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Amid fears of conflict in Injangyang, Kachin State govt looks to intervene

IDPs who fled their homes in Ingyangyang Township, Kachin State, are seen at the Tang Hpre Catholic Church in neighbouring Myitkyina Township. (Photo: Ye Mon / DVB)

MYITKYINA — The Kachin State government on Saturday intends to begin the process of rescuing hundreds of civilians trapped in Injangyang Township by broader regional conflict, with the Burmese military blockading the road linking it to adjacent Myitkyina Township to the west.

Speaking to DVB on Friday, Ja Seng Hkwan, an MP representing Injangyang in the state legislature, said the military was not allowing anyone, including lawmakers like herself, to travel to or from the township.

“The military’s troops are living in the people’s homes and they killed the people’s animals for food. Also the troops are [quartering] in hospitals and schools,” she said, adding that the troops’ presence had raised fears among the local population that fighting would break out.

Across several townships in Kachin State, clashes between the military — also known as the Tatmadaw — and the Kachin Independence Army have flared in recent months, the latest hostilities in a long-running civil war between the two sides in the country’s north.

The rescue effort will be coordinated among state government officials, members of the state parliament, political parties in Kachin State and religious leaders from the Myitkyina Christian Council (MCC).

Reverend Hkalam Samson, general secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention, said Ja Seng Hkwan told the MCC that it could participate in the planned rescue operation, but that the state government had not yet reached out to enlist the council’s assistance.

“She told me that we [MCC] can participate in the trip. But we haven’t yet got any official response from the state government,” he said.

According to the Injangyang Township MP, the state government does not envision moving the affected communities to Myitkyina immediately, and will instead first assess the situation on the ground.

Injangyang is one of Burma’s least-populous townships; the 2014 census tallied just 1,732 people.

Sut Seng Htoi, a leader of the Kachin Youth Movement Committee, told DVB that a political party informed the group that they would be able to participate in the state government-led rescue mission.

“Some people from Injangyang Township phoned me to say that they want to move to Myitkyina. I don’t know yet how the state government will arrange for them,” she said.

According to the Kachin Youth Movement Committee, there are an estimated 600 people trapped in Injangyang Township, with the Burmese military preventing them from fleeing their homes to the relative safety of the state capital Myitkyina or elsewhere.