EXTRACTS CONCERNING ABUSE OF CHILDREN. PARTICULARLY IN THE CONTEXT OF MILITARY OPERATIONS, FROM THE REPORT OF THE
ILO COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO FORCED LABOUR IN BURMA

 

NOTE

REFERENCES TO CHILDREN (PERSONS OF 18 YEARS OR YOUNGER) ARE PLACED IN BOLD.  "BOY" AND "GIRL" ARE ASSUMED TO REFER TO PERSONS OF 18 OR YOUNGER. WHERE THE WITNESS IS A CHILD, AAGE@ IS PLACED IN BOLD, BUT NOT THE WHOLE SUMMARY.

PORTERING AND THE BUILDING AND MAINTAINENCE OF MILITARY ROADS AND CAMPS ARE DIRECT MILITARY ACTIVITIES. OTHER INFRASTRUCTURAL WORK SUCH AS BUILDING RAILWAYS AND ROADS IS ALSO A MILITARY ACTIVITY IN THE SENSE THAT IT IS ADMINISTERED BY THE MILITARY, AND IS FREQUENTLY FOR MILITARY PURPOSES. IN THIS DOCUMENT THE PRESENT DOCUMENT MAKES NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN THESE KINDS OF WORK.

The full and authoritative version of the report  is on the ILO website at: 

http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/gb/docs/gb273/myanmar.htm
(English)

http://www.ilo.org/public/french/standards/relm/gb/docs/gb273/myanmar.htm (French)

http://www.ilo.org/public/spanish/standards/relm/gb/docs/gb273/myanmar.htm (Spanish)


***********************

FORCED LABOUR IN MYANMAR (BURMA)

Report of the Commission of Inquiry
appointed under article 26 of the Constitution of the
International Labour Organization to examine the
observance by Myanmar of the
Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)

Geneva, 2 July 1998

....................................................

[MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION]

9. ...... the Governing Body decided that the Commission be composed as follows, as proposed by the Director-General (GB.268/14/8):


Chairperson:

The Right Honourable Sir William DOUGLAS, PC, KCMG (Barbados), former Ambassador; former Chief Justice of Barbados; former Chairman, Commonwealth Caribbean Council of Legal Education; former Chairman, Inter-American Juridical Committee; former Judge of the High Court of Jamaica; Chairperson of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations.


Members:

Mr. Prafullachandra Natvarlal BHAGWATI (India), former Chief Justice of India; former Chief Justice of the High Court of Gujarat; former Chairman, Legal Aid Committee and Judicial Reforms Committee, Government of Gujarat; former Chairman, Committee on Juridicare, Government of India; former Chairman of the Committee appointed by the Government of India for implementing legal aid schemes in the country; member of the International Committee on Human Rights of the International Law Association; member of the Editorial Committee of Reports of the Commonwealth; Chairman of the National Committee for Social and Economic Welfare of the Government of India; Ombudsman for the national newspaper Times of India; Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Geneva; Vice-President of El Taller; Chairman of the Panel for Social Audit of Telecom and Postal Services in India; member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee; member of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations.

Ms. Robyn A. LAYTON, QC (Australia), Barrister-at-Law; Director, National Rail Corporation; former Commissioner on Health Insurance Commission; former Chairperson of the Australian Health Ethics Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council; former Honorary Solicitor for the South Australian Council for Civil Liberties; former Solicitor for the Central Aboriginal Land Council; former Chairman of the South Australian Sex Discrimination Board; former Judge and Deputy President of the South Australian Industrial Court and Commission; former Deputy President of the Federal Administrative Appeals Tribunal; member of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations.

........................................


5. VISIT BY THE COMMISSION TO THE REGION

(1) PROCEDURE FOLLOWED BY THE COMMISSION

77. The members of the Commission also considered it appropriate to supplement the information in their possession by visiting the region so as to meet the largest possible number of persons and organizations which could provide it with information on the practices referred to in the complaint.

78. This visit was particularly important after the refusal of the Government of Myanmar to receive the members of the Commission; it enabled the members of the Commission to form a direct impression of the situation described in the complaint, acquire personal knowledge of the circumstances described in the mass of documents submitted to them and assess the veracity of the allegations in the complaint. In doing so, the Commission exercised its fact-finding and inquiry functions.

79. With a view to making the optimum use of its time and determining the places that it wished to visit, the Commission established in advance a detailed plan of the journeys it intended to make and informed the competent authorities of its need to visit India, Bangladesh and Thailand during the period from 18 January to 20 February 1998.

80. During the inquiry that it carried out in the region, the Commission obtained personal testimonies from close to 250 persons. These testimonies were obtained with the assistance of persons and non-governmental organizations working in the areas concerned. At the request of the Commission, these people and organizations were asked to identify a pool of potential interviewees in relation to which the Commission gave explicit instructions that the witnesses be selected at random and not have been questioned previously on the matters that it was investigating, save preliminary identifying data. This request was made in order to avoid potential duplication with other statements already provided to the Commission as well as to minimize risk of any tainting of evidence together with ensuring currency of information. The Commission expressed the desire to cover as much of the territory of Myanmar as possible and in this spirit to interview people from the largest possible number of regions and belonging to a range of ethnic groups without distinction. Given the large number of interviews, priority was given to witnesses with the most recent experiences. The Commission also considered it important to include as witnesses persons who had served in the armed forces of Myanmar.

81. In view of the considerable number of persons that it could interview and in order to conduct as many interviews as possible, the Commission often split into three groups, with one member of the Commission and one member of the secretariat comprising a team. Each team then obtained testimony from witnesses. This procedure varied on one occasion in Thailand when the Commission was unable to obtain access to available witnesses. In that circumstance the Commission authorized a person who was able to obtain access to potential witnesses and who took the testimony of eight such witnesses. This person had previously given evidence before the Commission in Geneva(70) concerning his professional experience and his taking of earlier statements from persons who had experienced or witnessed matters relevant to the inquiry. The Commission gave instructions to the person as to the scope of the interviews and the manner in which they should be carried out. The Commission, on the basis of this person's previous evidence and experience, as well as on the debriefing which followed the interviews, satisfied itself that the testimonies obtained were voluntary and reliable.

82. In making these arrangements it became obvious that witnesses feared reprisals from the authorities; the Commission in the interests of obtaining full and accurate information decided it was appropriate to grant some measures of protection under which names and other identifying information would not be divulged. However, the Commission considered it essential that the summaries of these testimonies, from which this information had been removed, should be made public and form part of the report.(71)

83. The Commission took testimonies from witnesses on an individual basis. Exceptions were made in some cases where persons were from the same family or locality or interview conditions were not conducive to such an approach. In these cases a person's statement was taken and corroborated by others in a small group. In cases in which interpretation was necessary, the Commission selected the interpreters in advance and required them to make a statement in which they undertook to translate faithfully the statements of the witnesses. In addition, a member of the secretariat, fluent in Burmese, was able to ascertain that the translations were true.

84. Men, women and children were interviewed. In the latter case in particular, the Commission assured itself that the witness understood the mandate of the Commission and the need to tell the truth. The interviews were conducted under conditions ensuring full confidentiality to the persons concerned. Since several persons interviewed now lived in distant areas which were closed to the members of the Commission, they were transported and interviewed under conditions ensuring the safety of all concerned. For each witness, the Commission commenced by obtaining the identifying information necessary for the purposes of verifying, comparing and corroborating the various accounts of the facts. It then questioned the witnesses on their relevant personal experience of the practices referred to in the complaint and verified in particular the year, duration, location, context and conditions under which such practices were carried out. Furthermore, it questioned the witnesses on experiences that others may have recounted to them, including their family, close friends and any other persons. Each witness was given the possibility of making a personal statement. Where appropriate, the Commission also questioned witnesses on their political affiliations or allegiances.

