Residents of Lon Khin Ward in Hpakant Township report that soldiers from the Military Council and police are harassing them for money when they are out on the street.
“We have to pay them whatever money they demand. If they see a jade stone, they will take that too. It’s getting worse,” a local man told KNG on the condition of anonymity.
He mentioned that there are approximately 30 soldiers and police stationed at a hilltop camp in front of the ward’s school. Every night after 10 pm, they demand money from people passing through the area, some of whom are returning from the jade mines. If individuals refuse to be searched, the soldiers resort to physical violence. They will steal whatever they can, including the miners’ flashlights.
Another checkpoint is set up in front of the two-face pagoda at the entrance to the ward, where soldiers and police extort money from truck drivers.
A local woman, also requesting anonymity, stated, “They’re like robbers demanding money from people on the street. Although I haven’t personally encountered this situation as I do not go out from my home at night, they stole 100,000 kyat ($48) from the tool kit of my friend’s motorcycle just a few days ago.”
Since the coup, the Military Council has imposed heavy-handed security measures in the jade-rich township in an attempt to deprive the Kachin Independence Army of lucrative revenue. This has led to an increase in civilian arrests, with some victims even being tortured to death during interrogations in detention camps. Concurrently, extortion by the local armed forces under the military regime has surged.