More than 1,200 Kachin people living in Yunnan Province marched to the Sino-Burmese border on Thursday in an act of solidarity with their ethnic brethren in Kachin State. At the same time, thousands of Kachins protested on the Burmese side of the border. Coming from Yunnanese towns such as Yingjiang, Ruili, Mang City and Wandin, the Kachins gathered at the Chinese border gate opposite Kachin capital Laiza at 2 pm.

“Our people have encountered various troubles due to the war [in Kachin State], but the Chinese government has failed to react to the problem,” said a local religious leader. “That’s why we have come here to offer comfort to our brothers and sisters.”

Chinese border authorities did not allow any protesters to cross the border to Laiza. However, fellow Kachins gathered at the Burmese side and both groups waved to each other while the Kachins on the Burmese sang revolutionary songs, he said.

Thursday’s demonstration marked the first time that a large group of Kachin people in China have been able to publicly express their feelings. They did not, however, arrive holding placards, did not shout slogans, and did not issue any statement.

The Kachin religious leader told Mizzima that if the Chinese government did not help to solve the problems in Kachin State, they would return to the border with placards and shout slogans next time.

On Thursday morning, Chinese authorities blocked about 10 cars carrying protesters en route to the border zone, he said.

“All the Kachin people feel a common bond and have strong feelings about this conflict,” said Ja Ein, a refugee sheltering in Laiza. “We [Burmese Kachin] want to see the Kachin in China supporting us and we hope they are praying for us.”