Thursday, 17 July 2008

New commander wants timber smuggling routes identified

Kachin News

In a surprising order, the newly appointed Kachin State Commander of the Burmese ruling junta, Maj-Gen. Soe Win has asked the Forestry Department to make a list of the routes used by timber smugglers and loggers along the Sino-Burma border in Kachin State, Northern Burma, local sources said.

A local timber businessman in Kachin capital Myitkyina Township told KNG today, that all personnel in the office of the Forestry Department have been ordered to document all road names along which timber from Kachin State is illegally transported to the China border. He has also asked for related maps. These roads are only known to timber smugglers.

Following the new Commander's order, Forestry personnel in the township have got cracking with the documentation and mapping activities of roads along which timber is sent to the China border, sources close to the department said.

According to local timber businessmen, it is too early to say whether the routes roads will be totally closed down by the Commander Maj-Gen. Soe Win or he plans to make money from illegal timber exports to China in the name of 'holistic development of Kachin State.'

Salang Ja Naw, a timber businessman in Myitkyina told KNG today, "I think Commander Soe Win plans to earn big money from illegal timber trade because every commander has to fend for himself."

Former principal of Tatmadaw (Army) Combat Forces School (Bahtootat) in Pyi-Oo-Lwin Brig-Gen. Soe Win has been appointed the new Northern Command of Kachin State and arrived in the Northern Command headquarters (Ma-Pa-Kha) in Myitkyina on June 26.

In Myitkyina, he first met the head of Buddhist monks in Wuntu Monastery sponsored by the junta in Myitkyina and then met Christian and Muslim religious leaders in the township, said locals.

After that, he met all Kachin ceasefire groups, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) and Lasang Awng Wa Ceasefire Group as well as government personnel in all departments and schools in the township, locals added.

At the moment, the people at different levels in Kachin State are cautiously watching the leadership of the new Commander Maj-Gen. Soe Win, according to residents of Myitkyina.

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