News, Personal Accounts, Report & Analysis on Human Rights Situation in Mon Territory and Other Areas Southern Part of Burma

 

The Mon Forum

 

Issue No. 12/99

December 31, 1999

 

The Publication of Human Rights Foundation of Monland (BURMA)

 

Contents

 

News:
(1) Prisoners and civilians are used as forced labourers in local SPDC's farms and the related huge tax collection,

 

(2) Unusual tax collection in Gyaing river area,.

 

(3) The local Mon farmers are forced to sell their paddy, and some farmers are arrested,

 

(4) Paddy-husking mills were ordered to close down in Kya

 

(5) Heavy Tax Collection on Pa-an-Myawaddy Motor Road,


Report:

Crimes committed by LIB No. 120, under the command of LID No. 88 in Karen State

 

Personal Account:
Interview with a Karen villager from Kyone-sein village

 

Some Acronyms in This Issue

 

SPDC -     State Peace and Develop­ment Council,

SLORC -  State Law and Order Restoration Council,

IB - Infantry Battalion     (of Burmese Army),

LIB - Light Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),

LID – Light Infantry Division

KNU - Karen National Union,

KNLA - Karen National Liberation Army,

NMSP - New Mon State Party,

 

 

 

News

Prisoners and Civilians Are Used



Prisoners and civilians are used as Forced Labourers in Local SPDC's Farms And the Related Huge Tax Collection

(December, 1999)

 

There are about 200 prisoners detained in a prisoner detention center in Kyaikparan village tract, Kyaikmayaw Township, east of Moulmein city, the capital of Mon State. Since the beginning of rainy season in May/June, 1999, those prisoners have been used as unpaid labourers in the farms owned by the army, government departments, intelligent units and police departments, which base in Kyaikmayaw and Moulmein townships areas. In November, those prisoners are forced to reap the paddy produced from the authorities' farms.

 

Those prisoners were mainly brought from Moulmein'jail and detention in that prisoner camp called No. (6) New Life camp. The camp was divided into two places in one.village tract and all of them are forced to work in different departments' farms. According to the source from the authorities, they just use only some prisoners to do farming who are determined by the authorities to be released after six months.

 

According to villagers who work closely to the labour camp or near authorities, the prisoners were forced in farms inhumanely and were treated as animals. During the pris­oners are working in the farms, they are heavily locked and tied with chains and forced to work about 10-11 hours a day. At night time, they are put in detention cells.

 

When the authorities, they are treated as animals. For the authorities who have no enough equipment and ani­mals such as oxen and buffaloes, also used human in plough­ing the lands and crashing lands. According to villagers, the prisoners were forced to draw a land ploughing equipment instead of oxen or water buffaloes. In the work-places whenever the prisoners could not work well or could not make satisfaction to the authorities, they were severely beaten.

 

Besides the prisoners are used as unpaid labourers, the authorities also arrested some day labourers from Moulmein city and Kyaikmayaw town and ordered them to work in the rice-farms as a punishment. In both towns, the police and municipal officers also arrested some trishaw drivers, truck drivers, and horse-cart drivers, who broke the municipal laws and regulations related to roads, structure of their ferries and others. Normally, the poor drivers could not fix their passenger ferries to be look good and most of them were arrested for the uncompleted and less facilities in the ferries.

 

If the police met those ferry drivers with lack of facili­ties in their ferries, they must be arrested and as a punish­ment, they are forced to work in the authorities' farms at least for one day. Some are forced to work about three days.

 

Besides forcing the local civilians and prisoners to work in their rice-farms, the villagers in Kyaikmayaw township area are regularly requested to pay tax or provide fund for army, government authorities and police for various types of expenses in their farms. Since November until Decem­ber 1999, the Kyaikmayaw Township authorities planned to repair such as digging more deeply and widen the 14 canals that was dug last year and instructed the village head­men in the township to collect fund from the villagers in­cluding farmers. Before the tax collection, the authorities went to many main villages and explained for the purpose of tax collection. On November 9,1999, an army com­mander, Lt. Col. Aung Maw Maw of Southeast Region Military Command went into Tarana village and called a meeting. In the meeting, he explained that the government has planned to widen and dig the water canals in the area to get water to grow dry season crops, and the civilians must have to provide fund for that important project. He also instructed in the meeting that a family, who has no farm­land, must have to pay 500 Kyat while the farmer family must have to pay 1,200 Kyat.

