Villagers and internally displaced people (IDPs) are calling for the relocation of a new militia camp on the Ledo Road, which connects Kachin State to China.
The camp—built in May—is located around 100 feet from San Pya village and the Lawt Ja IDP camp. It is reportedly an ethnic Shanni People’s Militia Force (PMF)—an armed group backed by the Burmese military.
San Pya’s headman, Lay May Ta, requested that the militia not build their camp near their village when meeting respective officials, but they reportedly said that they had “orders from above” to set up a base there.
“I already talked to officials before they built it. I told them that local people wouldn’t agree to the building of the militia camp,” he said. “It’s not suitable to build a militia base near a village. It’s very close to the village. There is an IDP camp nearby.”
Lay May Ta also pointed out that forces belonging to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) are also deployed near the village.
“Local people are so worried about something will happen,” he told KNG.
The IDPs in Lawt Ja fled their homes in Tanai Township in 2017 due to clashes between the Burma Army and the KIA.
Zau Awng, who is in charge of the IDP camp, said that he is afraid “clashes could occur any time,” because of the militia camp, which is located on the same road that the IDPs depend on for their survival.
“We want this militia camp to be relocated,” he said.
The village tract administrator—who spoke to KNG on the condition of anonymity—also said he hoped the camp would be moved, and added that residents were “so worried about it.”
“Clashes used to occur in this area. They exchanged gunshots and shelled each other,” he said of the military and the KIA.
Nearly 40 villagers from Awng Ra and Ban Kawk villages, located near San Pya village, sent a petition to officials regarding the militia camp, and their fear of fighting in the area.
Duwa Lamai Gum Ja, of the Myitkyina-based Peace-talk Creation Group, said that clashes are possible if the government and the four members of the Northern Alliance of ethnic armed groups cannot sign bilateral ceasefire agreements during the Tatmadaw’s unilateral ceasefire period that ends this month.