Interview with authorities in Kachin State regarding armed conflicts
A media delegation led by Chief Editor U Tha Sein of the Myanmar News Agency (External) visited the conflict areas in Kachin State from 9 to 11 May.
During the three-day visit, the delegation visited churches where displaced people, who fled their homes amid armed conflicts, were sheltering and Awng Lawt area, where KIA’s brigade-2 was established, and is currently under control by the Tatmadaw.
The journalists interviewed Chief Minister of Kachin State Dr. Khat Aung, Kachin State Security and Border Affairs Col Thura Myo Tin, Kachin State Advocate General U Disinyal, Chairman of Kachin State Red Cross Supervisory Committee U Ge Nas, and officials.
Following is the interview with Kachin State Chief Minister Dr. Khat Aung.
Q: Is it correct that Kachin State Government denied the offers by international communities to give assistance to Kachin State?
Chief Minister: After coordination with the Northern Command, we permitted rescue groups depending on the security situation to go to the areas where the armed conflicts happened between the Tatmadaw and KIA. Some asked permission from the Kachin State Government to go to the areas. There are landmines in the conflict areas. We are responsible for safety for the international aid groups when they go to the armed conflict areas. It is not true that we denied them to go the conflict areas.
Q: Can you say that there is no people who are trapped amid armed conflicts?
Chief Minister: We can not say that there is no people who are trapped amid armed conflicts. Youths staged protests here recently demanding to rescue people trapped in the conflict areas. We have the same ambition with the youths. So, we asked them to give information on locations where the people are believed to be trapped, who needs health care services, etc. We, the Kachin State Government, will help them, rescue them by ourselves or by coordination with the Tatmadaw. Only when we hear the voices of the people, we can help them. We have formed committees to rescue and to aid the displaced people. We are ready to give our help to the people at the state, district and town levels.
Q: There are accusations. People are anxious. Can we say that there are political reason behind that. How is your government planning to return the situation into normalcy?
A: Maybe there are political grounds. The main reason is lack of peace here. We all must work together to achieve peace in Kachin State.
Q: Some said that residents are trapped in armed conflicts areas. I think the General Administration Department have the list of the people trapped in the conflict areas. What is the difference between the number of people who fled their homes and who were trapped in the conflict areas?
A: Some areas are within the reach of our administration, but some are not. For example, Awng Lawt area where the media delegation visited yesterday was not within our administration. First, we got the information that about 160 people were trapped in the Manwae. Of them, 30 have no household document. Kachin State Government have made arrangements to grant household documents to them. You can get the detailed information from the Director of the Immigration and Population Department and Kachin State Security and Border Affairs Minister.
Q: Is it correct that the Kachin State Government sent the displaced people to their relatives’ homes, not to the IDP camps? How about your opinion on the information that IDP camp is not allowed to be established in Tanai?
A: We transported them to their relatives’ homes on their own volition. The real situation is that they sheltered at monasteries and churches temporarily due to security concern. Now, IDP camps have been established and the Union Government and the Kachin State Government have provided assistance to them. NGOs and INGOs are also giving assistance to them.
Q: Kachin State Government said it is ready to rescue the people who are trapped once it gets the information. How can you carry out the rescue operation?
Kachin State Security and Border Affairs Minister: Officials of the Tatmadaw have promised that they will assist in rescuing the people who are trapped in the conflicts and will transport them to safe place. If the people need urgent medical care, the Tatmadaw will move them by helicopter. It depends on the choice of the people. Regarding the IDP camps, there are about 100 IDP camps in the government areas and non-government areas. This is not a good sign. We sent the people from Manwei to the relatives’ houses on their own volition. They want to return home but they don’t due to some pressure on them, I think.
Kachin State Social Affairs Minister: First, we moved the people from Manwei to Karmai. First, we sent the red cross members to the area and they got the list of people who want to stay at their relatives’ homes. You can check that list from the U Gae Nas, Chairman of Kachin State Red Cross Supervisory Committee.
U Gae Nas, Chairman of Kachin State Red Cross Supervisorty Committee: We sent the list of 28 households to the Kachin State Government. We, red cross members, were also together with the Kachin State Government when they transported the displaced people to the relatives’ homes.
Q: Could please tell the messages from the State Counsellor for the current situation here?
Chief Minister: First priority is the prevalence of peace and the second is the rule of law in Kachin state. The Rule of Law includes elimination of drugs. But, we can not work in full swing for the drug elimination here as we still not yet achieve peace. The next step is the social economic development. The whole country is facing the peace problem. If we have strong desire for peace, we can achieve it. Thank You.
By: Ye Khaung Nyunt