 

Additionally, the army also instructed the villages in the area that they required another 100 acres of paddy grow­ing lands and all villages must have responsibility to give that land. Thus, in the same period, November, the vil­lages in the township area, such as Kyone-wan, Kyaikpayan, Thangalaung, Nyaung-pin-seik, Babugone, Khayongu, Kawkareik, Kaw-swe, Tarana and Damathus villages are in­structed to give 10 acres from each village.

 

In Kyaikmayaw township area alone, there are about 30,000 acres of farmlands totally and which are used mainly to grow paddy. In comparison with the numbers of farm­ers in the area, these lands are feasible for the survival of the people in the area. Traditionally, the Mon farmers are grow­ing paddy in the rainy season and other crops such as sesame and peanut in cold season (from November to February), after they reaped their paddy.

 

 

Unusual Tax Collection in Gyaing River Area

(November, 1999)

 

In the area under the firm control of SPDC's Kawkareik Township authorities of Karen State, the local poor fisher­men have to pay huge amount of tax to authorities to get fishing permission in the Gyaing river. Gyaing river flows from Karen State, passes through Mon State and at the end, flows into Andaman Sea near Moulmein, the capital of Mon State. There are many Mon villages situating on the Gyaing riverbank and many of them are depending on fish­ing works. In the past for many years, there was no such type of tax from the fishermen, and the fishing was also a traditional work of the Mon people.

 

Only in SPDC, when the military government ordered their local departments to raise fund by their own way, the tax collection from fishermen is the new way that the au­thorities have created only in November. Following the order of Kawkareik township police department, Police Officer, Ma). Mm Thu, who takes base in Kant village police station, has collected the new type of tax from the fishermen. Thus, about 250-300 fishermen from.many villages including Kawbein, Kaw-pauk, Kaw-gu, Karit, Kaw-kataw, Thayet-taw, Kanni, Gyaing, and Than-hlae villages were in­structed to pay tax in November 1999.

 

In collecting tax, depending on the size of boat and type of fishing nets, the amount of tax are also different. According to fishermen, they had to pay at least about 1000-2500 Kyat per month to the police. In November, after the fishermen the defined tax, the police again ask for tax in December. When the fishermen complained for the con­tinuous tax collection, the police said the tax must be paid monthly. Actually, those fishermen are poor inhabitants and they are in quite hard for survival of their families. One fisherman said to our workers that they could raise only 3000-4000 Kyat within one month from selling fishes caught from the river and now, he has to pay about 1000 Kyat to police outpost.

 

After the fishermen paid tax to the police, they also received a permission letter to catch fishes. If a farmer was arrested without that permission letter by police or authori­ties, his boat and net must be confiscated. Under this condition, the poor fishermen who have no enough cash to pay for tax must have to stop their traditional occupation and also faced hardship for the survival of their families. Some of them also abandoned this work and migrated into Thailand to seek new works and for the better income. The restriction of economic rights is a general situation in many parts of rural area in Burma and due to lack of rights, many local villagers also face food-shortage problems and helpless situation.

 

 

The Local Mon Farmers are Forced to Sell Their Paddy,  and Some Farmers are Arrested

(December, 1999)

 

In November to December, 1999, after the harvest season in Mon State, the government authorities in the whole Mon State have created many paddy-buying centers in Mon State and forced the local Mon and other ethnic farmers to sell their paddy in the respective paddy buying centers. In Mon State, the government required to buy about 2 millions baskets of paddy during 1999-2000 paddy buying year and so the authorities have forced the farmers to sell about 10-15 baskets of paddy per acre to the centers. Depending on the quality of the lands and rate of paddy production, the set amount of paddy to be sold is also different. The government's paddy buying centers would buy the paddy at price 2-3 times lower than the market price. In the market 'while the farmers could sell their paddy at price about 800-1200 Kyat per basket, the centers pay to them at price about 350-400 Kyat per basket.

