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An ethnic Shan group in Kachin state is seeking permission to stage a protest in Myitkyina against the abduction and forced recruitment of Shan people by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the northern Burmese region.
Thar Zone, patron of the Shan Ethnic Affairs Organisation (SEAO), said they had applied to hold a demonstration around 20 December in the state capital in front of the KIA’s liaison office.
“We submitted an application to the local authorities on 15 December seeking permission to hold a protest,” he said. “They promised to respond in 48 hours. If the permission is granted, we will stage the protest on 20 or 21 December.”
He said hundreds of Shan residents from Putao, Myitkyina, Waingmaw, Momauk and Mansi townships are expected to join the rally.
Saw Win Htun, the general secretary of the Taileng (Red Shan) Nationalities Development Party, said the protesters will be making two demands to the KIA.
“We have two main demands: to release some 100 people abducted by the KIA in Mansi township; and to stop collecting extortion money from the villagers,” he said. “And we would like both sides in the conflict to ensure incidents like this never again take place.”
He said that several days ago, the KIA ordered residents from 14 Taileng villages in Mansi township to each send five people to the armed group otherwise the village headmen themselves would be forcibly recruited.
The SEAO on 9 December sent a letter to the KIA and government authorities urging them to ensure that the villagers are released and to put an end to forced recruitments.
Naw Bo, coordinator of the KIA’s information wing, said the Kachin rebel group had no policy of forcing villagers to recruit and that the KIA was only summoning them to a meeting to discuss local affairs.