Tatmadaw officials have reportedly confessed to murdering three Kachin civilians, according local authorities attending court martial hearings open to the public.
The six Tatmadaw officials, including a commanding officer, made the admission during a September 19 hearing, according to Peter Bauk Naw, the administrator of Mai Hkwang Village.
“Six servicemen – two soldiers, three officers and the commanding officer – confessed,” he said, following the most recent court date.
The Kachin men, Maran Brang Seng, 22, Nhkum Gam Awng, 31, and Labya Naw Hkum, 27, were collecting firewood near their displaced persons camp in Mansi township on May 25 when they were detained by the Tatmadaw’s 319th Light Infantry Battalion. Fellow IDPs found their maimed bodies three days later.
According to postmortem records reported by the Irrawaddy, Maran Brang Seng sustained skull fractures, a bullet wound in his chest and another bullet wound in his left shoulder. Labya Naw Hkum sustained skull fractures as well as knife wounds, and a chunk of his left ear was missing. Nhkum Gam Awng had five knife wounds in each knee, and one bullet wound.
“The camp officials and I attended the trial. All the wives of the deceased men testified. The camp officials also testified,” Peter Bauk Naw said.
Ta Maw Naw Mai, an official from the Mai Hkawng IDP camp where the three men were living, said the relatives of the deceased want to see justice in the case. The soldiers said their testimonies would be sent to Nay Pyi Taw ahead of a final ruling, he added.
“The judge said he will immediately send them to the Northern Command tomorrow. He said they will make the arrangements and then make the ruling,” Ta Maw Naw Mai said.
Human rights groups have long accused both the Tatmadaw and ethnic armed groups of committing abuses against civilians in conflict zones, including kidnapping, torturing and murdering villagers. The perpetrators have rarely been held to account.