 

Because of some reasons such as earlier rain, flooding and late rain, some farmers lost some percentage of paddy production and they could sell the set amount of paddy to the centers' set amount. Due to delay or unable to sell the set amount of paddy to the center, some farmers were also arrested in November. As an evidence of arrest, Ye Town­ship paddy-buying managing committee also arrested about 7 Mon farmers from Ye township for their failure to sell the set amount of paddy.

 

On November 20,7 Mon farmers, (1) Nai Hla Aung, (2) Nai Kyaw Mm, (3) Nai Tun Ngwe, (4) Nai Yout, (5) Nai Balaing, (6) Nai Myane and (7) Daw Pyone from An-din and Hnee-karot villages were arrested by the authorities af­ter they could not sell the set amount of paddy. The vil­lages are situating in the northwestern area of Ye Town and most rice-farms are close to Andaman Sea. In last rainy season, after much rain, these farms were flooded under water and some salty water also went into these farms. After the paddy plants faced with salty water, the plants died im­mediately and most farmers from that area also lost crops and they have nothing to sell paddy-buying centers.

Although those farmers complained that they have nothing to sell the center, they were instructed to buy paddy from other area and sell the set amount of paddy to centers. Some farmers also sold their belongings, houses, gardens, oxen, water buffaloes and others to buy the paddy and gave to the centers. The 7 farmers had nothing to sell and buy the paddy. Then, the soldiers arrested them as a punish­ment for the failure of selling the set amount of paddy. While they were in detention, the authorities also faced their relatives or spouses to sell the set amount of paddy to the center.

 

Not only in Ye Township area, but other townships' authorities also forced the local farmers to sell the set amount of paddy to centers at government set low price. In Mudon

and Chaung-zon townshp area, the authorities went into every farmer house, which are not complete to sell the set amount of paddy and set the deadline for selling the paddy.

Some arrest also happened in Mudon township area after the farmers failed to sell the paddy.

 

Such mis-treatments against the farmers are yearly com­mitted by the authorities during the paddy-buying season. Sometimes, the authorities by cooperating with army, mili­tia and police, loot the farmers' paddy that are stored at house for their own foods for their families. They pointed the guns to farmers, break the paddy-stores and takes all paddy without compensated costs.



Paddy-husking Mills were Ordered to Close Down in Kya Inn Seikyi Township

(December, 1999)

 

From November until the end of December, during the government authorities have been giving pressures to the local Mon farmers from Mon villages in Kya Inn Seikyi township of Karen State, they also order the local paddy-husking mills to not operate their paddy-husking works until all farmers in the villages sold the set amount of paddy to the respective paddy-buying center. As the township authorities have worried that all farmers husked their paddy crops and kept without selling to the government, they have make a restriction against the farmers.

 

In Kya Inn Seikyi township, nearly 80% of Mon vil­lagers and over 50% are paddy growing farmers and while the remaining owned rubber or fruit plantations. In com­paring with the Karen villages, the SPDC local authorities have more influence on Mon villages and so the Mon vil­lages •were always instructed to provide foods, tax, building facilities and labour to army or authorities.

 

During this 1999-2000 paddy buying year, Kya Inn Seikyi township authorities instructed the local Mon and Karen farmers to start selling the set amount of paddy to the government set paddy-buying center at low price. Within one month, November, all farmers must sell their paddy completely and if not, the local village headmen must take responsibility to give pressure to farmers.

 

Before this order was issued, the Township authori­ties called a meeting with every village headmen and also instructed them that during the government was attempt­ing to buy paddy from farmers, all paddy-husking mills in every village must be closed for a moment. After all farmers sold the set amount of paddy to paddy-buying centers, they will allow the mills to re-operate again.

 

Thus, during the whole month of November, the authorities had not allowed any paddy-husking mills to operate and the villagers also had difficulties to husk their paddy to get polished rice. Normally, although they had used traditional methods of paddy-husking by wooden equipment, due to crowded population in Mon village, the rice could not provide enough amount for all villagers.

