Friday, May 22, 2009

Extortion name of the game in Burma's northern Kachin State


Each and every order from the Burmese military junta authorities to local administrators is tantamount to extorting money from civilians in different ways in the country's northern Kachin State, said local sources.

Two days ago, military authorities of Kachin State's capital Myitkyina misused orders and demanded money from small roadside family oil shops, goods trucks, unlicensed cars and motorcycles, said residents of Myitkyina.

Police seized oil from roadside shops in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, northern Burma on April 25 and 26.

On Wednesday evening, students pasted "Free Aung San Suu Kyi” posters in the town. Administrators of the regime's Myitkyina Town Peace and Development Council or Ma-Ya-Ka and Town Reserved Fire Fighters were ordered to check the places where the students put up the posters by the regime's Northern Command commander Brig-Gen Soe Win, said local residents.

Soon after receiving the order, they started seizing oil from Tatkone, Shatapru, Du Kahtawng and Yan Gyi Aung quarters. Oil shop owners were made to pay money as fine, said local oil shop owners.

The extortion money is shared among the quarters' administrative offices (Ya-Ya-Ka), town reserved fire fighters and Town Administrative Office (Ma-Ya-Ka), oil shop owners added.

The Town Traffic Police were ordered yesterday by commander Brig-Gen Soe Win to check for what the junta calls "peace destructors", who travel in and out the town. Instead traffic policemen seized dozens of good trucks and unlicensed motorcycles without such an instruction being given, said local eyewitnesses.

An eyewitness said, yesterday he saw over 30 different types of cars and about 50 unlicensed Chinese motorcycles were kept at the Traffic Control Office in the town. All vehicles were entering Myitkyina from Waingmaw Township and were seized at the entrance gate on the edge of Balaminhtin Irrawaddy River Bridge.

Though some goods trucks and pickups have licenses they were seized for carrying Chinese oil, food and construction materials from Laiza, the unofficial border gate and the controlled area of the Kackin Independence Organization on the Sino-Burma border, said sources.

According to goods trucks' owners, they were transporting Chinese goods to Myitkyina by paying about 20,000 Kyat per truck as bribe to the town Traffic Police Office, on each occasion.

The traffic policemen will present the cases of all detained vehicles to the Town Court for a decision on either a fine or confiscation for each vehicle, said the owners.

A resident of Myitkyina told KNG today, that they see the latest seizure of oil and vehicles from civilians for extorting money by the town military authorities. It is a plain act of robbery.

The junta is yet to legalize the Laiza border gate as an official border trade gate. However the people in Kachin State rely on Chinese goods like--- basic food, clothes, plastic material, oil, satellite based wireless landline phones, stationery materials and construction materials imported from Laiza border gate for over a decade now, according to residents.

According to sources close to military authorities of Myitkyina, the regime always chooses Kachin State as the best place of sourcing money whenever it needs to meet the government’s budget and emergency funds.

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