Some 1500 Kachin civilians protest against ongoing abuses
More than 1500 Myitkyina residents joined one of its largest protest against arbitrary detention of Kachin civilians on July 6 at 9 am in Myitkyina. Kachin pastors from Jan Mai Kawng Kachin Baptist Church and Myitkyina Kachin Baptist Association joined the protest. The involvement of Kachin leaders such as Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samson, the general secretary of 400,000 strong Kachin Baptist Convention, and Jan Mai Kawng Church's Pastor Rev. Lahpai Ja Naw, who is also a director of KBC's Evengelism and Mission department, was one of the most remarkable milestones in Kachin public's struggle for freedom and peace in Kachin State. The protest shows growing anguish among Kachin public for grave human rights abuse against Kachin civilians and support for ongoing struggle against Burma's quasi-civilian government which is led by former military generals.
The protestors demand for the government to be responsible for the security of internally displaced persons currently taking refuge in Myitkyina and Waing Maw Township, for immediate release of Lahtaw Brang Shawng who was taken from an IDP camp of Jan Mai Kawng Kachin Baptist Church and still being detained at Myitkyina prison for connection with KIO/A, to respect the rights of internally displaced persons living across Kachin State, and to have respect for justice in dealing with civilians.
Brang Shawng has been severely beaten by police and Burmese military's intelligent officers for several days and forced to confess that he has a connection with KIA. He was initially accused of being a KIA captain and later accused him to be a sergeant. His wife, Ze Nyoi, said her husband can speak just a little Burmese language and is hearing impaired, so interrogators must have beaten him cruelly as he can't answer their questions well. Brang Shawng has been hardly out of IDP camp for the last whole year. Brang Shawng's lawyer Mahka said his defendant was badly traumatized by continuous beating and even made a false confession because of tortures.
Burma's quasi-civilian government-run newspapers often mention that KIO/A is just a group of rebels who do not represent Kachin population at large. But the overwhelming supports that KIO received since the beginning of renewed armed struggle on June 9 of last year show the popular discontent among Kachin public for ongoing human rights abuses and continuous military rule in Kachinland for several decades.