On 19 November 2016, 22-year-old Karen environmentalist activist Naw Chit Pandaing was stabbed to death by an unidentified individual near a stage as she was preparing to take part in a fundraising singing competition held at the Shwewethiri sports ground in her hometown of Dawei, Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar.
Naw Chit Pandaing, also known as “Eh Paw Tel”, was a human right activist and a former worker with the Takabaw civil society organization. At the time of her killing, she was working for the Mine Advisory Group (MAG), an international NGO assisting people affected by landmines, unexploded ordnance, and small arms and light weapons. Prior to her death, Naw Chit Pandaing had been a strong advocate against human right violations, land confiscation and the negative impacts of mining in the area.
23 civil society organizations in Dawei, including the Dawei Women’s Union, Dawei Development Association, 88 Generation Open Society, Tenasserim River and Indigenous people networks expressed their concerns that Naw Chit Pandaing’s murderer is still at large. The murder case is linked to Naw Chit Pandaing’s work and this has become a threat to other activists working in the area.
Mine Advisory Group’s spokesperson Naw Elizabeth expressed her grief: “We want justice. It is a great loss for us to lose a young activist like her and her death is a huge loss.”
Tarkapaw organization’s Naw Pithalaw expressed her concerns regarding the treatment of the case by the authorities: “As time passes, cases like this are usually forgotten. We want the police to tackle this case seriously. Civil society organizations’ workers would only feel safe if this case is brought to justice. As long as the murderer has not been arrested, we will feel threatened”.