Karenni armed group accused of obstructing arrests in illegal logging case

The Kayah State Forestry Department inspects timber suspected of having been illegally harvested. The Kayah State Forestry Department inspects timber suspected of having been illegally harvested.

The Kayah (Karenni) State Forestry Department is accusing an ethnic armed group of obstructing the arrest of suspected illegal loggers.

The Forestry Department said a lieutenant from the Karenni Army/Karenni National Progressive Party interfered with an operation on May 4.

Six staff from the department discovered three logging trucks on the road between Mar Kha Yaw Shey Village and Law Jar Village in Hpruso township at around 10pm. The truck drivers resisted arrest and refused to allow the trucks to be confiscated, according to department staff. The Forestry Department then asked the Hpruso Police to assist them in arresting the culprits and in transporting the seized vehicles and logs to the police station.

Shortly after the police arrived around 11pm and tried to seize the suspected illegal items, four armed men, including one identified as Lieutenant Lu Reh from the KA’s Kanni base, and 10 men in civilian clothes also appeared, according to U Zaw Oo, director of the Kayah State Forestry Department.

“They said they would only give us the logs and not the men or the vehicles,” U Zaw Oo said.

The armed men and the drivers unloaded the timber from the trucks and then drove away. U Zaw Oo said that over 9 tonnes of teak and keruing logs were unloaded from the four-wheeled trucks and then confiscated by police.

The Kantarawaddy Times was unable to contact Khu Nyae Reh, who runs the KNPP liaison office in Loikaw, to inquire about the incident.
 
Translated by Thida Linn
Edited by Laignee Barron