October 28, 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.

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