Myanmar Girls Trafficked to China from Shan, Militia Detains Suspects

By Lawi Weng 24 January 2020

Lu Nan and Seng Hkawn, two ethnic Kachin girls from northern Shan State, have been missing for two months and were likely trafficked into China, according to the Kachin Literature and Culture Organization (KLC), a Kachin community-based group.

On Thursday, the KLC published information about the two missing girls, Lu Nan, 19, and Seng Hkawn, 18, and asked people to contact the organization with any information. The two girls are from Kawng Kha Village in Kutkai Township.

A local militia in Kawng Kha has detained four people who the KLC says transported the girls into China. Roi Seng, a KLC representative, said that on Tuesday, KLC members tried to open a lawsuit against the detainees for human trafficking but that when they went to the Kutkai police station, the police told them they did not have strong enough evidence against the suspects.

“If we do not have strong evidence against them, we will just waste our time. Therefore, the police told us to find more evidence,” Roi Seng said.

The KLC and the local militia were hoping to transfer the detainees into police custody, but police told the KLC that the police could not detain people for more than 24 hours if they did not have enough evidence of a crime.

Lu Nan and Seng Hkawn reportedly told their friends on WeChat on Nov. 30 that they had been trafficked into China’s Shandong Province, though it’s unknown where the girls are in the province.

“We tried to get [the girls’] voices from WeChat because that will be strong evidence,” said Roi Seng.

The two girls had been working in the Kokang Self-Administered Zone when they met Phan Awng and Tu Raing, two of the people now detained by the local militia. The two men told Lun Nan and Seng Hkwan that they would help the girls find better jobs with higher salaries in China. The girls left home with the two men on Nov. 28 and traveled to the border of China.

After crossing the border at the Man Wing Gate in Muse, Phan Awng and Tu Raing passed the two girls on to two women who claimed to work as agents for migrant workers in China. The two victims realized they had been trafficked when they arrived in Shandong and contacted their friends on WeChat.

A public notice on the girls’ disappearances.

On Jan. 18, the families of the two victims approached the KLC to ask for help in searching for the girls.

Roi Seng said KLC members are trying to collect more evidence and she will go back to the police station soon. She added that if the police say the evidence still isn’t strong enough to open a human trafficking case, she would open a missing persons case.

U Kyaw Nyunt, an officer with an anti-human trafficking police force on the China-Myanmar border, told The Irrawaddy Friday that victims’ families informed police in Muse on Jan. 20 that the two girls were trafficked in China.

“Our police force has an ongoing investigation into this case, so we can’t share any details about it yet,” he said.

According to the anti-human trafficking police in Muse, there have been many cases of Myanmar women who are trafficked into China and forced to marry Chinese men.

China’s one-child policy, which ended in 2015, and the country’s strong cultural preference for sons pushed millions of pregnant women into sex-selective abortions and caused many families to abandon female children or choose female infanticide. This produced a shortage of women in the country and as a result, many women from Myanmar and other neighboring countries including Cambodia, Laos and North Korea were trafficked into China.

Trafficked Myanmar women have often been sent to remote areas of China where local men struggle to find women.

Shandong Province has become infamous for human trafficking cases and most women from Myanmar who are trafficked are sent to Shandong, according to the KLC.

“We believe that they were trafficked, as they were sent to Shandong,” said Roi Seng.

In 2019, the police arrested 732 people for involvement in human trafficking. According to anti-human trafficking police, 358 people were trafficked in total, including 297 women and 61 men. Yangon Region and Shan State each recorded 65 cases, the highest number of any region or state in the country.

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