Civilians displaced from their villages by fighting are demanding that Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) soldiers leave their camp in Kutkai Township after the armed group reportedly beat two of the residents.
Last week, MNDAA soldiers, who were reportedly drunk, accused Zau Rein, 31, and Maran Zau Bawk, 35, of being spies after the men returned from a fishing trip to Zup Awng internally displaced persons (IDP) camp.
About 200 residents met with 10 MNDAA officials to list their demands. A male resident told KNG they demanded an apology for assaulting the men, money to pay their medical bills, a guarantee that the army will solve any future problems by talking to camp officials and that the armed group will leave the camp as soon as possible.
KNG has previously reported on the residents’ efforts to get the MNDAA to leave the camp, which was established in 2011 and is located about 12 miles from Kutkai town. Since the military coup in February 2021, the 1,000 inhabitants have not received any humanitarian aid.
The Kokang armed group has been fighting the Burma Army (BA), which sometimes attacks the camp, since about 300 soldiers moved in at the beginning of the year.
In June, the junta shelled it and two bombs hit a house, killing Nan Lai, 56, and her 28-year-old daughter Dawng Naw instantly. La Awng, 85, suffered leg and back injuries and another person was wounded.
The MNDAA’s Kokang Facebook page reported in May that the soldiers were not disturbing the IDPs who needed their protection from the BA.
“Practically speaking, it is exactly the opposite of what they say,” said a man living in Zup Awng on condition of anonymity. ”They told us that they would protect us, but we would rather they protect us somewhere else, not in our camp…I think it’s just their propaganda and we do not trust them.”
During the meeting, MNDAA officers promised to pass on the information to their superiors but didn’t seem to listen to their demands, according to residents who were present.
“They’re communists. They don’t understand religion. They don’t understand our language. We don’t understand their language either and if there’s a problem, it’s very difficult to solve it,” the man said.
The residents said that the Kokang don’t seem to understand that living with them in the camp without their consent is a violation of their human rights.