Displaced Persons Ordered to Leave Kachin Camp

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 16 February 2017

KACHIN STATE — Local militia authorities have ordered the relocation of Shing Chyai camp—home to around 1,000 displaced persons in Sadung sub-township of Kachin State Special Region 1—as soon as possible, camp leaders told The Irrawaddy.

Kachin State Special Region 1 is controlled by veteran militia leader Zahkung Tin Ying of the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K), which is firmly allied with the Burma Army and became a Border Guard Force in 2009.

The special region consists of Waingmaw Township, Sadung and Kambaiti sub-townships, and Pan War town.

A leader of Shing Chyai camp—who requested anonymity for his safety—said that Zahkung Ying Seng, who is a son of Zahkung Tin Ying, summoned camp administrators to his tea processing plant near the camp on Monday evening and told them to leave.

“He asked us who had built the camp here,” said the leader. “We said war victims who had fled clashes built the camp. Then, he asked us to leave, to go back to our villages as quickly as possible.”

“Zahkung Ying Seng threatened to set fire to the camp if we don’t,” said the camp leader.

Camp sources said that Zahkung Ying Seng’s tea plantations and processing plant are next to the camp, and that Zahkung Ying Seng ordered the camp be moved because some displaced persons had caused damage to tea plantations.

“Even if his tea plants are damaged by children from our camp, it will just be a few. Displaced persons from our camp won’t damage them,” said the camp leader, instead blaming the Chinese community.

Currently, camp leaders work as a ten-member committee to organize food supplies and health care for the displaced persons taking shelter at the camp.

The Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) has been supplying aid and camp leaders said they would inform the KBC of Sahkung Yin Seng’s order to move.

“We are worried, and afraid. So, we’ll inform the KBC and consult with them. They did not set a deadline for relocation,” said the camp leader.

Dr Hkalam Samson, general secretary of the KBC, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the military had blocked KBC from sending rice to Shing Chyai camp around one month ago, citing security reasons.

In December 2015, Pat Jasan, a local anti-opium group comprised of Kachin locals under KBC leadership, attempted to destroy poppy fields in Waingmaw and Sadung.

More than 20 Pat Jasan members were injured as the border guard force and militias opened fire on them. Local authorities threatened to behead leaders of the camp, accusing them of collecting information about poppy fields for KBC.

The Irrawaddy was not able to contact Kachin Special Region-1 authorities for comment.

Currently, around 1,000 displaced persons from 16 villages in Waingmaw Township are taking shelter at Shing Chyai camp.

The camp came to existence in November, 2011 following clashes between Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

Displaced persons said they could not go back to their homes as Burma Army soldiers were deployed near their original villages. The Burma Army, however, allow them to work on their farms in their villages during the daytime, though they are not allowed to stay overnight.