85. The method of recording information was by handwritten notes taken by the Commission; because of their copious nature were later summarized. The Commission abandoned the taking of tape-recordings because of physical difficulties of use, particularly with interpreters; also interviewees felt less intimidated, given the environment in which many interviews took place: in huts, on the ground, out in the open and in a factory.


(2) PERSONS AND WITNESSES INTERVIEWED

86. The Commission went to India, Bangladesh and Thailand to meet with persons able to provide it with relevant information concerning the complaint. Their ages varied between 12 and 72; the vast majority of the factual elements presented by these persons occurred over the last year or two.


(a) India

87. The Commission conducted interviews on 19, 20 and 22 January 1998 in Delhi. On that occasion, it held interviews with 17 people from the Chin and Rakhine States belonging to the Chin and Rakhine ethnic groups.(72) Despite its requests, the Commission was not however able to obtain in due time the necessary authorizations from the Government of India to visit the State of Manipur in the north-eastern region of India in which other persons coming from Myanmar and in possession of information which could have been of interest to the Commission were alleged to have found refuge.

88. On 22 January 1998, the Chairperson of the Commission paid a courtesy visit to the Secretary of the Ministry of Labour of the Government of India outlining in general the importance of the inquiry and the Commission's work in India.


(b) Bangladesh

89. The Commission travelled to Bangladesh, where it stayed from 23 January to 3 February. While in Dhaka from 23 to 27 January the Commission met representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and non-governmental organizations who could provide it with information identifying the most appropriate places to meet persons with personal knowledge of the matters referred to in the complaint.

90. From 27 January to 3 February 1998, the Commission visited Cox's Bazar, a town located a few kilometres from the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. A total of over 71 testimonies were gathered from interviews held in the town and the neighbouring areas.(73) Most of the persons interviewed were of Rohingya origin and came from the northern part of Rakhine State, which some of them had only left a few days earlier. Several of them had no fixed accommodation and were forced to live with no shelter.

91. The Chairperson of the Commission visited the Ministry of Labour and Manpower of Bangladesh on 2 February 1998 in Dhaka. During his visit, the Chairperson explained the origin and mandate of the Commission and the reasons for its presence in the region.


(c) Thailand

92. The Commission visited Thailand from 3 to 20 February 1998. From 5 to 9 February, it went to the locality of Mae Hong Son, a town situated near the Thai border with Kayah State in Myanmar. It passed through the cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where it met representatives of non-governmental organizations who were able to provide it with recent information on the situation in Myanmar.

93. In Mae Hong Song, the Commission met 53 people from various States in Myanmar and belonging to the Karenni, Karen, Burman, Shan and Pa-o ethnic groups.(74) The interviews were conducted in three locations near to the town.

94. From 10 to 16 February 1998, the Commission then visited Mae Sot, a Thai town located near to the border with Kayin State, where it met 56 people from the Muslim, Karen, Burman, Shan and Pa-o ethnic groups.(75) From 15 to 17 February, one of the members of the Commission, accompanied by a member of the secretariat, visited Kanchanaburi, a Thai province bordering Karen and Mon States and the Tanintharyi Division. It held 12 interviews there with people from the Mon and Karen ethnic groups.(76)

95. After leaving Mae Sot a little earlier to return to Bangkok, the Chairperson on 15 February met with members of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB).

96. The members of the Commission met once again on 18 February in Bangkok. The next day they paid a courtesy visit to the Ministry of Labour of Thailand and met a representative of a non-governmental organization concerned with forced labour in Myanmar.

97. Since two members of the Commission had to leave Thailand on early flights, a single member remained on 20 February to conduct interviews at a location near to Bangkok with 32 persons from the Karen, Burman, Mon and Rakhine ethnic groups.(77)

98. At the end of its visit to the region, the Commission decided to meet once again in Geneva from 29 June to 2 July 1998, to prepare and adopt its final report.

.......................................

12. FINDINGS OF THE COMMISSION CONCERNING THE FACTS(309)

B. GENERAL PATTERN OF CONDUCT

BY MYANMAR AUTHORITIES

274. Information provided to the Commission indicated that the Myanmar authorities, including the local and regional administration, the military and various militias, forced the population of Myanmar to carry out a wide range of tasks. Labour was exacted from men, women and children, some of a very young age. Workers were not paid or compensated in any way for providing their labour, other than in exceptional circumstances, and were commonly subjected to various forms of verbal and physical abuse including rape, torture and killing. The vast majority of the information covered the period since 1988, the year in which the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) came to power. While the information indicated that the use of forced labour for all the purposes discussed was prevalent since at least 1988, the use of forced labour on infrastructure-related work appeared to have been much less common before 1992. In the paragraphs which follow, some indication of the range of purposes for which labour was requisitioned will be given, as it appears from the various documents and testimony provided to the Commission.

 

APPENDIX VII

SUMMARIES OF TESTIMONY

 

2

Ethnicity: Chin

Age/sex: 19, male

Family situation: Six (very elderly parents)

Education: 5th Standard

Occupation: Family of farmers

From: Thantlang town, Chin State

The witness came to India on 11 April 1997. His parents told him to leave Myanmar on account of the situation: forced conscription, forced labour and portering for the military. He

was in sporadic contact with his family, which has remained in Myanmar; they have confirmed that the situation has not changed and that it was quite intolerable, given the military dictatorship running the country. It was impossible for the members of his family to do their own work. He had to work for the military since the age of 14 (1993). As a general rule, the work assignments were notified in writing, although the military could directly requisition the workers they needed. Portering. He had to perform portering duties for the military on six occasions. The military came directly to the village and ordered the persons present to carry their equipment. They also appropriated everything available, including food, bamboo, medicines, animals. Whenever the military came to a village in this way, the young people generally attempted to take flight but they were pursued into the jungle by the soldiers. To his knowledge, nobody carried out this work voluntarily. Road work. On two occasions, he had to work on the construction of the road between Haka and Thantlang. This road was approximately 60 miles from his village. The whole of his village received orders to send one person per family to work. Each assignment lasted 12 days, with three days of travel to the site and three days for the return. The work site was supervised by soldiers. The day commenced at 6 a.m. and ended at approximately 4 p.m. There was no shelter for sleeping purposes and the workers had to sleep close to the road or in the jungle. The workers had to bring all of their food and ask the women present to prepare it. They were allowed to eat at the end of the work day at about 10 p.m. The workers were often maltreated by the soldiers. Anyone attempting to escape was threatened with execution or incarcerated. He received no pay. It was always possible to bribe the soldiers in order to be exempted. Military camp work. On three occasions in 1993, 1995 and 1997, he had to work for a military camp situated close to his village. Each time, he stayed one day. His 16-year old sister also had to perform guard duty for the military camp as well as digging work. In his eyes, the most unpleasant memories were associated with the porterage and road construction work. He is a member of the Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD).

___________________________

 

3

Ethnicity: Chin

Age/sex: Born on 15 April 1972, male

Family situation: Two sisters. Father deceased (former civil servant)

Education: 7th Standard

Occupation: Truck driver

From: Kalaymyo town, Sagaing Division

The witness, together with four other persons, was arrested by the military on 23 January 1994 and accused of having illegally transported drugs requiring a medical prescription. He was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment by a civil court before which he had an opportunity to present his defence. He lodged an appeal and was released on 21 September 1995. During his detention, he was transferred to various prisons in which he had to perform work in extremely difficult conditions. After his release, the witness had the impression that he was under surveillance by the internal police of Myanmar (CID). He found the situation unbearable and left for Mizoram, arriving in September 1997. He left Myanmar on account of the general situation there. The people have no rights. He has no contact with his family. He does not belong to any political group. He is nevertheless interested in the literature produced by opposition groups. As a matter of course, his entire village, including all of the members of his family, has had to work for the military. The orders issued by the military were passed down by the village head. It was always possible for those with some money to bribe the soldiers. The witness did not personally perform any forced labour. Since 1988, however, his sisters have had to perform certain work on a rotation basis (four weeks) at the Kalaymyo hydro-electric power station, as well as on the Thantlang road. In 1988, his younger sister was 12 years old and the elder 24. He has no information on what kind of work they had to perform. He does, however, know that they were not able to rest and that they were neither fed nor paid.

