Myanmar Coup Leader Met by Protests in Kachin State
By The Irrawaddy 21 September 2021
Kachin youths gathered in downtown Myitkyina to show their opposition to coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s visit to the capital of Kachin State in northern Myanmar.
Over a dozen youths staged a flash mob protest against the coup leader during his visit to Myitkyina over the weekend.
“Min Aung Hlaing, don’t you feel ashamed to come to Kachin land? Get out of Kachin Land,” shouted the youths in unison, despite the heavy presence of junta forces.
“We can’t welcome the military leader who has killed hundreds of people to our land,” said an anti-regime activist from Myitkyina.
Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing has visited Kachin State numerous times as the chief of the Myanmar military, but this was his first visit to Kachin since the February 1 coup.
Sunday’s protest was also the first time he has been booed by Kachin people, despite the fact that he has overseen military operations even before the coup that have killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands of people in Kachin.
Junta-appointed Kachin State Chief Minister Khet Htein Nan presented the coup leader with a Kachin traditional costume, bag and ceremonial silver sword, prompting huge criticism in Kachin circles.
Kachin communities have slammed Khet Htein Nan as a traitor to the Kachin people. He was condemned by the Kachin people for accepting the position of chief minister from the military regime and a series of protests have been staged against him, with some locals calling for social punishment against him and his family.
Khat Htein Nan has drawn fresh criticism following Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing’s weekend visit to Myitkyina, with Kachin people calling for a boycott of the clothing business run by his daughter.
The coup leader arrived in Myitkyina on Saturday and met military personnel and their families from Northern Command and the Myitkyina battalion, as well as junta-appointed Kachin State ministers.
At the meeting with military personnel, he repeated claims that he has made to soldiers in other parts of the country that Myanmar is in crisis because the National League for Democracy (NLD) rigged the vote in the 2020 general election.
“From what we have seen and heard the current political situation is quite complicated and there are serious armed conflicts in Kachin. Security is always in a state of emergency in Kachin. We heard that he came to give some guidance regarding that situation,” a source close to Northern Command told The Irrawaddy.
There have been frequent clashes between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar military since a bilateral ceasefire broke down in 2011, although fighting stopped for two years before the February 1 coup.
Since March 11, the KIA has attacked regime troops and police stations in Kachin and northern Shan State, inflicting heavy casualties on junta forces. Clashes have taken place in some eight townships across Kachin State. The KIA has claimed that the regime had brought in thousands of extra soldiers since late March.
The ethnic armed group has provided military training to civilians wishing to fight back against the regime, as well as giving shelter to political activists and NLD lawmakers wanted by the junta. Moreover, Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the parallel National Unity Government, is reportedly backed by the KIA and other influential Kachin politicians.
Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing likely attaches great importance to Kachin State as the KIA is viewed by the regime as the major ethnic armed group backing the nationwide revolt against the junta’s coup.
KIA information chief Colonel Naw Bu told The Irrawaddy that the central executive committee of the Kachin Independence Organization, the KIA’s political wing, had no comment so far on the coup leader’s visit to Kachin.
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