 

As the request to get the set amount of paddy from the farmers was quite high, many farmers could not sell the set amount of paddy at the end of November. Therefore, the hopeless authorities called another round of meeting with all village headmen on November 25, and instructed them again to sell the remaining amount of paddy. Even in December, the farmers had not completed selling the set amount of paddy and the authorities have continuously instructed to paddy-husking mills to not operate crop husk­ing works.

 

 

Heavy Tax Collection on Pa-an-Myawaddy Motor Road

(November 1999)

 

In October, when Karen State authorities planned to buy paddy from farmers at low price, they have no budget in State bank and the military gov­ernment from Rangoon also could not allocate the required budget and instructed the au­thorities to collect the budget as they could. Since then, the au­thorities have found the way to collect the budget. And, they also found a way to collect tax from all ferry trucks that run on Paan-Myawaddy motor road. Since November, the Karen State's various departments in­cluding army, police and intelli­gence unit have created a check­point between Kawkareik and Paan towns to collect tax from ferry trucks.

 

The authorities have col­lected about 1500-2500 Kyat from each truck, which passes their checkpoint, and all trucks, •which run forth and back be­tween Myawaddy and Paan have to pay this tax. Depending on the numbers of passengers that the truck could carry, the amounts of tax are also differ­ent.

 

Besides the official tax paid to the check-point to the authori­ties, the ferry trucks also have to pay every army or militia out­posts along the road. For secu­rity of the road, Karen State PDC also deploys more troops from army, local militia troops and DKBA or surrendered Karen troops along the road and near all bridges. As the govern­ment worries for the possible sabotage of bridges by rebel troops, the authorities created small outpost in each of large bridge and deploy soldiers or militias to guard them.

 

By taking a good chance, the soldiers or militias who take security along the road in bridges collected tax from every ferry truck. There are about 20 outposts along this road, each ferry truck has to pay tax 100-300 Kyat for each outpost. DKBA troops who take bases in some part of this road also collect tax from the ferry trucks.

 

Thus, according truck drivers, one truck has to pay as tax along the road about 5000-10000 Kyat to both check­point and many other security outposts. After the ferry trucks have to pay huge amount of tax, they have also in­creased the ferry fares from the passengers again. Therefore, the passengers who traveled on that road have to pay more fares to trucks and also waste their time because of the often stop made by soldiers and militias.

 

 

Report

 

Crimes Committed by LIB No. 120, under the Command off LID No. 88 in Karen State

 


The New Military Offensive in Karen State by SPDC

At the beginning of October 1999, the Burmese Army's Light Infantry Division No, 88, entered into Karen State, and launched a new offensive against KNU's 6th Brigade. Like every year, after the rainy season over, the Burmese army always prepares new offensives to all KNU and other ethnic armed group, which has not agreed for cease-fire with regime in Rangoon. The terrible and intensive offensives occur in most part of Karen State, Tenasserim Division and Shan State.

 

Unlike to previous years, the Burmese Army has planned to launch more intensive offensives to launch the offensives against KNU. Before the offensives started, the Burmese Army had ordered the concerned regular military battalions in Mon State, Karen State and Tenasserim Division to arrest and gather some civilians to be porters to carry ammunitions and food supplies with troops who launched offensives.

 

In launching offensives against the KNU, the Burmese Army not only used the troops under the command of Southeast Region Military Command, but also had brought many thousands of troops from LID No. 33 and LID No. 88, which base in Sagaing Division, the middle of Burma, and Arakan State, in the western part of Burma.   Those troops came down with many military trucks and stopped at Mon State for 2-3 days to collect porters. The troops from these LIDs came to Mon State since the beginning of October and more troops beefed up in Karen State after mid-October. The troops brought the porters with their own trucks or ships into Karen State's Kya-Inn-Seikyi town. From Kya-Inn-Seikyi town, the troops moved to east part of Zami river and launched offensives against KNU's outposts and permanent bases. The KNU troops also responded mainly with ambush attacks.