__________________________

5

Age/sex: Born in 1973, male

Family situation: Member of a family of seven children; parents still alive

Education: 6th Standard

Occupation: Soldier since 1993

From: Falam town, Chin State

The witness joined the army in 1993 at the end of his school apprenticeship since he had no other way of earning his living. The headquarters of his battalion was in Kachin State. He was the only person of Chin origin in his company. However, there were 16 soldiers of Chin origin in his battalion. His superiors were Burmese from Mandalay (in the company) or Yangon (in the battalion). He left the army because of the poor conditions: low pay, very poor food, very low morale among the troops. With regard to forced labour, he remembered that when he was still very young, his entire village always had to work for the military authorities who had a camp nearby. The call up for labour came from the military authorities but was transmitted by the village head. He himself had to cut wood and perform sentry duty. He carried out this work on a rotational basis with his brother. He did not want to do this work and was not paid for it. When he first joined the army he worked for one month as a guard in the prison camp at Namati, Kachin State. He had to supervise prisoners assigned to stone breaking for road construction. The working conditions were extremely arduous. The prisoners were regularly subject to severe physical ill-treatment. The prisoners were soldiers or civilians who had previously been sentenced by military courts (court martials) or civil courts (criminal proceedings). Their ages varied and they included children and the elderly. To the best of his knowledge, there were no political prisoners. He was subsequently sent to the front line on two occasions. The front line was mainly in the north of Shan State. Almost 4,000 soldiers were at the front line. The porters who were required by the military authorities were recruited from each village. His company, which was made up of between 30 and 40 men, had the services of between 17 and 18 porters. Men, women and children (8-9 years old) could be requisitioned to carry out this work. Several women worked as porters, since the men managed to escape leaving them as the only source of available labour. When fighting broke out, the porters were sent out ahead of the troops to detect any anti-personnel mines planted by the Shan rebels. Several porters were killed in these circumstances. The persons requisitioned were subjected to cruel treatment. If they did not walk fast enough, they were pushed and jostled. They had to porter from one village to another (rotation by village). He had himself beaten porters in accordance with orders received from his superiors. He had not seen any cases of sexual abuse but had heard of them. Complaints had been made, but no serious measures taken. When he was not at the front line, he was assigned to various military camps or remained at the headquarters of his battalion, where he could go about his own business. In the military camps, he had seen persons forced to work on the building of these camps. His experience covered four camps: (1) Namati, Kachin State -- prisoners' camp (already discussed above); (2) Nan Ya, Kachin State. The camp was already built when he was assigned there; (3) Paunghsai and Mong Ko, Shan State. In these camps, people (civilian and military) had to participate in their construction. The villagers were informed by the village head of the work to be carried out. The orders were given orally in the case of villages near the camp and in writing for the more distant villages. The work lasted for two or three weeks. It consisted of constructing the buildings, cutting wood and carrying out sentry duty. Working conditions were extremely arduous. The workers had no food and had to work without a break. They were regularly subjected to maltreatment, kicked and beaten. Even as a soldier he had sometimes had to work without being paid. Between 1994 and 1996, he worked without pay on four stretches of the railway between Mogaung and Mandalay, all in Kachin State: (1) Nan Ya (where he worked for three months); (2) Mogaung (where he worked for two months); (3) Myitkyina (capital of Kachin State) (where he worked for one-and-a-half months); (4) Sarhmaw (where he worked for three months). Between 250 and 300 unpaid soldiers worked with him, in addition to the prisoners. As far as he knew, there were no civilians. His worst memory was the situation at the front line, which was a drug trafficking area. Finally, the witness spoke of the cultivation of opium in Shan State and the fact that the army had ordered the population of this State to grow it. The drug was subsequently sold to Chinese interests. The witness came to India in 1996.

___________________________

6

Ethnicity: Rakhine

Age/sex: Born in 1951, male

Family situation: Eight

Occupation: Hill cultivation of tobacco

From: Sai Pai Pra, Paletwa township,(1) Arakan Yoma (village had 60 houses)

The witness left Myanmar in 1994 because of the conditions prevailing there, in particular the work which had to be done for the military. His whole family came with him to India. With regard to forced labour, he had to work as a porter for the military and work on the building of a road. Portering. He had to do portering for the army so often that he could not remember how many times. All his assignments were carried out in the Rakhine State. The first time was in 1982. He was taken by the army to Pi Chaung (on the border with Bangladesh). Sixty other villagers were with him. There were thirty soldiers. The portering lasted seven days. The porters also had to build the camps where the troops were stationed. The work consisted mainly of putting up bamboo spikes, digging trenches, fetching water, etc. The work was not voluntary and was not paid. Everybody of an age to do portering work was liable to be requisitioned. Where there were no men, women had to do it. Only the adults in his family did this work. The porters were cruelly treated by the soldiers. There was no food and the soldiers amused themselves by telling them to eat sand. If the porters fell behind, they were beaten (in particular, those suffering from polio). He suffered fever and hunger. On his other experiences of portering, he estimated that he was requisitioned for work by the army at least three times a month until he left. The assignments lasted between one and seven days. Each family had to provide one person to perform this work. In addition, four persons from his village had to be permanently available for the urgent needs of the military and for work at the army camp. When he was away, his family had to feed themselves with what they could find from the jungle. In his village, a girl had been sexually assaulted by drunken soldiers, who had offered drink to her father beforehand. Despite the complaint lodged with the superior officer, no serious action had been taken. Finally, his worst memories related to night journeys which he had to make as a porter. He had to make difficult climbs up hills and mountains in total darkness without directions. It was always possible to bribe the soldiers. In his case, he did not have the necessary money and had to perform the work. Road building. In 1992, he had to work twice on the building of the road between Matupi and Chaung Lawa. The work began at 6 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. The first assignment lasted seven days, whereas the second was spread over four days. Each family had to provide one person to carry out this work. The order to work was transmitted by the village head, but did not come from the same soldiers who exacted the portering.

_____________________________

7

Ethnicity/religion: Rakhine, Buddhist

Age/sex: Born in 1966 (31 years old), male

Family situation: Married with two children

Education: 2nd Standard

Occupation: Hill cultivation

From: Taryn, Paletwa township,(2) Arakan Yoma

(village had more than 100 families)

The witness had to do work for the military up to his departure in 1995. His wife and children looked after his land while he was away. During these periods, they had to live on what they could find in the jungle. He did portering, and worked on the building of a military camp and a road. He left Myanmar with his wife and children. Portering. He was requisitioned to act as a porter more times than he could remember each year. He estimated that it was three or four times a month. The period when he had to do most portering work was in 1988. The soldiers requisitioned villagers for portering and transmitted their orders through the village head. Each family in the village had to provide one person to perform this work. Each assignment lasted between three and five days. He had to carry food and ammunition for the military. The loads were heavy. He was not given any breaks. He had to bring his own food, but he did not always have time to prepare it. The shelters for sleeping in had to be built on site, in the jungle. He also had to do sentry duty when the soldiers were sleeping. Men, women and children might be requisitioned. The treatment inflicted on them was cruel: beatings with bamboo canes were commonplace. If the porter was incapable of keeping up, he was beaten and abandoned in the jungle. He had heard that some people had died as a result of this maltreatment. It was possible to refuse only in the case of serious illness. However, the soldiers did accept bribes. The members of the army took everything: animals (chickens, pigs), food, etc. He had to work as a porter until his departure for India in 1995. Military camp. The military had a camp in his village. He had therefore had to work there countless times before he left. Among other things, he had to build huts and camp beds for the soldiers, cut and gather bamboo, put up fences and dig trenches. The assignments were of varied length, but could last as long as a month. Road building. In 1991, he had to work on the road twice between Kaladan River and Matupi. The first assignment lasted for seven days, while the second lasted for four. Half the families in the village had to do this work. Other villages were also requisitioned. Two to three hundred persons worked at the same time as him. The workers were subjected to cruel treatment: blows from bamboo canes and punches were frequent. He was personally beaten on two occasions because he could not swim. His worst memories were linked to portering and to the fact that it was very difficult to move about in the rainy season without adequate footwear.

