A Kachin man convicted of making false allegations against the Tatmadaw after he called for an investigation into the death of his daughter says he did not get fair legal treatment in the case.
Shayam Brang Shawng was found guilty by a court at Hpakant in Kachin State on February 13 of having made “false charges” against the Tatmadaw and was sentenced to either six months’ jail or a K50,000 fine.
He was released from detention after paying the fine and plans to appeal against the conviction.
“We did not get fair legal rights in the case,” Brang Shawng told Mizzima on February 17.
“As the death of my daughter is concerned with the authorities, the judge might be in an awkward position in this case,” he said of the verdict, handed down after 55 hearings over two years.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International issued an “urgent action appeal” over Brang Shawng’s case on February 17.
“Amnesty International believes that the charges against Brang Shawng are politically motivated and solely in retaliation for his complaint against the Myanmar Army,” it said.
“However, Brang Shawng could have faced up to seven years’ imprisonment and local orgaisations believe that international pressure might have helped him avoid a more severe sentence.”
Amnesty said Brang Shawng’s daughter, Ja Seng Ing, 14, died in Hpakant Township’s Sut Ngai Yang village on September 13, 2012.
It said witnesses saw government soldiers shoot her dead but the Tatmadaw claimed she was killed by a Kachin Independence Army landmine that exploded about the same time she was shot.
Amnesty said Brang Shawng wrote to President U Thein Sein on September 25, 2012, asking him to take action in the case and sent a similar appeal to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission on October 1, 2012.
“He did not receive a response to either letter. Instead, on 25 February 2013, he was charged under Article 211 of Myanmar’s Penal Code with making false allegations against the Myanmar Army in his letter to the MNHRC,” Amnesty said.
“The charges followed a complaint lodged by a Myanmar Army major to the Hpakant Township police office. It is unclear how the Myanmar Army accessed Brang Shawng’s letter to the MNHRC,” it said.
Amnesty said it would continue to monitor Brang Shawng’s situation and take further action if necessary.