Compensation for rape and murder of Kachin girl not enough: Campaigner
Monday, 25 August 2008 22:39
New Delhi – Burmese military authorities have given 500,000 Kyat (about USD 500) as compensation to the family of a school girl, who was allegedly raped and murdered by Burmese Army soldiers in late July, local sources confirmed.
Burmese Army officers had visited the family members of Nhkum Hkawn Din (15), who was allegedly gang raped and murdered by Burmese soldiers in her village Nam Sai in Nothern Burma’s Kachin State, to apologize and offered 500,000 Kyat along with some food as compensation, sources said.
A local villager, who declined to be named, told Mizzima, the army officers came to apologize only after local eyewitnesses were able to identify one of the perpetrators, soldier Soe Thu Win, during an identification parade in the barracks.
Soe Thu Win was arrested and charged with murder but was exempted from charges of rape, the source said.
According to him, three soldiers including Soe Thu Win had gang-raped the girl and murdered her to cover up their crime.
“A further complaint to higher authorities in the State will be made by the family,” the source said.
The girl’s family members had sent an 11-page letter of complaint to the military divisional office with signatures including those of five eye witnesses, he said.
“The eye witnesses know that there was more than one soldier involved in the rape and murder but the case is now being handled by army authorities without any trial,” he added.
Meanwhile, Burma Campaign UK’s campaign officer Nang Seng said, “This is not justice. Five hundred dollars and some rice is no compensation for what Nhkum Hkawn Din went through.”
Nang Seng said, the Burmese soldiers are making one of them take the blame and are letting the others off.
“Her father was distressed and said ‘my daughter was exchanged with this money,’ when army authorities gave the compensation to them. The family wants justice not money,” Nang Seng said.
In Kachin state, where the Burmese military government has a ceasefire agreement with the main insurgent group, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), rape and murder by Burmese soldiers are common but victims fail to file charges in court or to lodge complaints at the army office because of fear of reprisal by the authorities, she added.
“There is still no proper investigation and senior soldiers involved in the case are literally getting away with the murder,” Nang Seng added.
She said the military government has used rape as a weapon of war in their campaign of systematic ethnic cleansing for a long time.