A stalled ceasefire means continuing conflict in the northern states, already tense after the rape and murder of two Kachin Christian women in January.
It is thought locally that soldiers from Myanmar’s occupying Army are guilty of attacking the women, who were both found dead in their rooms on a church compound on January 20. This has led to Myanmar police conducting DNA tests on soldiers in a bid to identify who killed them.
The murders sparked international outrage, and pictures soon circulated on social media showing the bodies of two brutally beaten women.
Maran Lu Ra, 20, and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin, 21, worked for the Kachin Baptist Convention as volunteer teachers at camps for Internally Displaced People in Kachin. Together with Shan State, it is one of two northern states bordering China, home to the Kachin people.
The area has been wracked by conflict between Myanmar’s Army and ethnic minority rebels in recent years.
In the days that followed the murders, local villagers alleged that soldiers from Myanmar Army’s Light Infantry Battalion raped and murdered the two women. The Army soon sealed off the area where the killings took place.
There have been many documented cases of sexual assault by Myanmar troops in Kachin since the Myanmar Army broke a 17-year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army in June 2011.
But highlighting these abuses has consequences. On January 28, the Myanmar military threatened legal action against anyone alleging that the military is responsible for the killings of the two teachers. The president’s office followed suit and directed the threat at the media.
Please pray for Christians who face the threat of attack in this region.