 

Among many troops, LIB No. 120 under the command of Lt. Col. Maung Maung Oo went to Karen State and moved into east part of Zami river and launched offensives against the KNU troops who have been active inthat area. The LIB No. 120's went into many Karen villages and inquired the activities of KNU troops. Related to inquiry, the Burmese troops arrested many Karen men and women and accused them as rebel-supporters. Accompanying with this suspicion, these villagers were killed or tortured cruelly by the soldiers. Some women were also arrested by soldiers to be civilians to carry their ammunition and food supplies and some were raped repeatedly by soldiers during porter service or in their own village.

 

During this offensive, LIB No. 120's troops have been active around Kyone-sein and Mae-sa-kit village tract areas of Kya-Inn-Seikyi township, which is situating in east Zami river area. During the whole month of October, 1999, the troops from LIB No. 120 went around the Karen villages such as Kyone-sein, Kyone-see, Ka-kyat, Kyu-mahtee-khee, Khaw-lae, Palaw-tokee, Htee-pat-kat, Mae-sa-kit and other villages. When they went into these villages, the villagers have been constantly suffered from various types of human rights violations by the government.

 

The following accounts are the human rights violations committed by soldiers and the commander from LIB No. 120, led by Lt. Col. Maung Maung Oo, when he went around the above mentioned villages. These accounts are mainly collected from the interviewing with displaced victims.

 


Cruel Torturing and Killing of Karen Villagers

 

When the Burmese Army launched offensives against the villagers, some villagers were accused as rebel-supporters or sympathizers and were arrested by the troops of the Burmese Army. Sometimes, the villagers were arrested by the soldiers, while they were working in their farms, plantations and other work-places, or sometimes, they were arrested on the way returning homes. Depending on the situation that the soldiers met them and the answers given to the soldiers, some villagers were tortured less cruel or more cruel, or killed.

 

According to villagers from Palaw-toki village, Mae-sa-kit village tract, she said,

 

The Burmese Army's battalion LIB No. 120, led Lt. Col. Maung Maung Oo went into our villages on October 25 and arrested five villagers with suspicion of rebel-supporters. The five arrested villagers were, namely, (1) Saw Pel Khaw - 40 years, (2) Saw Thaw Hae - 35 years, (3) Saw Chit Chit - 28 years, (4) Saw Hae Say (unknown age) and Saw Special - 26 years.  After the villagers were arrested, they were brought by the soldiers to a place and were interrogated to tell about the activities of Karen soldiers. During the interrogating of those villagers, the soldiers dissatisfied on them and beat them and were suffered from other mis-treatments. Those villagers were beaten, burnt with fire, cut with knife, and were treated with other cruel treatments.  After those villagers were cruelly beaten and treated, the soldiers killed three of them (1) Saw Pel Khaw, (2) Saw Thaw Hae and (3) Saw Chit Chit were killed by cutting with knife.

 

During these days, the SPDC troops went into many Karen villages and tried to arrest the villagers who were suspected as rebel-supporters. Or, they arrested all men who they met in the village and tortured them to tell about the activities of the Burmese Army. Otherwise, besides the villagers from Palaw-toki village, the other villagers were also beaten.

 

On October 3, 1999, when the SPDC troops went into Kyone-sein village, the soldiers arrested about 12 villagers including two women. After arrest, the soldiers also tortured many villagers and some villagers were severely beaten and cut with knife until die. When they went into this village, first, they arrested five villagers and tortured them nearly die. The five arrested villagers were: (1) Saw Thar See - 16 years, (2) Saw Kaw Kaw - 40 years, (3) Saw Ohn Myint - 28 years, (4) Saw Kar Doe -17 years and Pastor Saw Kwae Kwae (unknown age). The soldiers beat them with gun-butts, kicked and beat them, burnt them with fire and at the end, the soldiers cut Pastor Saw Kwae Kawe's ear. They accused him as rebel-supporters and said, his followers were also rebel-supporters.

 

The soldiers stayed in the village for nearly 7 days and they also tortured to other villagers. Two women, namely, (1) Naw B—B----16 years, and (2) Naw M- K----17 yeari, were arrested along with 10 men. They were severely tortured with various types and they were also raped by soldiers. Those women were already married and their husbands were away from homes. Thus, they were accused as rebels' wives and that was why they were tortured and raped by soldiers. Among the two women, the soldiers also cut Naw B—B—'s breasts with knife. Because of serious injuries, the woman also lost consciousness. Similarly, the soldiers also pulled hot water into Naw M- K—'s noses. So, her whole face was burnt and skin was spoil. Her face became red and severely pained. Naw M- K— had 4 months old baby and when she asked to feed milk to her baby, they also had not allowed her. Her hungry baby cried for the whole day.

