Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Junta seizes KIO medicines as armed clashes loom

Tuesday, 31 August 2010 00:27 Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Junta military security and police this morning seized a year’s supply of medicines from a Kachin rebel motorboat docked on the Irrawaddy River in the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina, the boat’s skipper said.

The seizure comes amid heightened tensions between the ethnic peoples of the northern Burmese state led by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Burma’s ruling military junta, which is raising the ante over the KIO’s continued rejection of the order for it to bring its Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under junta command within the Border Guard Force (BGF) by September 1.

Adding to the strain, the KIA were gearing up for war on Friday while a majority of participants at a Kachin congress again rejected disarming despite a junta threat to end the ceasefire between the two sides, spokesmen said.

Analysts said the medicine seizures were designed to apply more pressure on the KIO.

Valued at an estimated 1.6 million kyat (about US$1,600), the drugs were confiscated by Military Affairs Security officials and officers from Police Station No.1 from the boat owned by the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) as it was moored at Kuthu Pier at about 9 a.m., the skipper said.

Kachin Independence Army (KIA) doctor Yaw Han had bought the drugs from the Saunghayman pharmacy in Myitkyina for the clinic at Htainnan village in Putao District where the KIA’s 7th Battalion was based, he said.

“We used to carry rice, cooking oil, salt, medicine and food. I don’t know why they confiscated the medicines this time,” the skipper said on condition of anonymity. “The authorities also warned us that they would arrest the boat’s owner and skipper next time, if they found medicines were carried.”

Yaw Han told the authorities he and the villagers had difficulty getting to Myitkyina from the village, which was why he had bought enough medicines for a year. The Military Affairs Security officers and police replied that they had confiscated the medicines in accord with orders from their superiors – that the Kachin were banned from carrying any medicine or food (on the river).

The confiscated medicines locked up at Myitkyina Police Station No. 1. The authorities told the KIO that they would return the medicines only if they received orders to that effect, sources said.

KIO leaders asked the junta why the medicines had been confiscated, but the junta had failed to reply.

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