________________________

8

Ethnicity/religion: Rakhine, Buddhist

Age/sex: 22, male

Family situation: Nine (him, parents, one older brother and five older sisters)

Education: None

Occupation: Farmer (paddy fields, and chillies in winter)

From: Thazegone, Minbya township, Rakhine State (village had 90 families)

The witness had to work for the military from the age of 14 (1990). The first time he had to work for the army, he was required to grow produce for them. Subsequently, he had to work as a porter, on road-building and he also performed other work for the military. It was impossible to refuse to do the work. He was not paid. Agricultural work. This consisted of tending paddy fields and growing chilli peppers for the military who had appropriated agricultural land one hour's journey from his village. Ten persons from his village had to go. During the rainy season, he had to work on this land until very late into the night. Portering. He first had to work as a porter for the military at the age of 16. Subsequently, he had to do it once or twice a year. He had to carry food. His brother-in-law had been hung from a tree by his hands for one hour because he was absent from a portering assignment for which the military had requisitioned him. He was unable to walk for one to two weeks. Road building. He had to work on the building of three roads since the age of 15: Minbya-Ann (100 miles), Minbya-Myebon (60 miles) and Minbya-Sunye (local road). He had to do this work during the dry season once or twice a year. His whole village was requisitioned to do this work. It was divided into two groups, which worked in a pre-established weekly rota. Each family had to provide one person. Personally, he shared the work with his older brother. It took him two days' walking to get to his place of work. The work was difficult and consisted mainly of digging earth. He had to bring his own tools. Three to four hundred people worked with him on the roads. Soldiers supervised the work. These roads were mainly for the use of the military. He worked on these roads for the last time just before leaving in 1996. The workers were regularly subjected to ill-treatment. If they were late, they were beaten by the soldiers. The soldiers sometimes chained them up and used shackles on their legs. The soldiers would also force them to stay out in the burning sun for three or four hours. In general, the soldiers dealt harshly with the workers. He saw people seriously injured, suffering among other things from deep cuts as a result of being beaten with wooden sticks. He was not injured personally. But he did suffer hunger, fever and pains in the legs. Other work. On several occasions he had to gather wood (nipa palm, bamboo) for the fires needed to make bricks and for roofs (leaves). He also worked on the building of embankments for a river. He had also witnessed villagers having to work without payment on shrimp farms. The army had taken possession of certain shrimp farms. The shrimps were raised for export. Any civilian who tried to take these shrimps for their own use was beaten. In his view, the most difficult work he had to perform, because of his youth, was the cutting of leaves and bamboo. He would like to improve his education.

_____________________

9

Ethnicity/religion: Rakhine, Buddhist

Age/sex: 25, male

Family situation: Parents alive, but elderly; he has two older brothers and two older sisters

Education: 4th Standard

Occupation: Hill cultivation; family paddy farm (surface area: two sacks of rice seed)

From: Kyaukke, Paletwa township, Arakan Yoma (3)

The witness had to leave Myanmar (in 1995) because he was afraid of portering and did not have the strength required to do the work. He and his brother had to do work for the military. However, his sisters had not done any. He had to do portering and had to work for a military camp. Portering. He had to do portering for the military three times a year since the age of 14 (1986). He had to transport food and go from one village to another. The assignment generally lasted one day. The porters were not fed, and if they did not bring their own rice, they had to try to satisfy their hunger with what they could find in the jungle. He was injured in the leg during one assignment and was unable to do portering for three years. The soldiers then asked him to put up fencing for the military camp (see below: Military camp). His brother, who was now 20, also had to do portering for the military on countless occasions. He estimated that his brother had to act as a porter for the military on average three times a month. They both began working as porters at about the same time. He said his brother had been maltreated by the soldiers. Military camp. He had to work for the military camp three times. He mainly had to put up fencing, dig trenches and build huts. His brother also had to work on the construction of military huts, on average three times a month. The work was carried out for the same camp. Generally, the work consisted of putting up fencing, digging trenches and building huts. Apart from these kinds of work, four persons from his village had to be kept on call for the army's urgent needs. Finally, his family, which had animals (chickens, pigs), was forced to keep them for the military, who took them from time to time without payment.

_________________________

10

Ethnicity: Rakhine

Age/sex: Born in 1951 (46), male

Occupation: Farmer

From: Ra Pauk Chaung, Ponnagyun township, Rakhine State (there was a military camp close to his village at Ponnagyun)

The witness had to perform work for the military from the age of 14 (1964). Portering. On one occasion he had to transport goods for the army (rice and other rations) from one village to another. Road building. This began in 1995, with each village being assigned a section of the road to build. The road in question was that between Sittway (Akyab) and Kyauktaw, some 100 miles in length. This road was built during the dry season, but was damaged each rainy season. It was still impossible to use it today as it has never been completed. The military specified the work that had to be done to the Township Council. At that time, he was the clerk to the Township Council. As such, he had to supervise the work and take part in it personally. However, he lost his job in 1988. The workers had to bring their tools. They were not paid. They also had to bring their own food. When they could not go to work, particularly for reasons of illness, they were obliged to find a replacement. Verbal abuse from the soldiers was commonplace. Military camp. He worked there for a year. Other members of his family (elder brother, brother-in-law) worked for a long period once a year. The villages were grouped into tens, with each village having to work at the camp on a particular day. The work consisted of gathering bundles and building embankments. Apart from these different jobs, persons had to remain permanently on call for the army's urgent needs. Student Sports Festival, Sittway (Akyab) (14-17 December 1997). He had to work for two to three months like the rest of his village on the preparation for this festival. His township was particularly affected by this festival since it took place in this area. The work consisted of cutting bamboo and wood and transporting the canes and logs to the festival site. In his view, the SLORC military regime was the most brutal military dictatorship the country has ever known. It was impossible for the citizens to sell their produce freely.

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11

Ethnicity: Chin

Age/sex: 49, male

Family situation: Married with seven children

Education: Master's degree in physics

Occupation: Teacher (of physics) when he was in Myanmar; participated in the opposition movement against the Government

From: Matupi town, Chin State (lived in Yangon before leaving Myanmar)

The witness was the ex-Chairman of the Delhi Burmese Christian Fellowship, ex-Secretary General of the Chin National Council, Secretary General of the Overseas Chin Theological

