The military sent fully armed soldiers to internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Kachin State capital, Myitkyina, claiming that for health concerns it was necessary to check their population registries.
An IDP told KNG many soldiers arrived at Betlehem at 5:30pm June 24 and stayed for three hours to cross-examine who lived there with the camp’s official records. At the same time, Tatmadaw soldiers were sent to Zi un to search the IDP camp for four hours.
“We were shocked and afraid. I tried to hide in my room because I no longer felt safe in the camp. We were worried about what they might do to us. They came to our camp without reporting in advance,” said a woman afraid they will return.
The IDPs can’t return to their villages, the IDP explained. She said they live in the capital of Kachin State and still aren’t safe. “Where should we go to seek refuge?”
The searches came a day after Kachin Independence Army (KIA) attacked a checkpoint on the Irrawaddy Bridge (aka Bala Min Htin) connecting Myitkyina with Waingmaw.
Before the coup happened, the government and Kachin civil society organisations were helping IDPs who wanted to return home. Those who couldn’t go home were offered resettlement. Fighting between KIA and Burma Army has increased since the military took over the democratically elected government, preventing IDPs from leaving the camps.
Residents from Betlehem and Ziun camps fled fighting between Burma Army and Kachin soldiers in 2011. Their villages Gara Yang, Katsu, Gandau Yang and Namsan Yang are along the Myitkyina to Bhamo Road.
After living in the camps for over a decade, it is understandable that the IDPs are eager to return home as soon as possible. Under military rule, however, the people KNG spoke with said they want to stay in the camps and receive humanitarian assistance.