World Bulletin / News Desk
A total of 49 people, including six women, were detained in Banmaw Township on Tuesday after a military official filed a case to police accusing them of conducting a military training lesson in Mijayan, a town under the control of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).
“They are now detained in Bamaw prison, and charged under the section 17(1) of the act,” Thein Htike Aung, senior police officer at the Kachin regional government, told Anadolu Agency.
Ethnic leaders and activists have been calling for the repeal of the act -- which was enacted under British rule in 1908 -- warning that it harms public participation in the peace process as it states that anyone who comes in contact with an illegal organization can be sentenced to a prison term of up to three years.
The head of the KIA’s committee for internally displaced persons and refugee relief told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that Kachin people had been taught how to work for their community at the training area in Maijayan.
“No military lesson at the training session. Just lesson on Federal system, education system and so on,” he said by phone Thursday.
The KIA is one of the most powerful rebel groups in Myanmar, where armed conflict between the central government and ethnic armed organizations has taken place since it achieved independence from colonial masters Great Britain in 1948.
The former military government and the KIA enjoyed a 17-year cease-fire until 2011, when the army attacked the KIA's headquarters in the border town of Laiza and nearby units.
Earlier this month, a two-year-old was killed and two other people injured when heavy artillery hit a village controlled by the KIA in Shan State's Mongkok Township.
The military has also been accused of using helicopter gunships and fighter jets in an effort to root out the rebels near Laiza -- the KIA's Kachin headquarters -- after fighting erupted in the area last month.
Five years after armed conflict re-ignited, more than 93,000 people remain displaced in temporary camps in Kachin, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, in Myanmar.