dau later escaped but Sumlut Roi Ja remained in the hands of Burmese soldiers.

Local aid workers said Roi Ja was last seen on Oct 31, 2011 being dragged down by four Burmese army soldiers into a bunker. Her whereabouts is still unknown and she is presumed dead.

Maru Dau Lum, Roi Ja’s husband, submitted her case to Burmese’s government’s Supreme Court in Nay Pyi Daw on Jan 26, 2012. Supreme Court initially agreed to hear Roi Ja’s case on Feb 9, 2012, and later postponed to Feb 23, 2012 and again to March, 2012, just to dismiss the case for lack of evidence.

The statement signed by 123 organizations also demanded to establish an independent and impartial parliamentary commission, ensure perpetrators are brought to justice, sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and incorporate its provisions into national law, and immediately cease violations of international humanitarian and human rights law against ethnic minority civilians in conflict and ceasefire areas.

“Our organization sent letter to President U Thein Sein about Roi Ja, but we’ve got no reply. Roi Ja’s husband had no chance to talk in the court in Nay Pyi Daw during the hearing,” said Moon Nay Li of Kachin Women Association Thailand (KWAT). “The reason there is no rule of law in Burma is because of Burmese army’s law violations. Burmese army is above the law and everybody in Burma”.

Moon Nay Li said there are cases the court made the trials unfair. “Brang Yung and others arrested by Burmese army soldiers were treated unfairly and wrongfully convicted. They were inhumanely abused and tortured during interrogations.”

Burmese army shot dead a freelance journalist Aung Kyaw Naing (aka) Ko Par Gyi while in custody in the first week of October. In a rare case, the army released a statement that Ko Par Gyi was shot dead while attempting to escape from custody.

An ethnic leader said, “The army’s statement doesn’t make sense for those who know the area well. All armed groups in that area signed ceasefire agreements with the Burmese army. Ko Par Gyi simply can’t flee with a gun seized from the army in an area controlled by Burmese army and ceasefire groups.”

Moon Nay Li of KWAT commented, “Ko Par Gyi’s case clearly shows Burmese army’s violence against civilians. As long as Burmese army is in power, there can be no justice and no truth.”