Nov. 2, 2015 11:08 PM EST
HKAPANT, Myanmar (AP) — Brang Shawng had never written a letter to the president before, never even dreamed of it. But he’d heard that his country was changing, and that the military junta in Myanmar had given way to a civilian government. And he believed that in this acclaimed new democracy, he could find justice for a 14-year-old girl shot to death.
So he wrote a letter to President Thein Sein, a former general, telling him how the army had killed his daughter in what witnesses say was a burst of gunfire. He sent a complaint to Myanmar’s human rights commission, launched just four years ago. He asked for an investigation.
What happened next shattered his faith. He got the court case he wanted — but it was not the army that was put on trial.
It was the bereaved father himself.
Daniel Aguirre, an adviser to a non-profit conducting legal training in Myanmar, said the case was representative of everything that was wrong with the system.
“Where do you turn for help?” asked Aguirre, who works in Myanmar for the International Commission of Jurists, a Geneva-based legal advocacy group. “If you have rule of law without human rights, you have the law being used against the people.”