This past weekend in Kachin State, Burmese government troops robbed an estimated 8 million Burmese kyat (US$9,164)—which included 21,000 Chinese Yuan (US$3,333)—of church offerings from local residents.
According to villagers, the soldiers stole the money from individual houses. Specifically, the soldiers involved in the robberies were those of Light Infantry Division No. 88, who are currently conducting an offensive against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in the Sadung region in Kachin State’s eastern Waingmaw (Waimaw) Township.
The Burmese Soldiers came into Saga Pa Village on Saturday, August 11, shortly after a nearby battle with the KIA’s Battalion 3 troops. More than 100 Burmese soldiers entered into Saga Pa Village, robbing the villagers of money designated for the church, as well as their personal belongings. The villagers were detained in five houses while the soldiers scavenged their vacant houses, a victim told Kachin News Group.
Another resident affirmed, “Some soldiers guarded the villagers in five houses while the rest of the soldiers went from house to house stealing money. They took all of the money they found, including 21,000 Chinese Yuan.” Each house was robbed an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 kyat (US$115-$229).
The robbery began at 9 a.m. and lasted until about 2 that afternoon, according to the villagers.
Before leaving, the soldiers informed the villagers that they had the option to press charges.
The villagers are devastated, as both their church offerings and personal savings are gone.
Some villagers, however, plan to take action—they are recording their losses and preparing to sue the soldiers, said the villagers.
This is not unusual behavior from the Burmese Army, said local military observers.
Furthermore, it is a systematic action which the Naypyidaw government authorizes.
Villagers in the Kachin State and Northern Shan State warzones explained that Burmese soldiers are stealing civilian property such as food, livestock, and money because the government does not supply them with enough rations.