Burma Link, April 28, 2014

Kachin National Organization (KNO) has received information of a serious case of arbitrary arrest and torture of seven Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the IDP camps in southern Kachin State, committed by the Burma Army. Four are still being held in the Burma Army camp.

A local relief worker reported to KNO:

“I would like to update you about the incident in Man Wing Gyi.  Yesterday, 21 April, there was a bomb blast near Man Wing Gyi that killed a soldier from Tat Ma 88 [Burmese army].  Right after the incident, seven people were arrested including three IDP high school students; Htoi Awng (19 years old), Zau Bawk (18 years old) and Doi La (16 years old)…  These three students live in rented shelters with their families on the same compound near the Man Wing Gyi IDP camp.  They were taken by the [Burmese] soldiers at about noon from their shelters.”

One of the victims, a Rakhine (Arakanese) man reported to KNO:

“The seven persons were arrested at different locations, some working on a water melon farm doing daily labor work and some on the road.  Two were released soon after their arrest on the same day.  The remaining five, the three Kachin students, one Rakhine national and one Chinese, were blindfolded and questioned, and kept in the sun for hours.”

“… After hours of questioning we were threatened to be killed, and the [Burmese] soldiers discussed among them who they should kill first. They then said that they should start with the Rakhine man. They took me away and fired a gun shot.  In fact, they did not kill me but they released me.”

According to the Rakhine man, the three Kachin students and one Chinese elderly man are still with the Burmese soldiers, believing that the Rakhine man has been killed.

“A Catholic Priest in Man Wing Gyi is negotiating for the release of these people”, he continues.

After more than 30 months since armed clashes between the Burmese military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) forces were first rekindled in 2011, there are now more than 120,000 IDPs in the Kachin State, aid organizations report.

Despite the ongoing peace negotiations, skirmishes have recently been increasing, with at least 5,000 newly displaced people this month alone.

Severe human rights violations and international crimes committed by the Burmese army remain common in the conflict areas, with crimes ranging from torture and unlawful executions to using rape as a weapon of war.