In a surprise midnight crackdown the Burmese military junta arrested a youth leader and several ethnic Kachin youths yesterday in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State in northern Burma, said sources close to the detained.
The arrested were Kachin youth leader Labang Gam Awng and several dozen Kachin youths, most being members of the Education and Economy Development for Youth (EEDY), the youth-wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), which refuses to accept the junta-proposed Border Guard Force (BGF), said the sources.
Kachin youths danced cultural Manau in Myitkyina. Photo: Kachin News Group.
This is the first arrest of its kind in the 16 year-old ceasefire between the Burman-led military junta and the KIO, where there have been mass arrests of KIO members at one go, said KIO’s sources.
Gam Awng, youth leader of the Myitkyina-based Kachin Nationals Consultative Assembly (KNCA), which represents all Kachins in Burma was arrested from his rented house in N’Jang Dung village in Tatkone, also called Dapkawng quarter in the capital at midnight by multiple security forces--- soldiers, agents of Military Affairs Security (MAS), police and quarter’s administrator.
Till now, no reasons have been given for the arrest of Gam Awng.
He served as a member of Manau Acting Committee in the annual Kachin cultural Manau festival marking the 62nd anniversary of Kachin State in Myitkyina from January 5 to11 this year.
Over 50 Kachin youths were also picked up from their houses in Shatapru quarter by the junta’s forces during the midnight crackdown, said local residents.
Sources close to the detainees said all detainees have been arrested and interrogated at the Myitkyina-based Northern Regional Command Headquarters (Ma-Pa-Kha) of the junta. No one has been released.
The crackdown on the Kachin youths came after electricity was cut off for 24-hours in the whole of Kachin’s capital, said local people.
The arrest of the KIO youths followed the junta’s arrest and interrogation of local Kachin people in the capital after the serial bombs explosions in the Myitsone hydropower project in Irrawaddy River, 25 miles north of Myitkyina on April 17.
The latest arrests follow the KIO demand that the junta release detained KIO members in the capital when they met top military officers at Northern Regional Command in Myitkyina on May 14.
The junta’s latest action reveals it is going to confront the KIO and reject its demand.
KIO officials and local military analysts see in the latest arrests of KIO youths the junta’s increasing pressure on the organization to accept the proposed BGF under the control of the Burmese Army.