Human Rights Groups Demand Urgent Response from Burma’s Government of Whereabouts of ‘Disappeared’ Kachin Religious Leaders

Human Rights Watch and Fortify Rights called for the Burma government to release information on two ethnic Kachin Baptist leaders missing since late December.

The HRW and Fortify Rights statement said the two men, Langjaw Gam Seng, 35, and Dumdaw Nawng Lat, 65, “were apparently forcibly disappeared in Northern Shan State.”

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch said the “nature of the two men’s disappearance means the military has some serious questions to answer. This is a crucial case for Aung San Suu Kyi and other government leaders to demand cooperation from the army, which has continued to resist civilian authority.

The two church leaders had taken journalists to see a Catholic church allegedly destroyed by government airstrikes – Langjaw Gam Seng and Dumdaw Nawng Lat were last seen on December 24, 2016 traveling to a military base.
The HRW and Fortify Rights said the “disappearances raise grave concerns for the safety of the two men and witnesses to the incident, the two organizations said. The Burmese government and military should immediately address these issues and allow the visiting United Nations human rights expert to visit the area.”

Matthew Smith, the chief executive officer of Fortify Rights said the “apparent enforced disappearance of these two Christian leaders has created a climate of fear and terror in Northern Shan State.”

The HRW and Fortify Rights said that following a phone call, reportedly from the Burma Army, on December 24 at about 5:30 p.m., “to go to the Byuha Gon military base in Northern Shan State’s Mong Ko town, in Muse Township near the Myanmar-China border, to assist with the release of civilians detained there.”

The HRW and Fortify Rights aid that “local residents last saw the two men that evening traveling by motorbike towards Byuha Gon base, where Burmese Army Battalions Nos. 99 and 55 are located.”

Fortify Rights, chief executive officer, Matthew Smith said the “government should urgently investigate and report on this case and ensure protection for those with information.”

Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch, Deputy Asia Director said that “perpetrators of grievous abuses in Kachin and Shan States need to be brought to justice. Atrocities won’t stop so long as the military can commit them against civilians with impunity.”

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