Kachin Villagers Recall Terror of Laiza Shelling

Sau Nam and her 2-year-old son Jang Ma Bawk San recover in Laiza Hospital on Wednesday after being injured in the Burmese army’s artillery attack on central Laiza. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

LAIZA, KACHIN STATE—Sau Nam sits on an old bed in Laiza’s small, rudimentary hospital, holding her two-year-old son Jang Ma Bawk San tight. Since Monday she has not let him out of her sight, after both of them nearly lost their lives that day.

Still in a slight state of shock from the event, Sau Nam quietly recalls how they and an older couple were warming themselves around a fire in the morning cold when a Burmese government artillery strike on Laiza town took them by surprise.

“I heard a whooshing sound of an incoming shell, grabbed my child and threw myself to the ground. Then there was a large explosion and a lot of smoke and dust,” she said. “When I tried to stand up I felt great pain in my left foot; a big piece of flesh was missing. I was bleeding a lot and couldn’t walk.”

“My child was also bleeding a lot from an injury above his right eye, but I was very relieved to see he was not too seriously injured,” Sam Nau, 38, said, adding that she later discovered that shrapnel also hit her left thigh.

The couple had not been so lucky. “Other people ran to help us, and I saw that the man who had been standing was now lying on the ground with a terrible injury to his stomach,” she said. “Then another explosion happened a very short distance away and everyone became very panicked”

Nhkum Bawk Naw, a man his 50s, who was standing around the fire at the time of the explosion, was fatally injured. His wife Nang Zing Roi Ji sustained severe shrapnel wounds to her back.

The second of the shells—both of which were fired into Laiza’s central Phar Kyan Kyawt quarter shortly after 8 am—exploded near a home, killing elderly church deacon Malang Yaw Htung and a 15-year-old boy named Hpauyu Doi San Awn. A 10-year-old girl Langjaw Nu Jai was seriously injured in her lower body.

Nang Zing Roi Ji and the girl were brought to Mangshe hospital in China for further treatment on Tuesday. Phar Kyan Kyawt quarter was quickly evacuated and on Monday night the Burmese army fired two more artillery rounds into the area, but no one was injured.

Sau Nam and her son, and some of the other victims are among some 15,000 internally displaced Kachin villagers who came to Laiza in recent months to escape the violence. Another 20,000 local residents are sheltering in their homes.

Sau Nam said she abandoned her farm in Na Lung, a village about 25 kilometers southwest of Laiza.

“My village is now occupied by the Burmese army, but my husband stayed there to look after our livestock. I am very worried about him because I do not trust the Burmese army soldiers who now hold the village. I fear they may kill him,” she said, looking weary after her tribulations.

Fighting between the Burmese army and the Kachin Independence Army has engulfed the region since a cease-fire broke down in June 2011 and in recent weeks it has drawn closer to Laiza, terrifying residents and displaced villagers.

According to aid groups, food, water and medicine are in short supply in the town, which is located in a valley on the Burma-China border near the KIA’s headquarters.

On Wednesday Laiza was calm, but many villagers were preparing to leave out of fear that indiscriminate shelling will worsen. Most are heading north to other displaced villagers’ camps located along the Chinese border.

“We hear every day that the Burmese troops are making a serious offensive and coming closer and closer to Laiza,” said Sam Nau, adding that after her brush with death she is determined to leave with her son, despite her injuries.

“I dare not stay in Laiza now, even though I know I can no longer feel my injured foot because of nerve damage and walking is almost impossible,” she says.


4 Responses to Kachin Villagers Recall Terror of Laiza Shelling

  1. The Government of Burma must use the same model for peace negotiation. We Kachin demand the peace model government applied with the WAs, Maing Lar Groups, Karens, to which the talks were done under peaceful environment, friendly and no military pressure.
    With Kachins, the Government use military pressure and dialogue at the same time (Special model). The military intrusion and attacks usually committed by the Government troops on the days of the peace talk. The invitation for the peace talks come along with the heavy military operation. The Kachins will never talk under the gunpoint. US must urge the Government of Burma to use the same Peace model they used for other groups to Kachin, it will be absolutely OK. Kachins are waging defensive war, for now, even escaping war, no way to give trouble to the giant army and to intrude to the mainland Burma. The Government said that KIA disturb the troops travel to deliver the rations to the Government military posts, WHY they have the military posts in the KIA areas, isn’t apparent intrusion and for the purpose to ignite the war. KIA is simple, defending their land and their peoples from the brutal foreign troops.

  2. The ongoing war in Kachin State illustrates the fledgeling democrary in Burma and the military overwhelming in Naypyidaw. The peace process can be shattered into pieces any time.
    What if all the armed ethnic groups join together and launch counter attack on the government troops, what would the Thein Sein government say to the world about its transformation?

  3. This is the time for all the rebel organizations to band together and fight against the Burmese Army. What are you guys waiting for?

