The Attorney General of the Kachin Independent Government responds to China’s forced refugee repatriation

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

China Aid Association

(Laiza, Kachin—Sept. 4, 2012) On August 31, 2012, the Attorney General of the Kachin Independent Government gave a detailed description of the Chinese government’s forced repatriation of Kachin refugees and gave detailed answers to this journalist’s questions.

This journalist visited the Commission of Refugee Reception in Laiza prior to the official work hours, but all staff members were already busy at work. Since China began forcibly repatriating refugees, the Commission’s staff have been closely monitoring the situation and updating statistics on the latest developments.


Photo one: Staff making copies of statistics and data.

Photo two: Staff focused on work.

The Attorney General told this journalist that, according to the latest statistics, the Kachin refugees in Yunnan Province have been almost completely repatriated by China, and that only a small number of refugees have managed to stay in a few mountainous areas. The refugees remaining have been able to stay because the roads in the mountains are steep and the vehicles of the Chinese government cannot get to those areas. All the rest of the refugees have returned to Myanmar. It has been over a year since the war broke out, but only a small portion of refugees in Yunnan Province have stayed there for up to a whole year. The majority of refugees escaped to China, lived there while they could, and then returned to their home country. Regarding this, he said that they were grateful to the Chinese government for allowing many refugees to live in Yunnan during the most dangerous period of time, and that the Chinese government even sent 10 tons of rice to the refugees; however, the refugees mainly relied on donations made by non-governmental charitable organizations such as Christian churches in Yunnan. One point the Attorney General emphatically emphasized to this journalist was that the Kachin government did not make refugees escape to China; the refugees themselves decided whether and where to flee, and they escaped to places they considered to be safe.

Photo three: The Attorney General of the Kachin Independent Government.

Photo four: Staff analyze the current situation.

Photo five: Staff discuss the placement of refugees.

Regarding the refugees safety upon their return to Myanmar, the Attorney General said that the overall situation seemed to be peaceful at this time, but stated that in some areas such as Man Wing, some refugees live under the control of the Myanmar government troops.  He stated that the Burmese are not currently doing anything against the refugees and have not sent people to spy on them.  The Burmese probably are not currently taking action against the refugees because no battles are being fought right now; however, once open warfare resumes, the Burmese troops are very likely to seize the repatriated refugees to serve as forced laborers again.  Men who previously were seized by them to be porters were tortured so badly that they were reduced to skin and bones after only two weeks.  Refugees in this region are prepared any moment for the outbreak of war and the prospect of fleeing with their entire families.  Another thing the Attorney General was concerned about was the likely harm of drugs to refugees.  Public security in areas like Man Wing is not good and drugs are very accessible in these areas.  The Myanmar government has an open supply of drugs in large quantities and drugs dealers are very active. The Burmese use drugs as well as guns and cannons to control and destroy the Kachins. The Attorney General was very concerned that refugees in these areas would get involved with drugs.  He was even more concerned about the harm that drugs could do to the refugees than the violence the Burmese would inflict upon them.

Many people speculated that the Chinese government repatriated refugees forcibly because of pressure asserted by the Myanmar government. The Attorney General was cautious about this conclusion.  He reviewed the state of the series of talks with China since July of this year, with this journalist, and said, “China is a big country and one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.  I hope the Chinese government will urge the Myanmar troops to cease fire immediately and bring this war to an end. This will benefit us and benefit China as well.”

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
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