Civilians Detained by Burma Army in Kachin State

8 February 2018

Danai Township, Kachin State, Burma

Throughout the month of December, the Burma Army maintained its offensive in Kachin State and northern Shan State, with attacks against the Kachin Independence Army and other ethnic groups, focused in Mansi and Danai townships and near the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) headquarters of Laiza Town, Waingmaw Township. Below are three brief interviews with civilians who recently encountered the Burma Army in Danai Township.

Hkabawng Nan Seng, left, with her son, Galung Mung Hkawng Ru.
Hkabawng Nan Seng, left, with her son, Galung Mung Hkawng Ru.

Mother and Son Detained by Burma Army Soldier

Name: Hkabawng Nan Seng (mother), age 55

Village: Du Kawng Quarter

Occupation: Farmer

Religious Affiliation: Kachin Baptist Church

Name: Galung Mung Hkawng Ru (son), age 32

Marital Status: Married with three daughters and one son

On 14 December 2017, a Burmese soldier wearing civilian clothing and carrying a sword in hand intercepted a 55-year-old woman named Hkabawng Nan Seng and her 32-year-old son, Galung Mung Hkawng Ru. When soldiers asked the mother and son what their nationality was, both answered “Kachin.” The soldier slapped them, saying that if they were Kachin then they must also be [members of] the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). The soldier pointed his sword to the son’s neck, causing Hkabawng Nan Seng to cry and beg the soldier not to do so.

“My son is not in the KIA and not a soldier. We are going from the [rice] paddy field,” she told the soldier.

“I’ll kill you both. Nobody would know if I kill you and dump [you] here,” replied the soldier. After twenty minutes of engagement, the soldier took his sword and let them leave.

The victims added that Burmese troops came to threaten the civilian residents of Kai Du Ga Village who were setting up huts and making poultry and piggery in Hkabawng Nan Seng’s field, just eight miles from Danai Town.

“We would burn all your huts if you do not move,” the Burmese troops had threatened.

Combined Forces Halt Boats on River, Seize Civilian Property

Name: Lahtaw Bawk Tawng, age 36

Village: Ginsa Ra

Occupation: Seller

Religious: R.C.M (Roman Catholic)

Marital Status: Married, two daughters and one son

At 3:30 p.m. on 22 December 2017, a combined estimate of 50 Burmese soldiers and Lisu P.T.T.s (local militias of ethnic groups who are conscripted by the Burma Army) stopped boats coming from the Ta Wang side of the river, roughly seven miles from Danai Town. When the first boat did not stop at the command, the Burma military group fired ten M79 rounds on the still-running boat but the boat escaped. After seeing the incident, the second driver stopped his boat. All passengers were told to get out of the boat and asked to surrender their mobile phones.

The Burmese soldiers threatened to throw mobile phones in the water if their owners tried to hide them. An unknown man was punched when pictures of soldiers were found in his phone.

During the same incident, the combined Burma Army and P.T.T.s confiscated over 100 motorcycles, which civilians had hired as commercial vehicles, and 100 mobile phones. The combined forces ordered the boat owners to dismantle their engine heads. Using axes, troops hacked apart ten engine boats. At 5:00 p.m. the combined forces of P.T.T.’s, Burma Army soldiers, and police used two large trucks to carry away the confiscated motorcycles.

Civilians, under duress, drove the other motorcycles while soldiers rode behind them. At 8:00 p.m. they arrived at the Danai Bridge and all were forced to go into the Danai police station. At 10:00 p.m. they were given back their mobile phones and were allowed to leave but did not receive back their motorcycles.

Burma Army Soldiers Question Local Man and Village Administrator

Name: Dupsa La Seng, age 31

Village: Ginsa Ra, Kachin State

Occupation: Farmer

Religious: KBC

Marital status: Married, has one son

At 12:00 p.m. on 6 December 2017, ten Burmese soldiers led by a lieutenant from IB-238 arrested a man, named Dupsa La Seng, on a motorcycle, one mile from Danai Town. The soldiers asked him where he was going and searched inside his motorcycle toolbox. He answered that he was going to harvest a nearby rice paddy.

The soldiers said, “You are a KIA soldier. You come to investigate us. You are coming from the Awng Lawt Village. It is impossible that you are going to paddy field.”

“I am not a soldier; I am [a] Ginsa Ra villager,” La Seng replied.

The soldiers then asked him to pronounce the names of village administrators and to show his identity card. As he did not have his ID card, the soldiers tied his hands behind his back, blindfolded him with a longyi, and then hit him with wood and flogged his body seven times.

“Don’t lie [to] us,” said the soldiers. “We know you are KIA lieutenant.”

“I am a civilian. I have tied a cow in my field,” he said.

“We will check if your cow is in the field. If we do not see [it], we [will] shoot you to death,” replied the soldiers.

“Yes, if you do not see a cow you can kill me,” replied La Seng.

After that, a soldier went by motorcycle to see the field. After ten minutes, the soldier went to tell his lieutenant to say that the road was very muddy.

Another soldier arrived and asked the man again about his identity. La Seng’s reply didn’t change – he was a civilian and he was going to his paddy field.

The soldiers released La Seng at 4:00 p.m. After removing the blindfold, the soldiers said, “Don’t come back [to] this side again. Go home very quickly. Do not stop on the way. We will open fire if you stop.”

The next day, La Seng, who was now with a village administrator, came across the same soldiers. At that time, the soldiers said, “We told you not to come back this way.”

The soldiers asked the village administrator to go to another place and then they questioned La Seng for 30 minutes.

The soldiers confiscated La Seng’s sword and told him, “If you had come across the LID troops, you would have been killed. You are not in any hurt because you faced the same soldiers.”

Finally, the soldiers called the village administrator back and told the pair they could take the next two or three days to harvest before releasing them.