06/23/2016, 12.27
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Myitkyina, Burmese soldiers kill Kachin university student

The victim is 19-year old Gum Seng Aung, freshman at the City IT University. According to the government the soldiers responded to the young man’s attack by opening fire. Witnesses and local sources deny army's reconstruction. Activists are mobilizing online and demanding justice.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - More violence in Kachin State, northern Myanmar, once again with the military pitted against the civilian population. The Burmese army are reported to have shot dead a young man of 19, Gum Seng Aung. The attack took place on  June 20, at 9.40 pm, near the Thida army post in the urban area of ​​Myitkyina, the state capital.

According to local sources, Gum Seng Aung was a freshman at the IT University. Some Burmese Army soldiers guarding the Bala Min Htin bridge - crossing the Irrawaddy River and connecting to Myitkyina Waimaw - shot him dead.

The soldiers who fired are Nan Hee Dan Khin and Maung Maung, members of Battalion 727, assigned to the transportation and logistics of the Northern Division.

Witnesses said that the mode and the number of injuries, combined with the story of the two soldiers, would suggest the intentional murder of the 19 year old student. Some Kachin personalities, speaking on condition of anonymity say the crime committed by his superiors is being covered up.

The soldiers report that Gum Seng Aung would be part of a group that attacked civilians, accompanied at that time by a some soldiers they had asked for help to return to their homes. The young man reportedly died during a melee with the military, he was shot and killed.

However, some sources who arrived at the scene report that there were no signs of a struggle between the young and the soldiers and their uniforms were immaculate. The body of the young man showed signs of bullets from both sides, at shoulder height. In addition, witnesses deny there was a group of people responsible for the attack; on the contrary, the young man was alone or in the company of two friends who fled for fear of military retaliation.

Kachin activists have opened a Facebook page (pictured),demanding "justice" for the killing of the young Gum Seng Aung. The funeral scheduled for today will be attended by hundreds of friends and fellow students, who attended the same faculty as the 19 year old. He leaves behind his parents and a younger brother.

In a country of about 135 ethnic groups, peaceful coexistence has always been a struggle, especially with previous military governments being dominated by ethnic Burmese. In the past, the ruling military junta used an iron fist against the groups least amenable to central control, like ethnic Kachin, who live along the border with China in the north, and more recently, ethnic Kokang in Shan state, where the former president imposed a state of emergency.

In Kachin State, fighting between the Myanmar military and Kachin forces resumed in June 2011 after 17 years of relative calm. Since then, a battle between the Tatmadaw and Kachin has caused dozens of victims and almost 200,000 displaced people. The bishops of the area have launched and appeal for peace in the region, hoping for a lasting solution to the conflict.

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