Earlier this month police arrested four Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and two local residents at Sarhmaw village in Kachin state's Mogaung Township, apparently under the suspicion they were on their way to a nearby refugee camp.
On the evening of June 7 police detained the four displaced individuals while they were sleeping in private homes. The small group had been traveling to an IDP camp and had stopped to spend the night in Sarhmaw town.
According to a local resident, three men Maru Awng, Labya Ma Di and San Htoo were arrested by police while they staying at Dabang La’s house in the Sut Len Yang section of town. A 14-year old boy named Dabang Ma Dut who was also traveling to the IDP camp was arrested in another home.
Two days later on June 9 authorities detained two local residents of Sarhmaw village, 87-year old Brang Hkum and another man named Dabang La.
The elderly Brang Hkum was released the next by authorities.
The arrest order for both incidents is believed to have come from the Mogaung-based Military Operation Command (MOC) No. 3. More than 30 officers and the head of the detachment came to carry out the arrests.
Dabang La still remains detained at the Mogaung Township detention center however the other detainees were eventually released after a few days.
A fellow resident described the arrests with the following “the head of the police and 30 police officers came to the church at Sarhmaw to investigate.
They asked about IDPs and when they didn’t see them, they went to the village. They arrested the people who came to stay at their relatives who didn’t have a chance to report to the authorities about staying for the night.”
It appears that all the detained individuals were arrested under the suspicion of being on their way to an IDP camp and being in contact with an illegal organization. Others in the area have also been arrested under similar circumstance according to a local resident, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
According to Awng Nan, who helps displaced families sheltering the IDP camp where the men were headed, there are now more than 200 people in the camp due to the conflict between the Burmese Army and Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Church groups and local NGOs have stepped in to provide assistance to the camp.