Last Friday, Burmese military troops operating in the Hpakant jade mining region of western Kachin State detained a 20-year-old civilian and then placed him in a rice sack before tossing him into a mining pit, according to witnesses who say the fall appeared to be fatal.
Eyewitnesses tell the Kachin New Group (KNG) that soldiers from Infantry Battalion No. 51 arrested Saga La Awng as he was returning from work in a nearby jade mine at Maw Mau Bum.
“He was detained and interrogated by government troops stationed at the Sein Aung company mine,” an eyewitness told Kachin News Group (KNG).
According to the eyewitness after he was arrested Saga La Awng “was put into a sack, repeatedly hit and was then thrown into a jade mine pit.” It is very unlikely Saga La Awng could have survived his fall given the depth of the pit the eyewitness said. Saga La Awng's relatives have yet to recover his body from the pit.
Troops began to use force against the young man after they became angry during questioning, according to the witness who wished to remain anonymous.
Earlier this year Saga La Awng and his family from Maw Mau Bum village took refuge at earlier at the Maw Wan Kachin Baptist Church following the outbreak of fighting near the home.
Despite the increase in heavy fighting in the Hpakant area over the past few weeks Saga La Awng continued to support his family by collecting raw jade stones, known locally as Yemase.
The apparently fatal tossing of Saga La Awng came two days after a September 5th incident in which a Kachin villager from Maw Wan was shot in the neck by government troops stationed at the Sharaw Hka jade mine. Kareng Naw Chyan, a father of two later died in hospital from his injuries according to his friends.
Currently, there are over 865 internally displaced people staying at the church where Saga La Awng had sought refuge. Those sheltering at the church face serious shortages of food and medicine, a church volunteer told KNG.