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PRESS RELEASES, OPEN LETTERS, STATEMENTS
 

Burmese government urged to investigate the enforced disappearance of Sumlut Roi Ja

28 October 2014

On the third anniversary of the abduction of Sumlut Roi Ja, an ethnic Kachin woman from Burma, we, the undersigned organizations, call on the Burmese government to thoroughly investigate her enforced disappearance and hold the perpetrators accountable.

On 28 October 2011, Burma Army soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion 321 abducted 28-year-old Sumlut Roi Ja along with her husband and father-in-law from their family farm near Hkaibang Village, Momauk Township, Kachin State.

Soldiers suspected the three had ties to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) – an ethnic armed opposition group. The soldiers ordered the three at gunpoint to carry corn to their outpost on Mubum mountain. Sumlut Roi Ja's husband and father-in-law managed to escape, evading the soldiers’ gunfire, on the way. Witnesses saw Sumlut Roi Ja at the camp several days before she disappeared.

Sumlut Roi Ja’s family members filed numerous petitions asking authorities to disclose her fate or whereabouts. However, both military and civilian authorities have consistently refused to investigate Sumlut Roi Ja’s disappearance and prosecute the soldiers who abducted her. In March 2012, Burma’s Supreme Court rejected a writ of habeas corpus submitted by Sumlut Roi Ja’s husband two months earlier. The Supreme Court claimed there was no evidence that the army had detained Sumlut Roi Ja before her disappearance. Burma Army officials even denied having detained her. Sumlut Roi Ja is still missing and presumed dead.

The case of Sumlut Roi Ja underscores the ongoing serious human rights violations perpetrated by the Burma Army in Kachin State, including the deliberate targeting of civilians in conflict, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detention, and violence against women. More than 70 cases of sexual violence by Burma Army soldiers against women and young girls in Kachin State and Northern Shan State have been recorded between the resumption of conflict between the Burma Army and the KIA in June 2011 and June 2014. At least 20 of the victims were killed.

As 2014 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Chair, Burma has a particular responsibility to uphold the principles of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), which stipulates that all individuals have a right to life and to personal liberty and security and that no person shall be subject to arbitrary arrest, search, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty. The AHRD also recognizes the right of every person to an effective and enforceable remedy for violations of rights granted by the constitution or by law.

We, the undersigned organizations, urge the Burmese government to:

• Establish an independent and impartial parliamentary commission with a mandate to investigate the disappearance of Sumlut Roi Ja and identify the perpetrators.
• Ensure that perpetrators in this case are brought to justice, regardless of rank or position.
• Sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and incorporate its provisions into national law as a matter of priority.
• Immediately cease violations of international humanitarian and human rights law against ethnic minority civilians in conflict and ceasefire areas, including violence against women.

Signatories:

1. 88 Generation (Peace & Open Society)
2. Action Committee for Democracy Development
3. Action for Dignity and Development
4. All Arakan Students' & Youths' Congress
5. ALTSEAN-Burma
6. Arakan Youth Network and Development Organization
7. Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
8. Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition
9. Bago EITI
10. Bago Youth Network
11. Bridge - Kachin
12. Burma Campaign UK
13. Burma Partnership
14. Center for Youth and Social Harmony
15. Chin Youth Network
16. Civil Authorize Negotiate Organization
17. Community Response Group
18. Community Youth Center - Karenni
19. Cordillera Peoples Alliance (The Philippines)
20. Danu Youth Network
21. Democratic Party for New Society
22. Denmark Kachin Community
23. Equality Myanmar
24. Ethnic Youth Network
25. Farmer Rights and Development Organization
26. Farmers Union- Magwe
27. FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights
28. Focus on the Global South
29. Fortify Rights
30. Forum for Democracy in Burma
31. Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)
32. Free Burma Coalition-Philippines
33. Genuine People's Servants
34. Green Network Sustainable Environment Group
35. Grow Back for Posterity
36. Hands in Unity
37. Highlander Associations (Cambodia)
38. Humanity Institute
39. Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Network
40. IFI Watch Myanmar
41. Info Birmanie
42. Institute for Asian Democracy
43. Jinghpaw Laili Laika hte Htunghking Hpung
44. Justice and Peace Commission - Catholic Bishop Conference Myanmar
45. Justice for Peace Foundation (Thailand)
46. Kachin Alliance
47. Kachin Association Japan
48. Kachin Association Norway
49. Kachin Association of Australia
50. Kachin Canadian Association
51. Kachin Community in Europe
52. Kachin Communities Netherlands
53. Kachin Development Networking Group
54. Kachin Farmers Network
55. Kachin National Organization
56. Kachin Peace Network
57. Kachin State Urban Rural Mission
58. Kachin Women Association Japan
59. Kachin Women Peace Network
60. Kachin Women's Association of Thailand
61. Kachin Women Union
62. Kachin Youth Central –Ginjaw Ramma
63. Kachin Youth Organization
64. Kaladan Development Foundation
65. Kapaeeng Foundation (Bangladesh)
66. Karen Development Committee
67. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network
68. Karenni National Women’s Organization
69. Karenni Network of Women Organizations
70. Karenni State Youth Network
71. Karenni Youth and Women Organization
72. Karen Women Empowerment Group
73. Karen Women's Union
74. Karen Youth Network
75. Karuna Myanmar Social Services
76. Kham Ho Center
77. Lachid Literature and Culture Association
78. Lawyers' Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (Nepal)
79. Magwe EITI Watch Group
80. Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability
81. Myit Makha Watch Group
82. Naga Youth Network
83. National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organizations in the Philippines
84. National Network for Education Reform
85. National Youth Forum
86. Nau Shawng Education Network
87. ND-Burma
88. Network for Democracy and Development
89. New Zealand Kachin Community
90. NGO Federation of Nepalese Indigenous Nationalities (Nepal)
91. NGO Gender Group
92. Paoh Youth Organization
93. Partners Relief & Development
94. Paung Ku
95. Public Network Bago
96. Pyo Khin Thit Foundation – Maubin
97. Rainfall Gender Study Group
98. Research and Translation Consultancy Cluster
99. Sha-it Social Development Foundation
100. Shan Youth Network
101. Shwe Gas Movement
102. Social, Economic and Gender Research Institute
103. Spectrum
104. Students and Youth Congress of Burma
105. Taang Students and Youth Organization
106. Taang Women Organization
107. Taang Youth Network
108. Tavoyan Women's Union
109. Tavoyan Youth Network
110. The Seagull-Mandalay
111. Thuriya Sandar Environmental Protection
112. Triangle Women Support Group
113. Union Lahu Youth Organizations
114. Voice of Women
115. We For All (Japan)
116. Women Initiative Network for Peace
117. Women Peace and Security Initiative
118. Women Peace Network – Arakan
119. Women Political Action 2015 – Myanmar
120. Women's Organizations Network Myanmar
121. Won-Lark Foundation
122. Wunpawng Ning Htoi
123. Yangon School of Political Science
124. Zomi Youth Network