Friday, July 24, 2009

Forlorn cry of Kachin hill tribes in northern Burma

by KNG

There is no one to hear the forlorn cry of the Kachin hill tribes, who are losing their life long possession – arable farmlands in the Kachin Hills in Burma's northern Kachin State, said local sources.

Over 500 households belonging to the Lisu hill tribes have been living with mobile land-farm cultivation in N'wan Kawng hill under the pro-Burmese ruling junta Kachin armed group called the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) in Sadon (Sadung in Kachin) area in Waingmaw Township. The NDA-K's is now confiscating both their old and new farms, said Lisu hill tribes' sources.

The NDA-K led by Zahkung Ting Ying accepted the junta’s proposal to convert to a Border Guard Force (BGF) in June just before the United Nations' Secretary General Ban-ki Moon visited Burma on July 3 and 4. The group is locally viewed as a business group rather than a political unit, said local sources close to NDA-K.

According to Lisu hill people in N'wan Kawng hill, their mobile land farm areas or forests have been gradually seized by NDA-K's high ranking officials on the pretext of development projects since 2007.

The NDA-K officers are repressing and forcibly confiscating farms from the local hill tribes. The lands seized, are being sold to Chinese businessmen for large amounts of money, sources among the Lisu hill tribe people added.

The Chinese businessmen mainly grow rubber and teak saplings on thousands of acres of confiscated land, said local residents.

At the same time, cattle belonging to villagers are also slaughtered by the owners of rubber and teak plantations --- NDA-K and Chinese businessmen -- whenever the cattle strays into their area, said villagers.

The NDA-K has put up a signboard saying "N'wan Kawng Hill Development Area" in the N'wang Kawng hill. They claim to be into development activities, whereas the survival of the local people in the areas is at stake, said locals. The development project is designed for NDA-K officers and Chinese businessmen, they added.

Till now, the NDA-K has not arranged for any alternative land or vocational jobs for the survival of the Lisu hill people, who cannot complain to the local NDA-K authorities and the ruling junta, locals said.

Earlier, they formally or informally complained to the NDA-K and the ruling junta about losing their land but they have not paid any heed, said villagers.

Currently, more and more Lisu hill tribes in N'wan Kawng are in a hopeless situation in terms of survival and villagers are looking at moving to the hills where they can cultivate paddy freely, villagers said.

The Lisu hill tribes in the NDA-K's N'wan Kawng hill development area can do nothing except cry over lost arable land, sources said.

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