Saturday, December 28, 2013
Burmese army’s 121st Light Infantry Battalion (LIB), based at Mu Bum (Loi Lung Bum) which is located near China-Burma border in Loi Je County, withdrew its troops on Dec 27. Lamai Gum Ja of Peace-talks Creation Group (PCG) that brokered peace talks between KIO and Burmese government, and his group escorted 44 government soldiers led by deputy commander of 121st LIB as they headed to nearby town Loi Je. A KIA source said PCG group mediated between KIA and Burmese army’s northern regional command for safe passage and government troops arrived safely to Loi Je at about 2 pm.
Local Kachin sources said Burmese military trucks carrying soldiers, arms and ammunition had to pass through Loi Je and Loi Lung in China side of the border to reach to 121st LIB troops in Mu Bum. Chinese officials and police provided security for Burmese military trucks passing through Chinese territory in July of this year, claimed local Kachins.
Local villagers in both sides of the border said they have had to live in fear due to continued presence of Burmese army soldiers near their villages. The soldiers stationed at Mu Bum committed severe abuses and heinous crimes against local villagers in the past.
Lahpai Zau Lawn (age 53), a Loi Lung villager, was killed by Burmese army soldiers stationed at Mu Bum on January 12, 2012. He was shot at least 6 times by 121st LIB soldiers when he came across them on his way back from family farm. Another three villagers, Maru Dau Lum (age 31), Ze Dau (age 70), Sumlut Roi Ja (age 28) were taken by soldiers stationed at Mu Bum while they were working on their maize fields on Oct 28, 2011. Dau Lum and Ze Dau later escaped but Dau Lum’s wife Sumlut Roi Ja, who was 8 months pregnant at that time, was captured by the soldiers and believed to be raped and killed.
KIO delegation submitted a request last year to government representatives to withdraw Burmese army posts from KIA-controlled territory including Mu Bum post as the presence of 121st LIB troops often triggered tensions between the two sides.
Mu Bum, a former KIA-controlled area, was seized by Burmese army in 1991. Burmese army’s post is located behind KIA posts and virtually surrounded by KIA troops. A KIO official said 121st LIB troops withdrew from Mu Bum post for it was difficult for them to send food rations and they had to take perilous routes for troop rotation. “It is good for both sides, I think Burmese army has taken a step towards building trust by heeding one of our requests”, said the official.