Association. In 1969, when he was completing his second year of university in Yangon, he took part in the student movement against the military Government. Following his involvement, he was expelled from the university for two years. He subsequently returned to the university to complete his degree (BSc) in 1972. He continued his studies to MSc level. In 1974, he took part in the events related to U Thant's funeral. He was arrested, held in custody and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. He was not allowed the counsel of his own choosing and the judicial procedure was summary. Together with a cell-mate, he set up a student organization to combat the military junta, which had as its main platform the overthrow of the junta. He was released on 20 July 1980 and returned to Matupi. He taught there until 1985. He subsequently returned to Yangon in 1985-86. He returned to Matupi in 1986 and was transferred to the school at Sabaungte village. He was later transferred to Matupi again in 1988. In March 1988, his former cell-mate contacted him to tell him that the student movement against the government had re-formed in Yangon. He then went to Yangon. He was one of the leaders who organized the movement for a national strike which was called on 8 August 1988. The situation then became very tense. The military were convinced that the strike movement had been started by senior students. They made death threats against them. At that point, he organized the escape of these students to Thailand. He personally left the country on 11 November 1988 with two other people. One of these returned to Myanmar and was probably now in prison; the other was in India. After leaving Myanmar, he went to Mizoram to a refugee camp (no longer in existence) for two months. On 2 February 1989, he arrived at Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram. There he founded the Chin National Front on 25 March 1989. Between March 1989 and 1992, he worked underground in the jungle along the Bangladesh-India-Myanmar border. Finally, he settled in Delhi in 1992 for health reasons. With more specific regard to forced labour, he personally performed forced labour in Matupi on several occasions in 1982 and 1984 when he was a teacher. In 1982, the inhabitants of the village were forced on several occasions during the year to work on the building of a road between Matupi and Paletwa. He personally had to pay 2,500 kyat to employ the services of a substitute (on several occasions). The Chief of the People's Council, U Thang Gwo, supervised the work. In 1984 he worked on the building of a road to the hydro-electric power-station two miles outside his village. He also worked on two occasions between 1982 and 1985 on the extension of the Matupi road. His sisters also worked on this. When he was teaching at the Sabaungte school, he had to take part in road-building for a week. He had to sleep in the jungle. It was the township authorities which ordered the work to be done. He could not refuse. All this time, he saw the inhabitants of the villages where he was living being forced to work for the military. He did not see any change after 1988 in the way the military resorted to civilian labour to carry out different types of work.

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13

Age/sex: 63, male

Family situation: Married for 26 years with seven children

Occupation: Minister of Social Welfare, National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (in exile). (Elected MP in 1990, former Minister of Labour of NCGUB.)

From: Sittway (Akyab) town, Rakhine State

In 1993-94, in preparation for the Students' Sport Festival in Sittway (Akyab), a lot of forced labour was imposed on the general population. For building a playing field, the 31 wards in Sittway township and 26 other townships had to take turns over six months for one day per week from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., bringing their own food. The order had been given by the regional military commander in writing to the Township LORC and passed down to the Ward LORC chairman. No one was paid. Those who did not want to work had to pay 150 kyats to the LORC chairman, even if they were sick. A large signboard had been put up at every intersection stating that those who evaded the work would be arrested. Witness's own 15 year old son, the only child not attending school and free to do the forced labour, was hit with a plastic pipe when he returned late for his work shift from a lunch-time swim. A lot of forced labour was going on building and widening roads. Witness personally saw in Sittway (in December 1993) every day 3,000 to 4,000 people who worked on the road for six to seven months before the Student Sports Festival. His family constantly paid the Ward LORC to hire others to work in their place. Even old women and young girls were beaten if they did not work properly. When sick, they had to bring their own medicine. Large trees by the side of all the roads in the township were felled by prisoners and cut up, and the wood had to be put on trucks to be used as firewood by the army. Each tree had to be carried by four men, women carried only stones. People who did not show up for work were deprived of their identity cards and ration cards. For the Student Sport Festival also, apart from building roads and bridges, all the small huts alongside the road to the festival had to be destroyed, and the big houses renovated with tin roofs and repainted. The owners had to repair the pavement themselves, build a ditch alongside the road (or pay the municipal council to do it) and pay for the brick lining. Boat owners had to transport stones and wood for building a three-mile long road bridge, over 180 miles away, from Kyaukphyu to Sittway. Also, each township had to supply each day for about one-and-a-half months 1,000 eggs, 100 chickens, goats and pigs to a Government storehouse, purportedly for the Student Sport Festival, but the army took half. In Sittway (Akyab) they built simultaneously a Buddha museum and an archeological museum in 1993/94, and in the municipal area everybody had to bring stones, etc. Every Saturday, for either building, 500 people had to carry bricks, stones, concrete and sand. They were unpaid and brought their own food. For the whole of the Rakhine State, roads and bridges were built with forced labour, witness saw this himself in Kyaukphyu, Rathedaung and other places. In Rathedaung township in 1993 - 1994 all people had to build army barracks for 13 to 14 months. Every day 300 to 500 people. The order had been given from the military commander to the Township LORC, to the Ward LORC. Trees had to be cut down from a hilltop and the ground levelled. Then each family had to give 100 bamboo poles, each house five wooden posts and 100 nipa palm thatch sheets. They had to build the fence, dig toilets for the camp. For the soldiers' families to get food, the village people had to plant a vegetable garden and build a fence around it. Farmers had to prepare a rice field, plant the paddy, harvest, winnow, and bring the rice to a warehouse they even had to build themselves for the army. Men and women of all ages had to work. When a bit slow, the soldiers would beat them. He witnessed it. In the rice fields, women planted the rice, men ploughed. Young women also had to carry water uphill to the commander's house and wash his clothes. As regards discrimination against families of politicians, when seven members of parliament in exile (including witness himself) signed a petition for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, his eldest daughter and her husband lost their jobs as 2nd in charge and Township Manager of Government Fisheries, and his son's licence for running a ferry, for which he had paid 720,000 kyat (per year) was cancelled, the money gone. His wife and son were arrested for a few days, and his family was now under house arrest: his wife and son had to report twice daily to the police and report all their movements with reason, date and duration to the Township LORC.

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14

Ethnicity: Rakhine

Age/sex: 24, male

Family situation: Single

Occupation: TV electrician

From: Mrauk-U town, Rakhine State

The witness left Myanmar in 1993. He had not personally performed work for the military. He was a student. He had, however, witnessed several incidents. Road building. He saw villagers working on the roads when he was going to the market at Kyauktaw. The work consisted of digging out embankments for the road. The ditch dug had sloping sides, so that the width of the ditch was around four feet at the bottom and around eight feet at road level. It was around four-and-a-half feet deep. One person from each group of ten houses had to work on this road. Each village taking part in the construction had around 200 to 300 houses. Each house had to provide one person. No member of his close family had worked on this road, but more distant relatives had, however, been called up for work. Men, women and children were called on to work. If the man was absent for whatever reason, he had to be replaced so that the one-person-per-house rule was kept to. For some villages, the work was carried out nearby, but for others it could be a day's walk away. In the case of the former, workers could go home; in the latter, they had to build shelters to sleep in. The workers had to bring their own food. Road-building work was done in the cold season, which was also the period of the rice harvest. It was impossible to refuse (for fear of reprisals by the armed soldiers). It was nevertheless possible for those with money to bribe the soldiers or pay a substitute. But even if the army was given money, there was no guarantee that those who paid would never be requisitioned since the money was generally kept by the soldier to whom it was given. The military were everywhere. The work was ordered by the regional command for the Rakhine State. The order was transmitted to the central command of the township. The village heads were then contacted to organize the work. The army supervised and ensured discipline. The soldiers checked everyone. In addition to the building work which they had to perform, they had also to meet all the needs of the military: food, water, etc. He did not witness any violent treatment, however, the soldiers used abusive language when they addressed the workers. The roads were poorly built. They were often built on rice-paddies and cattle tracks. They were therefore always in a damaged state. To his knowledge, it had never been possible to use them. Military camp work. The military camp of Taung Taung U was near Kyauktaw. The work was carried out in 1992/93. He was told that the persons working on the roads also had to go to the camp to carry out various types of work. Generally, the villagers had to keep animals for the use of the army, which appropriated them when patrols were made. The older men had to cut bamboo stems to make ropes from them for army use. The older women had to go and fetch water for the camp, which was located on a mountain top and had no water supply. Canal work. The canal was between the rivers Tu Myauk (a tributary of Kaladan river) and Yo Shaung. The work was carried out in 1992/93. The Yo Shaung had to be widened. The canal was 15 feet deep and 40 feet wide. Each village had a portion to dig. The work was done in ten days. It was possible to do it quickly because of the large number of villages which took part. He remembered the names of 17 villages which had been called upon: Bo Me Yo, Barawa Yo, Kwa Sone, Palaung Shaung, Aung Zaya, Bone Za, Kin Swin Shaung, Kauk Kyaik, Pale Shaung, Ouk Ta Bra, Na Prauk Se, Ohn Pati, Tin Braun, Wa Tawn, Kan Sauk, Ma Rwet Taung, Tu Myauk. There were others. The first village had around 300 families.

