ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-084-2014
9 June 2014
BURMA/MYANMAR: Two men disappeared; presumed to be taken by military
ISSUES: Enforced disappearances; impunity; ethnic nationalities; rule of law; right to life; military
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has obtained information that two men who live in an Internally Displaced Persons' Camp, in Kachin State, in the north of Burma (Myanmar), have disappeared in the area where government forces are active. It has been almost one and half years since they disappeared and their families do not know their whereabouts.
On 12 December 2012, Swan Kha Naw Gyar and his brother, Swan Kha Gan Phan, had gone to Palaung Dain Sar village from an Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) Camp, to look after the plants. They had moved to the camp because of fighting between government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). The two men are civilians. Swan Kha Naw Gyar has a family with three children to take care of.
As the two men did not come back home for three or four days, their father with other three people from the IDP camp started to look for them. They found their belongings such as clothes and the food they carried on Bwan Kyaw Mountain, four miles from the village. According to the evidence on the ground, including prints left by boots and other features, they appear to have been taken into custody by government troops based in the area.
They searched the places where the two men might go but found nothing. Therefore, a group from the IDP camp complained to Major Kyaw Thu Win on 20 December 2012. Major Kyaw Thu Win said there were two columns in the area that day, and that they disappeared when the battalions went to the frontline. So he said that he supposed that the units had taken the two men as guides. He assumed he that they would send information later and bring them back home after some time.
Three days later, they went to meet Major Kyaw Thu Win again to get information but he said the battalions had not returned and he would ask them after they arrived. He also wanted them to make inquiries with other battalions as well. Thus, the family members tried to go to the places where they assumed the military might have arrested the two men but until now they could not get any information at all.
Further details are provided in the sample letter below.
The military in Myanmar has long enjoyed impunity for offences committed against civilians, and despite recent political changes, prosecutions of errant soldiers are extremely rare. Soldiers enjoy impunity from prosecution even in non-combat situations, such as in the recent cases reported by the AHRC where they have killed or raped civilians in urban areas: AHRC-UAC-122-2013 and AHRC-UAC-078-2014.
Conditions in Kachin State are particularly serious, and militarized, due to the continued conflict there. The AHRC in 2013 issued a dossier of cases from Kachin State in which many perpetrators were military personnel (AHRC-PRL-002-2013).
For many more cases and issues concerning human rights in Burma, visit the AHRC's country homepage: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/burma.
Please write a letter to the following government authorities to urge that the whereabouts of the two disappeared men be made known. If alive, they should be released as soon as possible. Whether alive or dead, action needs to be taken against the soldiers who abducted them. Please note that for the purpose of the letter Burma is referred to by its official name, Myanmar.
Please also be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar and, the regional office of the OHCHR in Bangkok, calling for their interventions into this matter.
MYANMAR: Military believed to have forcibly disappeared two IDPs
Name of victims:
1. Swan Kha Naw Gyar, 45 years old, Son of Swan Kha Naw,
2. Swan Kha Gan Phan, Residents of Man Wein Gyi IDPs Camp
Date and time of incident: 12 December 2012
Place of incident: Palaung Dain Sar village, Mansi Township, Bamaw Distict, Kachin State, Myanmar
Alleged perpetrators: Troops headed by Tactical Operation Commander Thura U Hla Myint from Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 15, Division 99, under command of Major Kyaw Thu Win; or, troops of Light Infantry Battalion 113
I regret to learn that two men from Kachin State in northern Myanmar have suspiciously disappeared at the hands of the army. It has been more than a year since they disappeared and no news has been received since then. Nor has the army taken any action to deal with this case.
According to the information that I have received, on 12 December 2012, Swan Kha Naw Gyar and his brother, Swan Kha Gan Phan, had gone to Palaung Dain Sar village from an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp to look after the plants they grew. The two men are civilians. Swan Kha Naw Gyar has a family with three children to take care of.
As they did not come back home for three or four days, their father with other three people from the IDP camp started to look for them. They had found their belonging such as clothes and food they carried by them on Bwan Kyaw Mountain, four miles from the village. They found evidence, including boot prints, to show that they had been taken by troops from Light Infantry Battalion 15 or 113, both of which were active in the area.
After searching for the places where the two men could go, they didn’t see anything at all. Therefore, a delegation of family members and officials from the IDP camp went to see Major Kyaw Thu Win on 20 December 2012. According to them, he said there were two columns going to the frontline on the evening of 12 December 2012: one group headed by Thura U Hla Myint and another from LIB 113. The day they disappeared was the same with the battalions went to the frontline so he supposed that the units had taken the two lost men as guides. He assumed that once the battalions reached their destinations then he would get information and the men would be sent home.
Three days later, the relatives and camp officials went to meet him again to get information but he said the battalions weren’t back yet and he would ask them after they arrived. He also wanted them to inquire at other battalions as well. Thus, the family members tried to go to the places where they assumed the military might have arrested the two men: the units stationed at Mai Khaung, Man Si, Bamaw, Nan Khan and Lashio, but they could not get any information at all. Up to now, the men’s whereabouts are unknown.
It seems clear enough to me from the above information that the army had something to do with these two men’s disappearance. In other circumstances where people like this have disappeared in Kachin State in recent times, ample evidence has pointed to army involvement, even though the military has denied it. For that reason, I urge that top-level investigations commence into the whereabouts of these two men, and the lives of persons from IDP Camp must be granted by the military. Finally, I urge you to take immediate action to stop serious human right abuses in Kachin State by seeing to it that the conflict in the region is brought to a halt and the area promptly demilitarized.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing
Commander-in -Chief of Myanmar Defence Services
Office of the Commender-in-Chief of Defence Services
2. Lt-Gen. Ko Ko
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439
3. U Thein Sein
President of Myanmar
4. Thura U Aung Ko
Pyithu Hluttaw Judicial and Legislative Committee
Pythu Hluttaw Office
5. U Aung Nyein
Pyithu Hluttaw Judicial and Legislative Committee
Committee for Public Complaints and Appeals
Office of the Amyotha Hluttaw
6. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Pyithu Hluttaw Rule of Law and Tranquility Committee
Office of the Pyithu Hluttaw
7. U Win Mra
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
27 Pyay Road
Tel: +95 1 659 668
Fax: +95 1 659 668
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)