 

Among 10 villagers arrested by soldiers, three villagers are also killed by soldiers after they suffered by the hu­manely torture and hurt. The villagers were (1) Saw Lay Doe -17 years, (2) Saw Kaw Kaw - 40 years and (3) Saw Phar Kalu - 23 years were arrested in the same days and they were tortured cruelly during the interrogation conducted by soldiers when they asked about the activities of the Karen troops near their village. The soldiers cut the bodies of Saw La'y Doe and Saw Kaw Kaw in many places with knife and put salt in there as a method of torture and asked them to tell the true about the activities of Karen troops and how they had supported the guerrillas. They tortured the two villagers like this for five days. At the end, the soldiers clamped the two men with bamboo slats and burnt in the fire until they died. Similarly they tortured Saw Phar Kalu for many days and then killed him by rounding his neck with strong rubber loops.   They soldiers rounded his neck and made the loops tightly and at the end, he could not breathe and then died.

 

Then, they also tortured the remaining villagers who were a father and two sons.   They were also accused as rebel-supporters and the name of the father was Saw U Htoo. The torture to the father was quite cruel and they also beat his head until some skin from the head was spoil. A lot of blood came out from his head. They also cut his body with knifes in many places. They also beat him. Then, they brought him away on the last day and at the end he was detained in a detention of Kya-Inn-Seikyi town.

 

Torturing and killing was the crudest way that the SPDC's LIB No. 120 had treated to the Karen villagers. Not only LIB No. 120 troops alone, the other troops from the other battalions under the command of LED No. 88 also mis-treated to Karen villagers. Because of the fear being arrested and tortured, many villagers fled into forests nearby whenever the SPDC troops entered their villagers. The soldiers also arrested all men and some women in the villages and interrogated about the activities of KNU troops. Whenever the villagers gave answers true or false, they were always tortured with various types and made them hurts and dead.

 

 

Looting from the Villages

As a common violation, whenever the SPDC soldiers entered any rural village, they also looted villagers' belong­ings, which they met in the village for their foods or for their wealthy. Mainly, the Burmese Army always accuses that the villagers are offering and providing foods for the guerrillas and so normally they took all rice or paddy as much as they can from Karen villagers. During 1997 offensives, after SLORC soldiers arrived in the villages, they confiscated all food supplies including rice and paddy, from all villagers and blocked them in the villages. Then the soldiers distrib­uted to those villagers with inadequate foods. Taking home raising animals for the soldiers' food is a normal situation in rural village and no villager or village headmen are dared to tell the soldiers to stop this abuse.

 

Similarly, when LIB No. 120 went into area east of Zami river area, Kya-Inn-Seikyi Township, the soldiers acted looting of villagers' belongings like other battalion. As evidence, on October 25,1999, when the soldiers went into Palaw-toki village, they also took all rice from every house, vegetables, ducks, chicken and pigs from many villages for their own foods. Besides the looting of foods from the villagers, the soldiers asked cash from some houses, especially the headmen's houses, to give them.

 

Whenever the Burmese troops went into a village, they went around every house, climbed onto every house, took every thing they met on the houses, and walked around the gardens and took every thing which they met. No soldiers asked any permission from the villagers to climb the houses or to look around the gardens.

 

An another evidence of looting the villagers' belongings was in Htee-pat-kat village on October 15, 1999. When the soldiers form LIB No. 120 went into this village, the soldiers arrested many women porters, took cash and looted villagers' belongings. They soldiers also took rice, vegetables, chicken, pigs and ducks raised by villagers. The com­mander also requested about 25,000 Kyat from the wife of Christian Pastor, as a ransom, after they could not meet the priest in the village.

