Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Burmese MPs donate money to Kachin war refugees

Tuesday, 13 December 2011 13:10 Myo Thant

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Seventy million kyat (about US $88,600) was handed over to Kachin State Chief Minister Lajun Ngun Sai on Monday, a personal donation from Burmese lawmakers to Kachin war refugees, whose numbers are growing.

“Legislators from our State Legislative Assembly asked for donations from MPs who are close to us, not from all,” said Dwe Bu, an MP. More than 1,500 clothing items were also donated, she said.

A family of Kachin war refugees at a KIO camp which is in need of more food, clothes and other supplies, say aid workers. Photo: Mizzima

Dwe Bu said that there were 140,113 war refugees in 29 refugee camps located in Myitkyina, Waimaw and Momauk townships. The Refugee Relief Committee chief Dwe Pisar estimated the number of refugees who have fled from Laiza, Maijayan, Manwin, Myitkyina, Waimaw, Momauk and other areas at about 45,000.

Dwe Pisar said the Chinese authorities are now putting pressure on Kachin war refugees in the Larein region in Yunnan Province to return home after they entered China to flee the fighting between the KIA and government troops.
The donation ceremony, held in the Myitkyina Town Hall, was attended by MPs, Kachin State government ministers and more than 600 local residents.

MPs making donations included Zaykabar Company owner Khin Shwe (30 million kyat); MP and Padamay Nagar jewellery Company owner Nay Win Tun (20 million kyat); MP and Yuzana Company owner Htay Myint (10 million kyat); and MP Tun Tun of Kachin State (5 million kyat).

During the ceremony, an order from President Thein Sein to the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces General Min Aung Hlaing to stop all offensives against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) was read out. The order was issued on Saturday, and confirmed by a spokesperson in the president’s office, but it has not been officially announced.

KIA spokesman La Nan told Mizzima that despite the order, the war was still raging in Momauk Township, an area controlled by the KIA 3rd Brigade of the 15th Battalion.

Regarding the donations made by MPs, La Nan told Mizzima, “We don’t need to say thank you for this assistance to war refugees who have fled from their homes because of the fighting created by the government forces. We must resolve the root causes of this problem.”

One of the largest ethnic armed groups, the KIA has been fighting government troops since June, when a cease-fire broke down. Kachin State is the home of proposed Chinese-backed hydropower dam projects, including the controversial Myitsone Dam, which has fueled dissent throughout the country.

In a rare bow to opposition groups and environmental activists, Burma’s president in September suspended construction of the Myitsone mega-dam.

In spite of cease-fire talks, fighting continues. The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) met with government peace delegates, but said the government continues to reinforce troops.

Despite of the lack of agreement, a government spokesperson told Agence France-Presse: “The president really wants to achieve peace with the KIA. He also wants them to know that this is his wish. That’s why he has been trying to solve this problem politically.”

Civil war has continued on and off in eastern and northern Burma since it became independent from British rule in 1948, including the uprising in Kachin State, which gathered momentum during the early 1960s.

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