Friday, 09 December 2011 15:40 KNG News – Kachin News Group
Chinese authorities in Yunnan province indicated they will shut down 16 temporary refugee camps located inside China and along its border with Burma’s Kachin and Shan States. Neither the UN nor other major international humanitarian agencies support these camps, which are estimated to house nearly 7,000 people, officially.
Yesterday, local Yunnan government officials told the roughly 2,000 refugees at a temporary camp in La Ying to go back to Burma or be returned by force.
Those officials told the refugees to go to Loije, now controlled by the Burmese government. This, the refugees do not want to do.
A list released December 9 by the Kachin relief group Wunpawng Ninghtoi (WPN) estimates there are presently an additional 4,800 refugees living in eight camps in Nongdao Township in Yunnan’s Ruili district—Nga Nawng Pa, Yang Lu, Nam Gu, Hka Dawng Pa, Nongdao, Lau Htaik, Na Kawng and Naung Taung.
The WPN says that an additional 6,000 refugees have taken shelter among the large migrant Kachin population in Yunnan province in cities like Jang Hkong, Mangshi, Ruili (Shweli), Baoshan and Kunming.
In a related development, government officials from China’s Longchuan region met today with representatives of the Kachin Independence Organization at the KIO controlled Ura Bum. Doi Pyi Sa, who chairs the KIO’s IDP and Refugee Relief Committee (IRRC), said that Longchuan officials expressed their wish to relocate back to Burma all the refugees who have crossed into China. Chinese officials have previously told the KIO to order all the refugees to return to Burma.
Doi Pyi Sa told the Kachin News Group, “We will not force refugees to come back to Burma. Let the refugees make own decision about returning home; we were not the ones who suggested they go to China in the first place.”
He added, however, that if China did remove the Kachin refugees who were unable to return home for security reasons, the refugees would be relocated to our (KIO) camps.” Nevertheless, supplies in the KIO camps are running low and many fear the camps cannot support more people.
Many refugees who fled to China told the Kachin News Group that they did this to avoid being killed or raped by Burmese government troops. Burma’s armed forces are known to routinely use civilians as porters and human mine sweepers.
Many Kachin have hoped that the Chinese authorities would be kinder to them considering the important role Kachin fighters played in aiding the Chinese anti-occupation forces during World War II. It was largely Kachin soldiers who fought in northern Burma to open up a strategic supply route to China. The famous Burma Road was used by the Allies to send desperately needed assistance to the Chinese resistance forces fighting against Japan.
This story was compiled by our correspondent in Mai Ja Yang, the second largest town controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization in Northern Burma.