The Wu Yang People’s Militia Force (PMF) has arrested several people for opposing the mining of ironstone in a community forest belonging to villagers in Waingmaw Township.
U Labang La Raw, a pastor and the leader of a committee that manages the forest near Awng Myay 1, also called Nlung Hka, and three other members were arrested by the armed group working with the military regime.
Local residents reported that since 29 May, the PMF has been using two excavators to remove the iron ore-bearing rocks from the forest at the foot of N’dung Bum (mountain), which is about 4 miles from the village.
An anonymous man who spoke to KNG said that all nine members of the committee approached the PMF on 3 May about the planned mining and urged them to stop it. They also complained to the township forestry department, district forestry department and the General Administration Department. The township forestry department suggested sending a letter to U Shwe Min, the PMF leader, which they did on 2 June. That same night, Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Battalion 3 attacked the group at the mining site and arrested two of its members, including an officer.
The PMF accused Labang La Raw and other members of having links to the KIA, which is fighting against the military regime, and forced them into hiding until he and some of the others were arrested.
“Everyone in the village knows that the committee complained to the regime’s forestry department and not to the KIA,” an anonymous source told KNG. She said the PMF is reported to have told the KIA that they’ll stop searching for the forest committee members if they release their soldiers.