Four high school students have been reported missing for four days in northern Myanmar’s war-torn Kachin state where abductions of civilians by human traffickers, the national army, and ethnic militias are common, a local official said Thursday.
Two of the students are in the eighth grade and two are in the ninth grade at Mya Thida High School in Hopin, a subtownship of Mohnyin township, said Hopin administrator Soe Moe Aung.
“We have informed Hpakant, Mogaung, and Mohnyin townships about them, but haven’t had any information from them yet,” he said, referring to three townships in the larger Mohnyin district.
Hpakant township experienced fighting in April in the long-running civil war between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), displacing hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians.
“According to their grandparents, they got back home at around 12:15 p.m. on June 18 after school and had lunch at home,” he said.” They went out after lunch, and they have been missing since.”
Though some individuals said they saw the students along the Indawgyi-Hpakant roadway near Nantmon hill, their parents have received no word from them, said Win Win Hlaing, mother of missing ninth-grader Thant Zin Tun.
Officers from the Hopin Myoma Police Station are going to the Indawgyi-Hpakant area to conduct an investigation of the missing students.
In 2017, human traffickers abducted four women from Mohnyin township and took them to China where they later escaped.
The Myanmar army has been engaged in renewed fighting with the KIA since June 2011, following the breakdown of a 17-year cease-fire.
Both the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups that operate in the state are known to abduct adults and children for forced conscription or labor.
During the past seven years, the hostilities have displaced more than 100,000 civilians in Kachin state, the majority of whom live in displacement camps near the state capital Myitkyina and in neighboring Waingmaw township.
Human traffickers find women and children, who comprise more than half of the refugees, to be easy targets to take across the border into China.
Reported by Kyaw Myo Min for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.