 

Similarly, on October 3, 1999, when the same troops went into Kyone-sein village, the soldiers not only took rice, vegetables, chicken, pigs and ducks, they also took some valuables, such as gold-wares, cassette recorders, and house­hold materials such as pots, spoons, from the whole village.

 

Normally, when the soldiers from the Burmese Army went into a village, they always accused that village was a rebel base and believes the villagers also provided foods and other assistance for rebels nearby. Thus, the Burmese soldiers always thought they could take every sort of foods, and if not, the Karen soldiers came and took them. According to the villagers, during the intensive offensives of the Burmese Army, the Burmese soldiers regularly arrived into the village, at least twice and three times within one month and the huge number of soldiers took nearly all of foods from the village.   As a result, the villagers also faced insufficient in the villages. Many villagers tried to hide their foods or paddy outside of the villages or in the forests. But when the Burmese met this stored paddy in the forests, they took it as much as they could and burnt the remaining into ashes. Or, if the soldiers met one villager with food supplies outside of the village, he or she must be severely tortured until die, because the Burmese Army would accuse him or her that he or she would provide foods for rebels.

 

 

Conscription of Civilian Porters in the Battle-fields

During the battalion, LIB No. 120, launched an offensives against the KNU and moved into east part of Zami river, the soldiers arrested many civilian porters to use them in carrying of ammunitions and food supplies for the army. As many men in the village were afraid of being arrested with accusation of rebel-supporters or sympathizers, they also fled from the villages and hid in the forests. Then, when the soldiers arrived into village, they did not meet men to use them as porters and also arrested women to be porters to carry their ammunitions and food supplies.

 

The instance is,

On October 15, when the troops went into Palaw-toki village, they also arrested about six women from that village and used them as civilian porters. They used these women to carry ammunitions and food supplies. They soldiers took these women for nearly 7 days and nights and fed them with only insuffi­cient foods during the porter service.

Among the five women porters, woman had about three months pregnancy. However the soldiers forced the women to carry 20-25 (about 3040 kilograms) of supplies or ammunitions in the battlefields.

 

On the other hand, whenever the soldiers took the women as porters, they had never cared whether the women had pregnancy and small babies at houses to be cared. They took the women as a punishment for the absent of their husbands in the village. During this offensive, LIB No. 120 took some women who had pregnancy or had babies to be taken care at homes.

 

The instance is,

When the troops from LIB No. 120 went into Htee-pat-kat village, they also arrested about six women from that village and used them as porters.   The women were used to carry ammunitions and food supplies. Most women had pregnancy or babies as below:

 

Name of victims                        Age                Pregnancy or had babies

 

l. Naw Noe La Soe                 32 years           unknown

2. NawDar Pu                         21 years           unknown

3. Naw Ae Ar Htoo                20 years           with 4 months pregnancy

4. Naw Tu                              25 years            had a baby with 1 year and 5 months old age

5. Naw Da Baleh                    19 years           had a baby, with 2 months old age

6. Naw Mu See Soe Mu         30 years            had two babies, with two years old and 5 months old age

 

 

Similarly, on October 11, 1999, when the troops left from Kyone-sem village, the soldiers from LIB No. 120 also took about 20 women from the village. Most of them had babies at their homes and some of them had pregnancy. They took those women for nearly two weeks and forced them to carry ammunitions and food supplies.

 

Although the women victims were not saying about the treatments of the Burmese Army, the villagers believed that the soldiers sexually abused some of them. Most badly situation was even some women were with pregnancy, the soldiers had not sympathize on those women and used them as porters. All women whether they are young or old, each of them have to carry at least about 20 kilograms weight of ammunitions or food supplies. If they walked slow in the battle-fields, they were also shout to walk as fast as possible. The soldiers also did not allow any tired women to take a short rest on the way.

 

The soldiers also used those women porters like men in the front-line and did not provide a better treatment for them. The soldiers also brought most women for at least about 3 days or for 10 days along with them. There were also some women in front-line while the fighting between the Burmese Army and guerrilla troops broke out.

