Help for the Kachin Displaced by Burma Army Attacks

Kachin State, Burma

30 June 2018

Inside makeshift living quarters at Trinity IDP camp.
Inside makeshift living quarters at Trinity IDP camp.

“This was the worst condition I ever have seen that Burma Army attacked the villages.”

– A local pastor regarding recent attacks in Kachin State.

Seven Kachin Rangers traveled to internally displaced people (IDP) camps in Burma Army-controlled areas recently to support and speak with IDPs in Kachin State. During the mission they visited six IDP camps and provided relief and encouragement to 3,341 IDPs.

These recently-displaced people came from Awng Lawt Village in Danai Township, Kasung Village in Mogawng Township, and over 14 villages from Njang Yang Township.  IDPs from previous displacements are also sheltering at some of the camps.

The local government has banned the construction of temporary IDP camps, therefore IDPs are sheltered at existing camps and churches, all short of space and materials. IDPs were unable to take household materials such as clothes with them when they fled. In the camps, they lack space to sleep, mats to sleep on, and are experiencing food shortages.

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The Rangers conducted Good Life Club (GLC) programs including songs, dancing and games, and they provided relief supplies to the IDP children and families.

The programs help point people to God, encourage them that they are loved, and provide a time of education and fun for the kids before the program finishes with gifts of clothes and food. During this time the Rangers taught basic health and hygiene care, helped to clean the camps, dug toilets around the camps, cut firewood, cut children’s fingernails, provided haircuts, and played games with the children.

The relief supplies they gave consisted of rice, cooking oil, onions, garlic, clothes, slippers, pillows, mats, female hygiene products and school materials. These relief supplies are crucial in helping these people survive and are an answer to prayer.

Rangers host a Good Life Club program for Tang Hpre IDPs.
Rangers host a Good Life Club program for Tang Hpre IDPs.

Njang Yang Township Displacement

Concern spread through the approximately 30 villages of over 2,000 people, surrounding Njang Jang Town when Burma Army Light Infantry Division 33 arrived in Zup Mai Yang Village at 3:00 p.m. on April 25th, 2018. There had been only 60 soldiers in that village from Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion 21 since 1990. The massive influx of troops spread fear among the people.

The subsequent attacks by the Burma Army troops confirmed the villagers’ fears. They had to leave again.

Once the soldiers had positioned themselves in the villages, two Burma Army jets began bombing the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) 4th Battalion area near Kawng Ra Village, killing one civilian’s elephant. Following this attack, some Kawng Ra villagers fled into the jungle, but they returned that evening.

On April 26 the village headman and community leaders met with the villagers of Zup Mai Yang to help them flee to a safer area. After walking four hours on foot, the IDPs reached Nen Yang Village at 4:00 a.m.

Around 11:00 a.m fighting between Burma Army and KIA troops began in the area, forcing the IDPs onward to Tang Hpre. At approximately 5:00 p.m. IDPs took refuge at Tang Hpre Catholic Church.

On April 27 at 9:00 a.m., IDPs were transferred to Nawng Nan Trinity Church compound. As the day continued, battles in the area escalated. The IDP flow increased, and the Burmese local authority blocked the road at 6:00 p.m., preventing IDPs from entering Tang Hpre.

IDPs were trapped in the jungle, caught between the Burma Army on both sides. Local community leaders from Peace Creation Group (PCG) and Kachin Baptist Church (KBC) urged the Burmese government to allow the IDPs to enter the town, but the Burmese government ignored the issue. PCG and KBC tried again on April 28th to urge the government to allow the IDPs refuge, yet local leaders met more resistance.

On April 29th the Burmese military opened the road, and 300 IDPs who had been stranded in the jungle around the town entered Tang Hpre Catholic Church.

Tang Hpre locals who helped to rescue IDPs said there are approximately 1,600 Njang Yang IDPs in Tang Hpre Catholic Church and Nawng Nan Trinity Church compounds. As of April 29th, rescue teams said around 600 more IDPs were still trapped in the jungle.

The villagers fled in a hurry, so most lack household materials and clothes. Villagers who fled later reported that Burma Army troops confiscated villager property and killed livestock and domestic animals in the villages.

KIA command reported to FBR on May 30 that LID 33 was transferred to Hpakant. Their convoy vehicles were said to have been loaded down with villager property.

Kachin IDPs at Trinity Church.
Kachin IDPs at Trinity Church.

