The Kachin State People’s Party (KSPP), a newly formed opposition party has raised concerns about government policies that encourage the migration of workers from other parts of the country to Myanmar’s most northern state. The matter was raised by the party during a meeting between KSPP party officials and state government officials in Myitkyina on Friday, September 20th.
The issue was also raised in a letter KSPP officials sent to government officials on August 5th. In the letter, the KSPP stated its opposition to the government’s domestic migrant resettlement program in Kachin State, especially in Hpakant and Danai townships. In the letter, the KSPP also demanded that the government stop giving family registration to the newcomers and halt other policies that facilitate resettlement to Kachin State, like giving land to those who have migrated to Kachin State.
“We sent our opposition letter to the Union government. We have condemned this because there is no desire from local people. The NRPC ordered the Kachin State government to meet Kachin political parties. Then the Kachin State government directed the Minister of Security and Border Affairs. After this the Minister of Kachin State Security and Border Affairs received Kachin political leaders,” explained the KSPP’s interim vice-chair, Duwa Gumgrawng Awng Hkam.
Both the minister of Kachin State Security and Border Affairs, Col. Nay Lin Tun and the Minister of Kachin State Immigration and Human Resources U Zaw Win, met KSPP leaders Dr. Manam Tu Ja and Duwa Awng Hkam in Myitkyina on September 20th.
Reached for comment Duwa Awng Hkam said that indigenous people have long opposed the government’s domestic migrant worker resettlement program. He warned that such programs could impact the ongoing peace process and therefore the KSPP is opposed to the program.
“There is no vacant and fallow land in ethnic regions. They are planning to issue family registration documents and ID cards for non-local people (domestic migrant workers). I think they want to seize land plots from local people. Therefore the Kachin political parties have opposed this resettlement program,” Duwa Awng Hkam told the Kachin News Group.
According to local people in Kachin State, hundreds of thousands of domestic migrant workers have come to work in Danai and Hpakant area in the years that followed the 1994 ceasefire between the central government and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).
Another group in Kachin State, “Mungnawk Hkawng Uru Ga” has also made clear its opposition to the resettlement of workers to Kachin State.
“I think they don’t respect the rights of indigenous people. They are causing disunity among different ethnic people. Another thing is that they are trying to increase the population in ethnic areas for the 2020 elections,” explained Lamawng La Tawng, an official with the Mungnawk Hkawng Uru Ga.
According to the KSPP statement, Dr. Win Myat Aye, who is the Union Minister for Social Welfare and Resettlement, the Kachin state Chief Minister and the Kachin State Social Welfare Minister discussed the migrant resettlement program at the Kachin State government’s office in Myitkyina on June 24.
Government officials also discussed this issue in Naypyitaw on May 20. The Kachin National Congress party (KNC), another party that refused to merge with the KSPP, also released a statement opposing such migration as well.