  4. George Than Setkyar Heine

    LOBBING HEAVY ARTILLERY SHELLS INTO THE MIDST of the CIVILIAN POPULATION is MOST COWARDLY and HEINOUS ACT of Min Aung Hlaing led MERCENARY (China’s) BURMA ARMY of course.
    KIA and ABSDF will CONTINUE to DEFEND their POSITIONS and LAIZA as well to the LAST MAN trust me.
    Specifically, the ABSDF is comprised of Burmese students who left the country in the wake of the military takeover of Burma and took up armed struggle against military rule since 1988 until today.
    The August 8, 1988 (8888) nationwide uprisings against the authoritarian rule of former/late dictator Ne Win is the HALL MARK of the Burmese people’s STRUGGLE to RESTORE DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM and HUMAN RIGHTS in their country.
    Hence, the 8888 GENERATION STUDENTS led by Min Ko Naing and his colleagues and members of the ABSDF (armed wing) of the 8888 STRUGGLE AGAINST MILITARY RULE as well SHOULD NOT GO INTO OBLIVION much less THROWN INTO THE DUSTBIN of HISTORY by Than Shwe’s GENERAL RUNNING AMOK in Kachin Land today I say.
    Today, LAIZA the LAST BASTION and SYMBOL of DEFIANCE AGAINST ARMED/MILITARY OPPRESSION AGAINST our ETNIC BRETHREN the Kachins and the PEOPLE of BURMA as a WHOLE as well is UNDER THREAT of INVASION by Min Aung Hlaing, CHINA CHOSEN C-in-C of the BURMA ARMY with a view to PROTECT CHINESE INTERESTS (Myitsone Dam Project, rails, roads, pipelines etc.) in Kachin State IN PLACE of SAFEGUARDING the LIVES and PROPERTY of the PEOPLE of BURMA (Kachins included).
    CAPITULATION of LAIZA WOULD BE AKIN to SENDING our GLORIOUS 8888 NATIONWIDE STRUGGLE AGAINST AUTHORITARIANISM into HISTORY and OBLIVION as well of course.
    WE SHOULD/WILL NOT LET THIS HAPPEN guys!
    In that view and scenario I CALL ON Min Ko Naing and his 8888 GENERATION STUDENTS and ALL STUDENTS, PEOPLE and Buddhist MONKS as well in Burma to SHOW their DISGUST/DISPLEASURE on the BRUTAL WAR ONGOING in Kachin State where Min Aung Hlaing is USING BANNED WEAPONS (jet fighters, helicopter gunships, heavy artillery) on the KIA, ABSDF and the CIVIL POPULATION as well today.
    And Daw Suu just saying ” the war in Kachin should stop immediately” as well is NOT ENOUGH as well.
    She should DEFINITELY PRESS SUBSTANTIALLY for IMMEDIATE CESSATION of ALL HOSTILITIES in Kachin State specifically the ONGOING ASSAULTS/BOMBINGS on LAIZA and KIA/ABSDF POSITIONS in the PARLIAMENT at Naypyidaw and IMMEDIATELY as well.
    Also, GOING to Kachin State and MEETING with Gunn Maw and his KIA and ABSDF as well no exception would be BEST for WORKING OUT and FINDING the ANSWERS to RESOLVE the CONFLICT.before LAIZA FALLS and the 8888 Nationwide Struggle for Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights as well THROWN INTO THE DUSTBIN of HISTORY no less.
    Of course Daw Suu NEEDS NO INVITATION much less BEG the QUESTION as well for that matter as IT IS A NATIONAL URGENCY/MATTER since SHE IS AN ELECTED MEMBER of PARLIAMENT, HEAD of the MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY (NLD) not to mention HEADING the RULE of LAW COMMISSION as well to INTERVENE in this MATTER and at this TIME and JUNCTURE as well when/where Min Aung Hlaing is USING EXCESSIVE FORCE and BANNED WEAPONS and UNJUSTLY as well on the ethnic Kachin people and THREATENING to COMMIT a GENOCIDE on the Kachins and Burmese (represented by ABSDF) while TAKING LAIZA which the KIA and ABSDF as well would DEFEND to the LAST MAN (believe me) just to PROTECT CHINESE COMMUNISTS’ INTERESTS in Kachin State and BURMA on the long run I say.
    Most specifically and importantly as well, Daw Suu, Min Ko Naing and his group MUST LEAD the PEOPLE of BURMA and SHOW their SUPPORT, SYMPATHY and SOLIDARITY with our BRETHREN Kachins in this HOUR of their DESPERATION and NEED and CALL FOR IMMEDIATE CESSATION of HOSTILITIES AGAINST the KIA and ABSDF as well in the form of NATIONWIDE MASS DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST the ONGOING OFFENSIVES (one sided as well) by Min Aung Hlaing’s HORDES in Kachin State in case Than Shwe’s China picked GENERAL CHOOSES to CONTINUE HIS OFFENSIVES on Laiza of course.

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