Burma Army implicated in torture of Kachin pastor

Burma-armyMajor Myo Min Htun, a deputy commander from the Burma army's Infantry Battalion No. 137, is directly responsible for the torture of reverend Ram Mai in September in northern Kachin state's Putao district, according to officials from the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC).  The KBC is the largest church organization in Kachin state where a majority of the Kachin population is Baptist.

Four soldiers under Major Myo Min's command tortured Ram Mai after detaining him in his home in Nhka Ga village, according to Reverend Lama Yaw who visited Nhka Ga late last month. Ram Mai was originally arrested after government troops found an old hunting rifle in his home in Nhka Ga where he is the local Baptist church's most senior preacher.

During a meeting with KBC officials shortly after the pastor was released from four days of detention, Major General Tun Tun Naung, chief of the Burma Army’s Northern Regional Military Command acknowledged that Ram Mai was interrogated by government troops. The meeting which took place on September 18th was attended by KBC General Secretary Rev. Dr. Hkalam Samsun.

Burma army increases presence at Nhka Ga village

Over the past few weeks the Burma army has dramaticly increased its presence at Nhka Ga village, once a stronghold of the the Kachin Independence Army's (KIA) Battalion 7, according to the KBC's Rev. Lama Yaw.

The estimated 200 troops stationed in Nhka Ga have been busy preparing bunkers and fortifying their camp. Since government forces took control of the village in early September they have prevented the remaining 53 villagers leaving, Rev. Lama Yaw said.

All communication with the village has been severely restricted by government forces who also confiscated most the residents ID documents.

KBC has repeatedly requested that all the remaining villagers in Hka Ga villagers be evacuated to a KBC camp at Nawng Hkai. According to KBC the request was rejected by Col. Tin Myo Hlaing, head of the Putao Military Strategic Command. Similar requests by KBC to officials with the Kachin state government have also been ignored.

KBC asks UN envoy Nambiar to help evacuate Nhka Ga residents

On October 11, several senior KBC officials met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy to Burma, Vijay Nambiar. During the meeting the KBC representatives asked Nambiar to have the UN assist in the evacuation of the remaining 53 villagers from Nhka Ga, Rev. Lama Yaw told the Kachin News Group. KBC asked the UN to become involved because military and civilian officials ignored all requests to let the villagers leave from Nhka Ga, Rev. Lama Yaw said.

It is unclear what follow up steps Nambiar and his UN colleagues have taken since KBC met with the veteran Indian diplomat.
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