Chinese authorities push Kachin refugees back into Burma

Chinese authorities push Kachin refugees back into Burma

Villagers in northern Shan state who fled into China as fighting between Kachin Independence Army and Burmese military intensified were booted out by Chinese border guards.

On 6 July, about 1,500 residents in Panghsai township, near the border with China, attempted to cross into the neighbouring country after being ordered to evacuate their villages by the Burmese army.

The refugees were then driven back into Burma by Chinese border guards. The displaced communities are now living in makeshift tents on the Burmese side.

According to the Kachin News Group, Burmese troops have been reinforcing their positions near Pangsai and have been killing civilians as the government’s peace team holds unofficial talks with the Kachin Independence Organization.

“Chinese police told us there was currently no fighting on the Burmese side and to come only when fighting breaks out,” said one villager.

“They also detained one of ours for questioning but later released him when his family went and talk with them – they said they’d arrest and jail our whole village should they see us crossing the border again.”

“Now people are living in makeshift tents at the border while some are living in the jungle.”

According to the villager who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the refuges are in need of tarpaulin sheets to make roofs and drinking water.

More than 70,000 people have been displaced by the on-going conflict between the KIA and the Burmese Army, which have been in engaged in heavy fighting for more than a year.

Many of the displaced communities are living in refugee camps near the Chinese border and in Myitkyina, while others continue to hide in the jungle.

In June, Human Rights Watch published a report claiming Chinese authorities were using force to repatriate Kachin refugees fleeing the fighting and urged the country to abide by international law and provide the refugees with shelter until they can safely return home.

Experts estimate that about 10,000 Kachins live in makeshift camps on the Chinese side of the border without access to the legal protection or humanitarian aid.

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