Myanmar Army Tanks Roll into Myitkyina as Kachin Activists Gather

A group of politically active Kachin gathering in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina says they were very alarmed by the Myanmar army’s decision to send a convoy of military tanks and other military vehicles down the same road they were gathering on. In what the activists say was a clear attempt to intimidate them.  The convoy of about 10 vehicles appeared on a major road in Myitkiyna on September 9th as Kachin youth and representatives of a Kachin opposition party were gathering. 

“I think they rule the country with an iron fist. If something happens they show off their military power. It should not be like this. Especially when we are going to build a federal nation,” said Duwa Gumgrawng Awng Hkam, a long time Kachin activist and the vice-president of the newly formed Kachin State’s People’s Party.

Another Myitkyina based activist told KNG he considered the action to be a threat to the public. “People were shocked when tanks came into downtown. In other words its threatening people. From a peace perspective, it deviates from the peace process. Do they really want peace? People can ask questions about this” said Tsaji from the Kachin Development Network Group (KDNG).

Lum Zawng, the head of the All Kachin Students and Youth Union (AKSYU), also took issue with the convoy which occurred a day before a high profile court case filed by the army against the head of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) for recent public comments he made about the military to US President Donald Trump. The suit against the KBC chief has since been dropped.

“I think it wasn’t for the security of people but it’s showing off their military power. Because there is a court hearing today at the township court for the case involving the KBC chairman and the army. They intentionally showed off their military power to threaten people,” explained Lum Zawng.   Lum Zawng added that he saw no reason for the military to enter Myitkyina’s downtown or patrol the downtown area.

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