A senior police official in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state said on Monday that authorities will investigate the deaths of three ethnic Kachin men found murdered after being detained last week by government troops.
Nhkum Gam Awng, 31, Maran Brang Seng, 22, and Labya Naw Hkum, 27, were taken into custody on May 25 by soldiers from infantry unit 319 while returning to their refugee camp after gathering firewood near Hka Pra Yang village, sources told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
Their bodies were found three days later in nearby Maikaung village, sources said.
Speaking to RFA, Kachin state police chief Tun Oo said that police have now opened an investigation into their deaths.
“The place where they were found is unsafe, and police don’t usually go there,” Tun Oo said, adding that land mines have reportedly been scattered through the area.
“But because of what has happened, we were able to go there with the help of local people who know their way around the area.”
“We are now conducting autopsies, and will work to discover whoever is responsible [for the deaths].”
The three who were killed had been detained with two others, who were released and returned to their camp after briefly being held, according to a May 30 report by Agence France-Press.
Their bodies, bearing gunshot wounds and signs of torture, were found on May 28 by residents of the camp, now home to many of the estimated 100,000 people displaced by fighting between ethnic separatist fighters and government troops in the region, AFP said.
Rights groups have accused both government troops and ethnic rebel soldiers of human rights violations in Myanmar’s conflict zones, including kidnapping, torturing, and killing civilians, and forcing them to work as laborers.
On May 22, thousands of ethnic Lisu protested in Myitkyina, capital of Kachin state, against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) for indiscriminately arresting and killing civilians and extorting money from them.