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15

Ethnicity: Rakhine

Age/sex: 34, male

Family situation: Single

Occupation: Representative of the committee of the Mizoram refugee camp

From: Sittway (Akyab) town, Rakhine State

The witness recounted two recent events related to portering which had occurred in the Rakhine State. (1) On 16 November 1996, Shwe Thin, commander of Battalion No. 376, went to Kyak Ku Zu, Kyauktaw township with two other soldiers. It was around 4 p.m. He wanted to recruit porters. The village has 150 houses and each had to provide one porter. Shwe Thin organized a meeting to this end and set a time by which the necessary porters were to be recruited, threatening to exterminate the village's inhabitants if the order was not carried out in the time laid down. He came back an hour later and began shooting. Five persons were killed immediately. U Sein Hla Maung, village head, aged 45; U Tha Sin, group leader, aged 38; U Sein Thwin Aung, group leader, aged 42; U Twee Sein Aung, group leader, aged 50; Maung Nge, son of U Sein Hla Maung, aged seven. Ten other people were injured. Shwe Thin continued, entered a residence and killed its rich owner and those present: U Way Phu Aung, a rich man, aged 60; Daw Sein Ma She, his wife, aged 58; Ko Thein Twin Aung, their son-in-law, aged 37; Maung Than Htay, son of U Way Phu Aung, aged ten; U Thein Twin, aged 38; Maung Lay Win, a tradesman, aged 38; and U Tha Htway Phyu, a visitor from another village, aged 45. The daughter of U Way Phu Aung was injured, together with her two-year-old son and ten other persons. Some have died since. In the end, no porters were recruited. He knew the person who told him this story well. (2) In the second week of December 1996 around 8.30 p.m. at Sittway (Akyab), a high-ranking military man ordered a bicycle-rickshaw driver to take him to a distant place (seven miles away). The driver refused and was killed there and then. His wife was pregnant. He knew the person well who told him this story.

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19

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 28, male

Family situation: Married with wife and two children; parents

Occupation: Farmer

From: Chit Chapandaw, Maungdaw township, Rakhine State

(village had 25,000 to 30,000 inhabitants)

The witness left Myanmar at the beginning of January 1998. When he was requisitioned for work, the order came from the NaSaKa who used the village head as an intermediary. The village head sent a messenger to inform the persons selected of the work they had to carry out. NaSaKa camp. He first had to perform work for a NaSaKa camp at the age of 18. The work involved cutting wood and building the camp. He had to perform carpentry work. On each occasion, the assignment lasted between ten and 15 days. He had been forced to carry out this work every year since then, as the buildings had to be renovated. He also had to repair the fences. He worked at the camp for the last time one-and-a-half months before his departure. Portering. He had to work as a porter from the age of 12. Men and children were requisitioned for this work when the NaSaKa had to transport materiels or munitions from one camp to another. He estimated he worked as a porter on average two or three times a month. Not all the portering work was for the same camps. The duration of the assignment depended on the length of the journey, but was generally for two days to cover between 16 and 20 kilometres. He last did portering work around 25 days ago. Shrimp farming. Since the age of 12, he had to work on a shrimp-farming project belonging to the NaSaKa. He had to work there twice a month each year during the two growing seasons. He had to perform this work every year. Since 1991, he has also had to help the Rakhines during the two annual growing periods. Sentry duty. Lastly, he had to stand guard from time to time. When this occurred, the work lasted 24 hours, uninterrupted. Treatment. The workers were beaten if they did not work according to orders received and at a satisfactory pace. He was beaten five or six times himself, the reason given in each case was for being slow. Taxes. The amount of taxes varied considerably. When an official of the NaSaKa visited the camp, the villagers had to pay. The amount of taxes varied depending on the number of visits.

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20

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 45, female

Family situation: Widowed with two sons (one of whom is deceased), four grandchildren and one daughter-in-law

Occupation: Farmer

From: Kulung, Maungdaw township, Rakhine State (village had 1,300 families)

The witness left Myanmar at the end of December 1997. Her son was first requisitioned for forced labour at the age of 12. He had to perform forced labour until his death at the age of 30. He had to clean camps, build houses, and transport wood and sacks of rice. Her son had to work on average 14 days per month (in rotation). The schedule was not fixed, however, since the men were requisitioned as required by the NaSaKa. The other men in the village were subject to the same treatment. Members of the NaSaKa personally threatened her when she objected to them taking the fruit from a tree which was on her land. She heard that members of the NaSaKa had sexually assaulted women when the families objected to them taking their possessions.

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29

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 45, male

Family situation: Married with one son and three daughters

Occupation: Farmer with nine khani (3.4 acres) of his own land

From: Lamarpara, Rathedaung township, Rakhine State (military camp one km from his village)

The witness left Myanmar at the beginning of 1998 because of the forced labour, which prevented him from providing for his family's needs. The order usually came from the military, who passed it through the village head. All males over the age of 12 had to perform forced labour. It was not paid. He generally had to take his own food. He could not refuse. Each family had to provide one man. It was possible to pay a substitute or make bribes. In his case, he did not have the necessary money. He was maltreated on several occasions. He was given no medication or medical treatment. Construction of embankments. He had to do this approximately twice a week, every two months. Some 500 people worked with him. The work was overseen by a Rakhine. It was performed at a Government shrimp farm. He was neither paid nor compensated in any way whatever. He was physically maltreated. He was beaten on at least six occasions with a wooden stick when he took a rest. He did this kind of work four months before his departure. Agriculture. He had to bring his own plough. He had to do this one month a year for six years. A sector was assigned to ten families. The work generally began around 6.30 a.m. and ended at nightfall. He was allowed one hour's rest at lunchtime. He was not paid. He did not receive any rice in compensation. He was subjected to physical ill-treatment. Portering. He had to do portering two months a year for six-and-a-half years. The assignments lasted between one and four days each time. Around 120 other porters were requisitioned to work at the same time. He had to bring his own food. There were no shelters to sleep in. He had to carry goods and munitions for the military from one camp to another. He did not see any armed conflicts. The loads weighed around 40 kg. He was subjected to maltreatment, generally inflicted because he had not understood the orders (language problem). He was beaten at least twenty times (beaten with a stick and kicked). He reported back pains which are presumably the result of these beatings. Woodcutting. He had to cut the wood required for the building of soldiers' housing or to be sent to other districts. He had to do this work one week per month for six-and-a-half years. He could be away for more than a week on this work. He slept in the fields. On each occasion he worked with at least twenty other men. He did not have to pay taxes.

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30

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 30, male

Family situation: Married with wife, mother, two brothers and four sisters

Occupation: Owner of a small grocer's shop

From: Nasil Para, Sittway (Akyab) township, Rakhine State (village had 4,000 to 5,000 inhabitants; the village was relocated some four years ago with other Rohingya villages. It was originally sited close to a main road. It was moved near to the sea.)

The witness left Myanmar at the beginning of 1998. He had to work for the military. He was not paid. No one could look after his business while he was away. All the Rohingyas had to do forced labour. His brothers and father also had to do forced labour. There was no woodcutting or transporting of wood in his area, since there was no forest. All the work was done for the military. He was physically ill-treated. Five days before his departure for Bangladesh, he was beaten because he had been unable to carry the load allotted to him. He suffered from back pains as a result of this beating. It was possible to pay bribes: 1,000 kyat would buy a week's rest. He did not personally have the resources to pay for a substitute. The orders came from the military, but were transmitted through the village head. The soldiers sometimes came directly to people's houses. One kind of forced labour he had to do was carrying stones. He had to do this three months a year for 15 years. Every working day involved ten trips with stones. The last time he had to do this was a fortnight before he left. The tools were provided by the military. The stones were mainly used in road-building. They had to be crushed. The road on which he worked was a seven kilometre road in the district of Sittway (Akyab). He also had to work building bridges. He also worked on the construction of military camps. Each family had to pay 50 kyat if a new military group came to the region. In addition, on one occasion he was taken as a porter to Shan State.

