Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Ignored Car Accidents: Seeking Justice in the Shadows

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In a heartbreaking account, Nang Kham, a 24-year-old mother expressed her deep sorrow: “even though I filed a complaint with the police, they have paid no attention to our case due to our financial constraints. What options do we have in such a situation? I must find the strength to carry on, especially for my children”.

The incident unfolded on the 1st of September, 2023, when Nang Kham’s husband, Ko Chit Paing Moo, was on his way back after picking up his father on a motorbike. Tragically, as they entered Street No (1) in Jon Joe Ward, Muse, their motorbike was struck by a speeding car.

The impact of the collision flung Ko Chit Paing Moo’s body about 10 feet away, leaving him severely wounded. His father, too, suffered injuries to both legs, which were subsequently bandaged.

Given the seriousness of their injuries, both Ko Chit Paing Moo and his father were swiftly transported to the hospital. Tragically, Ko Chit Paing Moo passed away due to the intensity of his injuries, while his father’s condition remained critical, prompting a transfer from Muse Hospital to Mandalay Hospital.

After the car accident that tragically took Ko Chit Paing Moo’s life, he left behind his wife, a 9-year-old son, and an 8-month-old daughter.

Nang Kham, his wife, reported the incident to the police, but they showed no interest. Nang Kham sadly shared her story, her voice shaking with grief.

Muse township, China Burma border
Muse township, China Burma border.

“The car sped away right after the crash. Fortunately, they managed to obtain pictures of the vehicles from CCTV footage and used this evidence to file a report with the police. While the police did promise to investigate, their response seemed lukewarm, perhaps due to financial constraints on our part. As of today, there has been no progress or action taken on the case,” Nang Kham lamented with tears.

The late Ko Chit Paing Moo was the sole provider for his family, working as a casual laborer in Muse town to support his loved ones.

Their family had relocated from Southern Shan Mineshu/Mong Hsu to Muse town along the China-Myanmar border in pursuit of better job opportunities. Consequently, they have no other relatives in Muse.

With the untimely passing of her husband, who was the family’s primary breadwinner, Nang Kham now faces the daunting task of providing for her two children, while at the same time she has to seek justice for her late husband.

“I made sure to speak with the police chief the next day after my husband was cremated to ask him about the incident. When asked about the police’s initial response”, Nang Kham said, “His response was reassuring, assuring us that they were diligently working on it and would take proper action”.

Unfortunately, the police station hasn’t accepted any accountability for the situation to this day. Moreover, the police station has also taken Ko Chit Paing Moo’s wrecked motorcycle. Nang Kham is currently unable to work, caring for her baby who is several months old, and dependent on borrowed money to get by.

Nang Kham, originally from a different town and not a Muse native, finds herself in a dire situation following the loss of her husband, who was the family’s sole provider. She now struggles to make ends meet, unable to afford the rent and uncertain about her next steps.”

Lamenting her circumstances, Nang Kham shared, “Now, I have to borrow money from my husband’s relatives and my friends just to survive. My youngest daughter is only eight months old; that’s why I can’t do anything yet.”

Muse, situated on the Myanmar-China border, is a town where individuals from diverse backgrounds and regions flock in search of opportunities. Consequently, the area has become a hub where criminals and arms carriers/groups freely roam and thrive.

Hence, Muse witnesses car accidents almost daily, with a significant number attributed to drivers under the influence of drugs, as noted by a member of the local social and charity assistance association.

“In Muse, we’re witnessing car accidents nearly every day, some resulting in fatalities. When such incidents occur, the police come to collect information, but after that, no further actions are taken,” stated a member of the local charity group.

Additionally, a significant number of vehicles in Muse operate without licenses. Consequently, when accidents occur, taking legal action becomes challenging, and very few lawyers are willing to handle such cases. Moreover, there’s a lack of adequate criminal investigation efforts within the police department, emphasized a 30-year-old youth activist from Muse, who preferred to be identified as Aik Sai Tai.

“If an accident involves a car without a license, pursuing the case becomes exceedingly difficult, with very few lawyers willing to take it up. Furthermore, the police department’s priorities appear to be centered on apprehending protesters and individuals with political potential, rather than addressing common criminal cases like theft and robbery within the town and city,” noted Sai Aik Tai.

Despite the Police Station’s slogan proclaiming “Let us help you,” Aik Sai Tai expressed discontent, stating, “They seem to arbitrarily arrest innocent civilians and exacerbate the troubles faced by the people.”

As Muse serves as an important hub for border trade, a significant portion of vehicles operating here lack proper licenses. Consequently, filing a case with the police station after an accident becomes incredibly challenging. Moreover, identifying the perpetrator or driver involved in such incidents proves to be a challenging task, as explained by a member of the charity group.

The member added that out of every 10 vehicles in Muse, only 4 possess the necessary licenses.

“Most vehicles in Muse operate without licenses. In such instances, tracing the vehicle becomes nearly impossible. That’s why we advocate for strict adherence to traffic rules, whether it’s a car or a motorbike. Following these rules is crucial to preventing accidents. Additionally, we urge people to take responsibility for their actions,” emphasized the member of the local charity group.

In Muse, many families have faced incidents similar to what Nang Kham is going through. Therefore, even if they have the financial means, individuals who are unaware of traffic rules should refrain from driving cars, emphasized the local residents of Muse.

“We don’t wish this experience upon anyone else. Those who don’t know or obey traffic rules yet drive cars should face consequences. People shouldn’t drive just because they can afford cars; it’s time to put an end to such conduct,” pleaded Nang Kham, making a heartfelt request.

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