Some 2,000 ethnic Lisu protested against the Kachin Independence Army/Kachin Independence Organization (KIA/KIO), urging for a stop to the violence against Lisu people in the region.
Protesters from Myitkyina, Waingmaw, Sadone and Chipwi towns gathered in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina on Monday to press the Kachin ethnic armed organization to apologize for the violence against the minority Lisu people and to commit to stopping future incidents.
U Lar Se, the chairman of Kachin State’s Lisu Literature and Culture Association, said: “The protest occurred because our efforts to solve the problem through negotiations were unsuccessful.”
He said protestors had requested via the Kachin Peace-talk Creation Group (PCG) that the KIA punish the perpetrators as “the Lisu people had experienced atrocities.”
He referred specifically to the case of Lisu man U Zaw Lay from Khaxi village in Waingmaw town, who was allegedly killed by KIA soldiers in April, and whose body was not returned to his family for more than a month afterward.
“We are saddened as this case still has not been resolved,” said U Lar Se.
U Shwe Min, chairman of the Lisu National Development Party (LNDP), claims that the KIA has killed at least two Lisu people in 2017 including U Ngwar Lay from Sadone sub-township, which the KIA denies responsibility for.
“We want the KIA to stop the violence and apologize. In addition, the victims should receive support,” U Shwe Min said.
Lisu is one of the six Kachin sub-tribes; the others are Lhaovo, Lachid, Kachin, Jinghpaw and Rawan.
The KIA/KIO has been in conflict with the Burma Army for almost six years, after a 17-year ceasefire between the KIO and the former military government broke down. The KIA is still categorized as an “unlawful association,” but the government is attempting to negotiate with the armed group to include them in the current peace process.
Some Lisu people are also members of the KIA/KIO, according to local people.
U Lar Se said they are not protesting against one particular tribe of Kachin, but rather, they are “protesting the KIA, as the abuses happen repeatedly.”
The Irrawaddy was unable to reach the KIA and the PCG for comment at the time of publication.