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48

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 22, female

Family situation: Married with one son and one daughter

Occupation: Fishing

From: Borosola, Maungdaw township, Rakhine State (the village had a population of 3,000)

The witness left Myanmar on account of the forced labour and abuses perpetrated by the authorities. She was accompanied by 20 other families, all from her village. Fifty to 60

families from his village arrived two months before. She had to perform forced labour: building and repairs at a military camp; building Rakhine houses; portering; and woodcutting. She had to do this for the last six years, 15 days a month. She was not paid. She did not receive any food. Orders were transmitted by the village head. Any refusal could lead to a

beating by NaSaKa. Her husband had been beaten several times by the NaSaKa for refusing to obey orders. He had been seriously injured in the back. She knew several other people who had been beaten. She had apparently also been threatened by the NaSaKa when she refused to give them her chicken. She had to pay taxes to the NaSaKa, 100 kyat a month for six years. The sum had increased over the years (at the beginning, it was around 50 kyat). She also had to hand over some of her possessions (chickens or other things).

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50

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 22, male

Family situation: Mother, father, three older brothers (and their wives and children)

Occupation: Student (farmer)

From: Taungpyo, Maungdaw township, Rakhine State

(village had 800 families)

The witness couldn't take the swearing and beating by the NaSaKa any more, so he left Myanmar in 1992. He was taken for portering by the NaSaKa once when he was about 13. He was returning from school at about 4 p.m. and the NaSaKa took him at gunpoint. He told them he was a student, but they punched him and told him that they didn't believe him. He had to carry weapons and food over a distance of 12 miles. The NaSaKa beat the porters and did not give them enough food (only one spoonful, and only rice or curry, never both). There were 200 or 300 other porters. Other members of his family also had to do forced labour (father and older brothers). Once they had to dig bunkers at the NaSaKa camp. They were also forced to do cultivation for the NaSaKa. One person from each family had to do this, for one day at a time. They usually had to do 12 days of forced labour per month. If villagers worked slowly, when they were tired, the NaSaKa said "fucking Indians" and beat them. They were beaten with bamboo sticks, which caused cuts on the skin like a knife. Once his little finger was broken when he was beaten. All the village had to do the same kind of forced labour; villagers also had to give provisions such as chickens, goats, coconuts and chillies to the NaSaKa camp. After he came to Bangladesh other families from his village also came; they are in the camps. Only one or two went back.

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51

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 25, Male

Family situation: Twenty people, including mother, father, brothers, sisters and their families (he is youngest of his brothers and sisters)

Occupation: Cultivating land and fishing

From: Taungpyo, Maungdaw township, Rakhine State

The witness left Myanmar in 1992. The NaSaKa forced them to work, including building roads and cleaning their camp. The NaSaKa used to make work for them sometimes, by making the camp dirty just so they had to clean it. When the NaSaKa went on patrol they took Rohingya students with them as porters (but not Rakhine students). He had to go many times, sometimes for one day, sometimes for up to 3-4 days. The NaSaKa used to take students as porters, because when they went on patrol the villagers were working in the fields and could not be found in the village, so it was easier to find students. The NaSaKa were usually in groups of 25-35, and they would take a similar number of students. The students were given food, and if they obeyed orders they were not mistreated, but if they argued or were unable to do what they were ordered, the soldiers would abuse them. He was never beaten, but he saw others beaten. If the Rohingyas performed prayer or other religious duties, the NaSaKa didn't like it and tried to prevent it. He also had to go to the forest and cut trees for timber. He had to do this many times when he was a student. His younger and older brothers also had to do forced labour, but this was not talked about in his household, as he came from an upper-class family. He knew that other people from his village had to do other kinds of forced labour, but he never witnessed it himself. The NaSaKa didn't bother about written orders or informing the village head, they just grabbed whoever they needed directly. He knew of people who died while carrying out forced labour. One person who was 16 or 17 could not carry the big log he was ordered to, fell down and so was kicked to death by the NaSaKa. He saw the body himself. Forced labour was a very big burden for the people because it meant that they were unable to earn a living. They also had to pay taxes to the NaSaKa--25 tin (bushels) per acre of land (with only one rice crop per year). They also received random orders from NaSaKa camps to give cash or food. These taxes were only exacted from Muslims, not Rakhines. After 8th Standard he moved to Maungdaw (he was 18 or 19) and stayed with his brother there. He managed to avoid forced labour while in Maungdaw, by running away when troops came around rounding up people for forced labour. When he was in Maungdaw, an allegation was made against prominent Muslim students (including him) that they were RSO, but he was not in fact an RSO member. This was the reason he fled to Bangladesh.

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54

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 27, female

Family situation: Seven (husband and five children)

Occupation: Family cultivated their own land

From: Khandong, Buthidaung township, Rakhine State

(village had 900 families)

The witness left Myanmar at the beginning of 1997 with her family (she had left before in 1992 but went back). Fifteen days before she fled, a SLORC minister arrived in the village by helicopter and announced that a pagoda was to be built in the village. After this other SLORC officials arrived and announced that 60 families were to be forcibly relocated to make way for this pagoda, and that they had to move within 15 days. Another, larger area (300 families) also had to relocate within three months. This larger area was for Rakhine people to settle - since there was a pagoda, the officials wanted it to be a Buddhist village. The people in her village had to do forced labour. Groups of 20 to 40 people were taken away for periods ranging from seven days to three months. They had to construct roads, clear jungle, level ground. There was forced labour every month; her 12 year old son also had to do it. This had been going on since before the first time she fled to Bangladesh. The only thing that had changed after she returned to Myanmar was that there was then also portering for the patrolling NaSaKa, as well as the other kinds of forced labour. They had to do seven days of forced labour at a time, with seven days' rest in between, but the forced labour period was often more than seven days, and could be up to one month. Only Rohingyas had to do forced labour. When she returned to Myanmar in 1995, there was similar taxation and forced labour, but the duration of forced labour had increased from about three days at a time to up to 14 days at a time. The tax which had to be paid was a proportion of the rice crop; tax also had to be paid for renovating a house and for the birth of livestock or sale of livestock (700 to 1,000 kyat); one time her brother-in-law's house burned down and he had to pay tax to the NaSaKa to rebuild. She knew one person who was killed while doing forced labour. The person went for seven days of forced labour, and was killed because he was working slowly. The person was asked to clean the yard, and was slow to comply and tried to refuse, so he was beaten with a stick above the ear, and died. He was 30. The body was not returned. She also knew of another villager whose hip was fractured. She also heard that eight people were killed in another village, but since Muslims were not permitted to travel (particularly women), people in her village did not see this, but they did find one body in a canal. She criticised the UNHCR for saying that the situation had improved; when they went back they could not stay even 15 days before they had to do forced labour again. They found that the situation had not improved.

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56

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 19, female

Occupation: Family cultivated land, vegetables, betel

From: Dub Ru Chaung, Buthidaung township, Rakhine State (village had 300 families)

The witness was a refugee before, in 1991/92. She was repatriated and returned to her village, but there was no reduction in forced labour. She returned to Myanmar again in early 1998. The forced labour could last up to one month or six weeks at a time, so there was no way to make a living. They had to clear jungle, cut poles for construction, clean latrines, and work in NaSaKa paddy fields. Every family had to do this, but only Rohingyas. After repatriation her husband used to go to the forest to collect wood to sell. One time he was doing this when he was supposed to do forced labour, so he was beaten by the NaSaKa and his leg was injured and cut. He became angry after this and started complaining about the country and saying he wanted to leave. This came to the attention of Military Intelligence, who falsely accused him of being a smuggler, so he had to flee. Labourers were taken from the road or market; sometimes orders were given to the village head; sometimes people were taken directly from their houses. Sometimes girls were taken from the street to the army camp.

