Military Delays Villagers Seeking Refuge From Conflict in Kachin State

Villagers displaced by fighting in Kachin State were prevented from seeking safety in Myitkyina Township for nearly 12 hours by the Burma Army.

Over a hundred people from Gwi Htawng and Tan Bawng Yang villages, located in N’jang Yang Township, who fled conflict between Burma Army and Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/A), were held at a military checkpoint in Tan Hpre village. Fighting in the township on March 15 also uprooted civilians from Sanitu Yang and Pasizup villages.

Soldiers allowed them to proceed only after the Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group negotiated with military officers from Northern Region Military Command. They arrived at Palana internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp (aka Trinity and St. Joseph IDP camp) in Myitkyina Township on Tuesday, March 16.

According to a camp official, the IDPs had only returned to their villages in 2020 after living in the camp for many years. There’s still nearly 100,000 IDPs displaced by the conflict that restarted after a 17-year ceasefire ended in June, 2011.

Since KIO/A attacked a Burma Army camp on March 11, fighting has been happening every day in Kachin State. The attack happened several days after security forces shot and killed two protesters in Kachin State’s capital city, Myitkyina.

Villagers told KNG when the Kachin soldiers left the destroyed camp they were singing a popular protest song while flashing ‘three fingers.’ A gesture borrowed from the Hunger Games movie series that has become a symbol of resistance for protesters in Burma.

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