Burma army soldiers shot and injured a Kachin preacher while he was attending a local religious leaders meeting last month. The April 27th incident which left the preacher seriously injured, occurred at Chipwi village north of Myitkyina.
Preacher Ding Chang says that at 8:30 AM he was struck in the knee by a bullet while he was at the Chipwi church. The shooting happened while Ding Chang was taking part in a meeting of the Chipwi Zonal Baptist Association. The bullet appeared to have been fired by Burma army soldiers who were stationed very near the Chipwi church.
Ding Chang who is from Chang Maw Kone Baptist church told the Kachin News Group, “I was shot in my right knee cap. I can’t walk anymore.”
According to Ding Chang, a colleague who was also attending the meeting narrowly escaped injury when a bullet grazed his head, clipping some hair in the process.
The day before Ding Chang was hit, several bullets struck buildings belonging to Chipwi church. The next day when more bullets were fired at the church it became apparent to those present that the shooting was deliberate.
“We realized they were really targeting us”, said one of the church leaders who was present on the morning of April 27.
The Chipwi church is part of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), the largest Kachin religious organization in Burma with over 300 churches and 400,000 members. Many of those present during the shooting feel that the army targeted the church to send a message to KBC because it launched a public prayer campaign at all of its member churches when the Kachin conflict began last June.
The former general secretary of KBC, Rev. Dr. Lahtaw Saboi Jum, played a crucial role during negotiations between the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and the government that led to a 1994 ceasefire
agreement. The truce was in effect until last year when the Burmese army attacked the KIO.
Two days after Ding Chang was hit, a Burma army column stationed at a nearby village fired mortar shells at civilian homes in Chipwi. Two homes were completely destroyed by the shells.
Following the shelling, many Chipwi residents opted to flee to Waingmaw, a town about 10 miles northwest from of Chipwi, according to displaced villagers.