A teenager was stabbed to death in Aung Lan township of Magwe Region last Thursday. The perpetrator has been detained and police have filed a case against him pressing murder charges.
The perpetrator is a monk in his forties who is a resident of Aung Myay Kone Village in Aung Lan. He is now in Thayet Prison as police are compiling the case against him.
The monk stabbed 17-year-old Ko Ko Zaw in his throat and back while the teenager was helping to move a highway express bus stuck in the mud near Aung Lan’s Sakhan Gyi Village.
Ko Ko Zaw, also a resident of Aung Lan, was on his way to Tapala Village to sell goats, travelling together with his three elder brothers from their home in Aung Lan last Thursday morning.
At about 10:30 a.m., the road was blocked by a highway bus stuck in wet sand. Ko Ko Zaw and his elder brother, Ko Ko Maung, went to help lift the bus out of the mud.
“We were helping with other men when the monk came and asked which religion we practice. We told him that we practice Islam. He started verbally threatening us,” said Ko Ko Maung. “We did not do anything and the other men also counseled us to ignore him.”
“We were about to leave when my little brother Ko Ko Zaw was stabbed. He was behind us. After he was attacked, we took him to Aung Lan Hospital. But he did not make it and died on the way,” said Ko Ko Maung.
Despite the family’s account, Aung Lan Police Major Khin Soe told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the monk murdered the teenager “out of anger and there is no other reason, such as religious belief.”
The Police Maj. Khin Soe said the perpetrator has confessed to his crime and the police will be able to bring the case before the court within a month.
The man is charged with Article 302 of Penal Code. If found guilty, he faces twenty years in prison or a death sentence and a fine.
Ko Ko Maung said the family wants the culprit to “get what he deserves.”
“It is such a great loss for me, and I urged the government to protect our Muslim children from such kind of incidents happening again,” said Daw Aye Myint Zaw, the mother of the victim.
“He was murdered in front of a couple dozen people. It is not an unintentional attack and the attacker already had in his mind that he would attack any Muslim who used the road, as we transport and sell chickens, goats and cattle in the area,” she added. “My son was stabbed in life-threatening parts of his body multiple times. Therefore, I do not want a light punishment.”
The case is the first of its kind in Aung Lan and some locals and politicians are worried, as the victim and the perpetrator had no history of a personal grudge or similar motive.
U Aye Kyaw, the regional parliamentarian representing Aung Lan Constituency 2, said, “As the murder case is between the monk and a follower of Islam, we are concerned about what might happen as a consequence… as elections are near, and there is no history of a grudge between them.”
Dr. Khin Maung Aye, the social affairs minister of Magwe Region, told The Irrawaddy that although he does not know the case in detail yet, the perpetrator will be punished according to the law.
“We, the regional government, encourage the rule of law and any cases need to serve justice regardless of religious, criminal or political [intentions],” he said.