Fourteen villagers seeking shelter in Lagat Yang displacement camp in Mansi, Kachin State, were arrested by Burmese soldiers on Saturday.
The Burmese Army’s 88th Infantry Division went to Lagat Yang on 24 and 25 April to compile a comprehensive list of current residents. The camp’s coordinator, La Sang, said the troops came back on Saturday, 3 May, and arrested 14 new arrivals on the pretext that they were not on the list.
La Sang told DVB that 13 of the detainees were released on Sunday, but that the Burmese Army retained one person in custody for additional “questioning”.
According to La Sang, the incident has caused severe anxiety among the camp’s other residents, who arrived there after fleeing civil conflict in several parts of Kachin State.
“It makes everyone feel like there is no safety in the camp, with armed troops coming in and detaining people – this is demoralising for the camp’s residents,” he said.
DVB has received several reports over the past two weeks that Burmese soldiers routinely enter the camp at night and interrogate IDPs, soliciting them to register.
Approximately 227 families — about 800 people — had been living in the Lagat Yang IDP camp since fighting broke out between Burmese armed forces and the Kachin Independence Army in Mansi Township in November 2013.
Last year’s conflict caused thousands to flee the Nam Lin Pa IDP camp and nearby villages, hundreds settling at Lagat Yang.
In early April of this year, additional installment of Burmese troops in the area — assigned to accompany census enumerators — eventually led to territorial conflicts. Several sources have reported that frontline shellfire landed within the camp’s boundaries, causing many of the refugees to flee again.
Some fled to nearby Man Win Gyi, while many made a run for the Chinese border. Of those, many have since returned to the Lagat Yang camp. Several hundred IDPs remain in Lagat Yang, originating from various villages and other refugee camps in Bhamo District.