 

 

Population Displacement and Refugee Flux to Thailand-Burma Border Area

 

After the abuses to the Karen villagers were severe and serious, many hundreds of villagers had not dared to stay longer in their own village. First, many men were hiding in the forests to escape from the arrest of the Burmese soldiers and the related accusation of rebel-supporters. Later when the men could not hide longer in forests or had not received sufficient foods, or faced food-shortage, they had to decide to flee to the places where they could get enough foods.

 

In some area, the whole family was hiding in forests and then, they slowly moved from one place to another where they could get foods. Some Karen villagers also moved from their area and then fled into NMSP area, where they faced less abuse or had more stable situation. They were internally displaced persons who moved from one place to another, without fleeing across the border and entered into Thailand.

 

For such displaced families, after they arrived into NMSP area, they tried to find some jobs mainly day-labourers to get income for work owners and fed their families. Many of them had to pass various difficulties in these areas, because they had no land and no good shelter. And the area was quite new for them and did not know how to get jobs. For most villagers, because of arrest and terrible use of forced porter in their native area, they had to abandon their jobs, houses, gardens, farmlands and etc.

 

Besides many hundreds or some thousands of displaced villagers, many of them fled to Thailand-Burma area. While many of them arrived to Thailand based refugee camps, some of them are blocked on the Burmese side of the border. During November to January, about 200 villagers arrived near a Mon returned refugees resettlement area, Halockhani, and took refuge there. They are not allowed to cross the border and take refuge in a refugee camp, Ban Ton Yang, which was established about two years ago and situated in Sangkhlaburi district of Kanchanaburi province in Thailand.

 

 

Personal Account

 

Interview with a Karen villager from Kyone-sein village:

 

Name: Saw Lu Phaw (not a real name)

Age/ Sex: 37 year/ Male

Nationality/ Religion: Karen/ Christian

Occupation: Farmer

Native place: Kyone-sein village, Kya Inn Seikyi township, Karen State

Interview date: December 15, 1999.

 

Why did you arrive to this village (a village in Three Pagoda Pass area inside Burmese territory)?

In my village, the SPDC soldiers tortured and killed the villagers and I was very afraid of being tortured and killed.   That was why I fled to here.

 

Why the soldiers killed and tortured the villagers and how?

After SPDC soldiers arrived into our village, they gathered village leaders and a Christian pastor. And the commander told the pastor that his followers were the supporters of KNU, because he did not teach the good disciplines to them.   Then the commander ordered his solders to torture the pastor and other two village leaders.   Furthermore, the soldiers tortured other two women and ten men in the village.

 

Besides tortures, the soldiers also raped the two women. They raped the first woman, and cut her breasts.   Because of a serious injury, the woman also lost consciousness at the end.   Other woman was also repeatedly raped and the soldiers poured hot water in her noses.   Because of hot water, her skin the whole face was spoiled and became red.   When her baby cried to suck milk from her, the soldiers did not allow the hungry baby.

 

Do you know the names of those women?

Yes.   I know them. They are Naw B-- B~, 16 years old, and Naw M- K--, 17 years old.   Both of them already married.

 

How did they torture the men in the village?

Among many villagers, the two villagers were severely tortured until die.   The soldiers cut their body with knifes in many places and put salt in the injuries.   They put those villagers like that for five days and at the end, the soldiers killed them by clamping with the sharp bamboo slats and burnt them in the fire.

 

Do you know the names of two villagers?

Yes, they were Saw Kaw Kaw, 40 years old and Saw Lay Doe, 17 years old.   Besides them, other villager, Saw Pha Kalu, 23 years old, was also rounded with a strong rubber loops and was killed. They also tortured Saw Pie Htoo and his two sons.   After torture, the skin from the man's head was also spoiled.   Another man, Saw U Htoo, was also beaten severely beaten and the soldiers cut his body in many places.

Besides torture against the villagers, the soldiers also took the villagers' belongings.    Normally, whenever the soldiers arrived into our village, they also took rice, chicken, pig, duck and veg­etables.

 

How many times did the SPDC soldiers into your village?

They arrived about 3-4 times every month.

 

Which date the killing incident happened in the village as you told me above?

It was between October 3 to 10.

 

Did you remember from which battalion and the name of the commander?

The battalion was No. 120 and commander was Lt. Col. Maung Maung Oo.