Since late October, the Lamung People’s Militia Force (PMF) has been taking money from boats traversing the Tanai River in the township of the same name in Kachin State.
A woman told the KNG on condition of anonymity that the armed group, which is under the command of Yaw Ba (aka Hkee Hper Wu), beats up boat operators who refuse to stop at their checkpoint and, when asked which organisation they belong to, replies, “You don’t need to know”. At least seven people have already been beaten up for refusing to stop at the PMF’s checkpoint at a junction between the Tanai and Lamung rivers.
“Some of the cargo boats have to pay between $140 and $190,” says the woman, and the PMF levies a tax of $10 for each barrel of fuel carried. Everyone on passenger ships also have to pay money to the soldiers.
Many fishers and farmers use the rivers to get around, as it’s faster and cheaper than getting around by land, which is more difficult these days. But people are worried since the PMF is extorting money from them. Villagers from La Mawng, Dai Hpa, Tonne Mani and Wan Palar in Shin Bway Yang Township rely on the river for travelling in the area and they want the PMF to stop harassing them.
The PMF, which consists of only 20 soldiers, was established in Lamung village, which is populated by ethnic Lisu. The armed group is under the Burma Army’s Tanai Regional Operations Command. After the regime’s deadly concert bomb attacks in neighbouring Hpakant Township, locals have seen the PMF soldiers patrolling with BA soldiers.