Myanmar Govt Arrests 20 Illegal Chinese Migrants Heading to Thai Border Town

By Htun Htun 25 August 2020

Yangon— Government officials and the security forces say they have detained 20 Chinese citizens, who illegally crossed the Chinese border in Shan State at Namtu in Kyaukme district on their way to Myawaddy in Karen State.

They were detained in downtown Namtu  on Sunday and immigration officials are investigating, according to Namtu Township’s Police Major Tint Swe.

“We have not yet opened cases against them. The immigration department is still investigating with a translator. We don’t know the details,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The Chinese citizens and their traffickers left Namkham Township in Shan State and were heading to Myawaddy on the Namtu-Mansan-Hsipaw-Mandalay route, according to the Namtu Township information department.

The military’s Tatmadaw True News Information Team also reported on the arrests.

Myawaddy has seen a surge in Chinese migrants since 2018 after the military-backed Karen Border Guard Force (BGF) implemented a city expansion project in partnership with a Chinese firm. Residents and civil society organizations have expressed concerns about the project’s lack of transparency. The increasing number of casinos run by the BGF near Myawaddy is another pull factor.

The BGF was formed in 2010 from a splinter group of the former Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, which is itself a faction of the then rebel Karen National Union.

In the second week of July, the military raided an illegal casino near the Myawaddy border and arrested four Chinese gamblers.

According to the Tatmadaw True News Information Team, the military detained 88 Chinese citizens who illegally crossed the border into Myanmar between July 14 and August 23, 68 in Shan State, 10 in Pyin Oo Lwin in Mandalay Region and 10 in Naypyitaw’s Tatkon Township.

Some crossed the border river to Muse in Shan State from China and reached Mandalay, it said.

They are normally charged under Article 13(1) of the Immigration Law for illegally crossing a border and deported after serving their punishment, police spokesman Colonel Kyaw Thiha told The Irrawaddy.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

You may also like these stories:

Myanmar Army Extends Unilateral Nationwide Truce, Excluding Rakhine State

Japanese FM Discusses Travel Restrictions, Rakhine With Myanmar State Counselor, Army Chief