Today the big story is that a Burmese exile living in Australia has confessed to a spate of murders on behalf of Burma’s military intelligence apparatus.

Nobody seems quite sure what to make of Htoo Htoo Han‘s claims that while working undercover he killed 24 reputed anti-government activists. Long-time Burma activist, Myint Cho, and Assistance Association for Political Prisoners representative, Tate Naing, have both questioned the reports and the motivations of the confessor.

Thorough investigations will be required. Of course, unless there is a bizarre deviation from existing practice, it is very unlikely that anybody in the Burmese government will be prepared to vouch for Htoo Htoo Han’s confession. And former military intelligence cadre who may have known him, or even worked with him, will prove shy of any extra attention. The covert nature of the crimes that Htoo Htoo Han claims to have committed ensures that any evidence will be very difficult to verify.

Does this mean we might end up merely with the word of the self-confessed trigger puller and nothing else?

Perhaps. But this case could still be a significant opportunity for those who hope to see a fuller accounting of the horrors of Burma’s recent past. Such accounting will require at least some cooperation from those who were active participants. Htoo Htoo Han may be able to help with this process.