The military-run Myawaddy newspaper published a Defence Ministry statement on January 28 claiming that the police are investigating the case, and that preliminary analysis indicates the Tatmadaw was not involved in the murders.
Several NGOs have alleged Myanmar soldiers, who had recently arrived near Kawng Hka Village in northern Shan State, carried out the January 19 attacks against the two teachers, Ma Tangbau Hkawn Nan Zing and Ma Maran Lu Ra, aged 21 and 20 respectively. They say villagers have said the women had been raped and alleged soldiers’ boot prints were found outside their residence.
The Defence Ministry statement says that police have been investigating this case since January 20, and as a column of government army soldiers were camped about 500 metres from the spot when the crime occurred, they too are been investigated.
The army has instructed the soldiers too remain in Kawng Hka Village; in order to cooperate with the police investigation, the statement says.
The military personnel have provided the investigation officials with security and have sent samples of hair from all the soldiers in the military unit for DNA testing. The statement adds that following police’s preliminary findings and those of the joint investigation committee, they believe the soldiers are unlikely to be at blame for the crime, the statement adds.
Views are mixed on how civil society organisations and the media should handle reporting the controversy over the teachers’ deaths.
Daw Khun Ja from the Kachin Peace Network said: “The Tatmadaw has not accepted responsibility. That’s why we urged the Tatmadaw [to shoulder responsibility].”
“A reliable investigation commission has not been formed. Only officials of the Home Affairs Ministry continue handling the case, and we cannot accept how they are proceeding. That is why we have made allegations just by basing them on our opinion that [the criminals might be] army soldiers,” she told Mizzima.
Myanmar Journalist Network’s general secretary U Myint Kyaw told Mizzima that on occasions the information published in media reports may not be correct.
“When people express their own opinions, news media may quote those sources, but what the sources say does not represent the media’s opinion,” he said.
“Sometimes, we try to ask the [Kachin] side, and sometimes we try to ask the side which has been accused. And as long as we write news by following media ethnics, they cannot allege we are destroying their public image,” he said.
“But if news media make allegations voicing an opinion in an article or editorial, problems can arise,” he said.