Burma Army’s commander Maj-Gen Zeyar Aung of the Northern Command visited Putao, (or Putau) to see if soldiers and residents were receiving enough rice.
The Burmese general asked Infantry Battalion No. 46 soldiers if they and their families were given enough rice from senior officers. According to a villager with close ties to the military, the soldiers were instructed by senior officers to lie to the commander.
“Senior military officers ordered the lower ranking soldiers to lie to Maj-Gen Zeyar Aung (before he arrived). They were warned that if they didn’t they would be punished,” the villager told the Kachin News Group (KNG).
The general also asked the township officials if they are if there is enough rice for residents. Township officials showed him rice for sale at fair prices in the market.
According to a reporter, they said that each resident can purchase two-cans of rice at 1,000 kyat (US $1.14) apiece.
When news broke in town there was rice for sale, residents rushed to the market. But when they arrived most of the rice was gone and many went back home empty handed.
The ongoing conflict between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and Burmese military has forced many farmers to abandon their farms. The fighting and low yield from last year’s harvest have created a food crisis in the region and made the community dependent on rice transported from Myitkyina.
But the fighting has also affected the supply routes from Myitkyina to Putao, (or Putau). Now the only way to bring supplies to Putao, (or Putau) is by air.
Last month, rice was transported to Putao four-times by a Burmese military aircraft. The rice was being sold for 450 kyats (US 51 cents) a can and each person was allowed to buy four cans from local authorities. Although the prices were low some people still couldn’t afford to buy it.
Many residents have to eat gruel which is causing widespread malnutrition and even death amongst elderly and children.
This story was reported by a Putao, (or Putau) resident.