Kasung Village IDP Background – Displaced Again

An estimated 500 Burma Army soldiers advanced on Kasung Village on August 11, 2017, preceding their arrival with rifle fire and artillery aimed at the village.

Burma Army troops detained 11 male civilians from Kasung who were forced to be porters. They were required to carry wounded Burma Army soldiers and be route guides. They were released on August 14th at Nyang Taw Post located five miles from Nam Ti Town.

Eight months later, on April 12, 2018, artillery preceded the Burma Army’s arrival again. 

One week following the artillery attack the Burma Army advanced into the area. On April 20th the Burma Army attacked with two jets and eight bombing runs against the Kachin Independence Army troops a few kilometers from Kasung Village.

The villagers decided they had to flee their village again, and on April 21 at 7:00 a.m they fled south. As they traveled toward Namti Town area they were held at Nyawng Taw Gate, because Hkun Than Zaw, commander in chief of Tactical Command Force, did not give permission for the IDPs to pass the gate. The IDPs were permitted to pass after five hours of waiting.

Fighting continued around Kasung Village following the villagers’ displacement. The Kasung Village population before the fighting was 1,400 villagers and 286 families. 

Villagers learned the Burma Army stole artifacts from the Kasung Church, material goods from village houses and killed domestic animals and livestock while the Kasung villagers were away.

Rangers with Kachin children in Kasung Village.
Rangers with Kachin children during a GLC program in Kasung Village.


Awng Lawt Village, Danai Township, Displacement

Danai Town in central Danai Township has seen much unrest this last year. The Burma Army has moved into many villages surrounding Danai Town to unseat the Kachin Independence Army from the area.

On April 11, 2018, the Burma Army began their assault east of Danai Town into Awng Lawt, Zup Mai, Sut Ra and Sut Ring Yang villages to further their reach.

At 2 p.m. on the 11th, the Burma Army fired 105mm Howitzer artillery from Danai Regional Operation Command (ROC) Base toward Awng Lawt Village, and two jets strafed the area with their guns twice.

Mrs. Hkang Da Htu Lum
Mrs. Hkang Da Htu Lum

For Mrs. Hkang Da Htu Lum, a 49-year-old Christian farmer from Awng Lawt Village, it was a traumatic day.  One of the artillery rounds struck nearby her husband, Npawp Yaw Han, who was wounded, and her son, Npawp Naw Ring, who was killed. Npawp Yaw missed his son’s funeral due to being unconscious from shrapnel to his head and legs.  He was devastated when he realized his loss.

Left: Npawp Naw Ring who was killed by a 105mm shell. Right: Npyaw Yaw Han who was Injured by a fragment of the 105mm shell. Both photos provided by Kachin Independence Army.
Left: Npawp Naw Ring who was killed by a 105mm shell. Right: Npyaw Yaw Han who was Injured by a fragment of the 105mm shell. Both photos provided by Kachin Independence Army.

On April 17, the Burma Army Infantry Division LID-101, LID-33, and Light Infantry Battalion LIB-86, LIB-238, LIB-318 under Danai ROC and Hkanti units raided Awng Lawt Village.  Shan Pyitutsit and Lisu Pyitutsit, who are local militias, supported the Burma Army.

500 families from Sut Ra, Sut Ring Yang and Awng Lawt villages fled for safety into the jungle.

Northern Command Commander Brigadier Tay Za Kyaw said during a press conference, “We, Burma Army troops, did not destroy any of their belongings except KIA set fire to a house. Everything in the village is still as normal. We only attacked the KIA.”

But local administrators returned to check their villages after Burma Army troops retreated on May 18th and 19th.  Burma Army troops were still operating in Sut Ra Village.

The Burma Army destroyed parts of Sut Ring Yang Village, having set fire to a house and having damaged rice storages causing the rice to pour out. They killed chickens, pigs, and cattle. Civilian property in the houses was destroyed.

The KBC and RCM churches’ doors were broken through and the tithe was stolen. Solar panels, batteries, inverters, and TVs were taken away. The Burma Army slept in the church.

The Burma Army took what they wanted and destroyed what they could not take. The doors were left open and cattle entered the churches. A house door was also left open and cattle entered. Some houses were not burnt, but their valuable belongings and cattle were lost.

A local pastor said, “This was the worst condition I ever have seen that Burma Army attacked the villages.”  He said this attack was meant to target the villagers so that they wouldn’t return.