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The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) has reportedly requested the Burmese government forces hand over two of their soldiers captured late last month.
Speaking to DVB last week, San Aung, a mediator at ongoing peace talks between the two sides, said the Kachins raised the issue during the bilateral Conflict Negotiation and Resolution Joint-Committee monthly meeting on 5 July.
He said the KIA, armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), requested the two men be turned over to them because they were wanted in connection with drug abuse and had deserted their posts when they fell into the Burmese army’s hands.
The KIA’s administrative officer Hpukjang Ze Lum and Lt. Brang Seng from the KIA’s 6th Battalion based in jade-mining town Hpakant, were captured on 28 and 30 June respectively by Burmese government troops.
“The KIA representatives at the meeting said the two have a history of occasional drug abuse and were warned to lay off the habit by their superior officers amid the group’s narcotics suppression programme,” said San Aung.
“After receiving multiple warnings, they went into hiding for a time to evade arrest by their commanders but they ran into the Burmese army and got captured.
“The KIA is asking for the men to be handed over so they can take action against them in accordance with their own procedures.”
The KIA’s spokesperson La Nan denied knowledge of the cases, and said such issues are for the Conflict Negotiation and Resolution Joint-Committee to deal with.
According to the Kachin News Group (KNG), Brang Seng was allegedly tortured by Burmese soldiers after his capture and hospitalised in Myitkyina with a broken arm and a gunshot wound to this thigh.
The report did not allude to any allegations of drug abuse, however KNG cited a named KIA source, Lt-Col Naw Bu, saying that the Kachin delegation had requested the two men be handed over into their custody at the 5 July meeting in Myitkyina, the Kachin state capital.
The Conflict Negotiation and Resolution Joint-Committee consists of representatives from both the KIA and the Burmese military, and was formed in May this year as part of a bilateral agreement to kick-start peace talks.