Junta arrests Kachin National Congress chair 

The chair of the Kachin National Congress (KNC), M Kawn La, was arrested by the junta in Naypyitaw on Wednesday afternoon, according to a source close to him.

“I heard that he was arrested on his way back from Thapyegone Hospital at around 3:00pm yesterday. It is not clear why he was arrested, ” the source told Myanmar Now on Thursday, adding that it was still unknown where M Kawn La was being detained. 

He was charged with Section 505a of the penal code for incitement, Kachin News Group reported on Thursday. 

M Kawn La had been critical of the military’s actions since Myanmar’s February 1 coup and was openly opposed to the coup regime. After the Kachin Independence Organization issued a statement on August 24 urging armed groups to avoid fighting, M Kawn La wrote that the time in which fighting could be limited had ended. 

In April, M Kawn La and a coalition of Kachin politicians co-founded the Kachin People’s Political Front to discuss federal affairs and advocate for the interests of the ethnic Kachin people. 

Gumgrawng Awng Kham, the vice chair of the Kachin State People’s Party, told Myanmar Now that he was concerned about the KNC chair’s arrest. 

“We were worried when our friends reported that he had been arrested, and we also have to be very careful,” he said. 

While the military junta has been targeting members of the ruling National League for Democracy and its associates, M Kawn La is the first leader of an ethnic political party to be arrested since the coup. 

The KNC is a major Kachin party founded in 1949. They contested in the 2020 general election for the position of ethnic affairs minister, two Upper House seats, five Lower House seats, and 12 seats in the Kachin State parliament, but did not win.

The KNC is a member of the United Nationalities Alliance. Initially, the party was involved in the push for the unification of ethnic Kachin political parties, but ultimately chose to run for election independently. 

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