She knew four girls from her village who were raped in this way (this happened after her repatriation). Rice and money had to be paid as tax, but only Rohingyas had to pay this tax.

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58

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 27, male

Family situation: Married with two children; has three brothers and two sisters

Education: 2nd Standard

Occupation: Day labourer

From: Sabbi Taung, Buthidaung township, Rakhine State

The witness left Buthidaung township for Bangladesh in July 1992, was repatriated in 1996 and came back to Bangladesh in early 1997. After his repatriation in 1996, he had to do various types of forced labour for the military in Buthidaung township: making fences for military quarters, building barracks, digging soil, collecting firewood. He was not paid and even had to bring his own food. He had to go three or four times a month, sometimes for a week at a time, sometimes four or five days. The Sabbi Taung village head would get the written order from the military then tell the villagers to go; if the village head failed to send the villagers, he would have to go himself. Sabbi Taung had about 350 families; the village head would ask one person per family to perform forced labour. In the absence of a husband, in principle, a woman had to go, but she could send another person paid by her. In practice, he has seen women do forced labour. As for children, the military would not take a real minor (below ten) because he could not work. Naikangtaung was the main camp. Forced labourers were collected there from various villages and distributed to where needed. He had to go on foot for about ten miles from Sabbi Taung to Naikangtaung and, as needed, from there also on foot for six to seven miles to Sindi Prang or Poimali. He had to stay the nights where he worked and bring his food rations with him. After he was repatriated in 1996, the UNHCR had given some food (rice) rations for working on a pond for drinking water for Sabbi Taung village. The village head, at UNHCR's behest asked for labour (volunteers). If someone did not want to go, he would not go. He himself had worked like a contractor, 40 persons working on the pond for 15 days would be given a number of sacks of rice and divide this among themselves. He worked there for a 20-day period, but had to leave the pond work during the same period when instructed by the authorities to do forced labour. He thus had to go twice, once for four days, once for five. This happened 15 days after he was repatriated. He also had to do portering for soldiers on patrol. Once, before his 1992 exile, for two months in a row. After his repatriation, he had to go twice for ten days each. Before his 1992 exile, he was injured (showed his scars below the knee) when carrying heavy baggage along and falling. Wound from falling (not beating) took a long time to heal. He received no treatment. In 1996 (between repatriation and second flight), besides working for military camps the witness did not have to work for road building, but before he first left in 1992, he had to work for the planned road from Buthidaung to Sittway (Akyab). He had seen forced labourers being beaten by soldiers: if they could not carry out orders in time, did not understand the language of an order, took too much time for their meal, or were incapable of carrying the soldiers' belongings (the soldiers did not care about the weight). Also, if anyone did not respond to the village head's call up for forced labour, his name would be given to the military, who would arrest him and seriously beat him up. After his repatriation, he had seen people from his village beaten by the soldiers in about 20 cases. There were instances where people were shot dead but he had not witnessed any, though he had seen, before 1992, a 30 to 35 year old man from his village, whose name he did not remember, being beaten up so seriously that he later died. He had not witnessed any cases of sexual abuse of women from his village. In other villages, when the soldiers went to look for labourers and all the males fled, they took women to the camp. He heard this from eyewitnesses from Poimali village before 1992.

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59

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 45, male

Family situation: Married with four children. Has two brothers and two sisters

Occupation: Selling his labour

From: Perella, Buthidaung township, Rakhine State

The witness came to Bangladesh for the first time in 1992 and was repatriated the same year. He came to Bangladesh again in early 1998, leaving his family behind in Myanmar because life had become very difficult, with too much forced labour and too many donations. He had to do forced labour many times for all three (two military and one police) camps near his village: clearing the ground, digging soil, collecting firewood, carrying water. He also had to give toll ("donation") money collected by the village head for the military intelligence. He had to go exactly once every month, for a week or sometimes ten days of forced labour. The village head's jurisdiction extended over seven villages with about 350 families. In Perella village there were about 35 families, and the village head called up by rotation ten persons at a time from his village about three times a month (the same for every other village), then distributed them to the camps. In addition, when the military were moving from one place to another, they could catch someone and take him as a porter. On 5 January 1998, he and his brother were going shopping in Sabbi Taung and his brother was caught on the way and had to carry the soldiers' belongings; he did not know where to or for how long. In 1997, he worked for a UNHCR road-building project. When called by the local village head, he volunteered to go for 16 days and got in return 21 kg of rice. But while working for the road, it was his turn to go for forced labour so he sent a substitute, to whom he paid 150 kyat. Once, late in 1997, he refused to go for forced labour. When called by the village head, he told him "If I go, my children will die". So his name was given to the military. He was arrested on the same night, at midnight the military came to his house, took him to the Jadi Taung police camp, beat him up and held him until 3 p.m. the next day. He was released after his mother had sold her ornaments and given 2,000 kyat to the camp-in-charge. He had seen some other cases like that. He was never paid for forced labour and had to bring his own food. Once, over a year ago, he got sick with a bad stomach pain and was about to die, during forced labour in Buthidaung - Naikangtaung camp, the biggest, central military camp, where he had to go once every two or three months, on foot, 14 miles from his village. He always stayed at the camp when doing forced labour. When sick, he was not given any medicine. His friends in the camp carried him to a nearby civilian hospital, where he was given no medication, and had to go back to the camp. In the camp, he was allowed to rest, guarding the belongings of others. There were very few military people who were good, but this was a good one. Seven to eight months ago in Poimali (Taraing camp), he witnessed a person being shot dead. In the camp there was a Mazi (leader) for every 80 labourers, and a head count by the military three times a day. In the evening, two persons from his group had disappeared. A soldier asked the Mazi to go a little bit further and shot him dead (name of victim: Hassan from Poimali village; 40 to 45 years old). In another incident three years ago, a man from Jadi Taung, Abdu Salam, had to collect bamboo for the military and was beaten to death. The witness was with him, they carried him back. There was an instruction for 100 pieces of bamboo per day to be cut per labourer. Abdu Salam could not complete 100, so when asked by a soldier he talked back because he knew the Burmese language, and for that reason was beaten to death. If a woman heading a household without adult male members was called up to supply labour, she could send a substitute labourer or a child. A widow with no children and who had no money would be asked to go to the village head's house. It depended on the village head, sometimes she had to work for the village head with his wives. With regard to children, boys would be taken from the age of ten upwards, sometimes it depended on size. Finally, he saw a 30-year-old woman from a nearby village raped at Poimali military camp seven to eight months ago. The village head gave the list of those refusing to do forced labour to the military: they went to seek these people. If they did not find the men, they took the women for three to four nights to the camp. So the woman was taken because they could not find the man. The women could not be seen in the camp; they were kept in a room.

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62

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 35, male

Family situation: Married with two sons and three daughters

Occupation: Farmer

From: Lambabil, Buthidaung township, Rakhine State (two military camps and a military intelligence camp were near the village)

The witness left Myanmar in 1991 because of the torture to which he had been subjected and the forced labour he had to carry out. He could no longer provide for his family's needs or farm his land. He had to carry out forced labour from the age of 12. There was not really an organized system. The order came from the camp, using the village head as intermediary, who sent a messenger to find the required labour. He had to do labour on average five to seven times a month. The work lasted an average of three to four days. There was not always somewhere to sleep. He had to bring his own food. He was not paid. It was impossible to refuse. The punishment for refusal was arrest. His wife looked after the farm during his absence. Each family had to provide one member to work. He was then the only one in his immediate family who could do this work. It was possible to pay a substitute (but he never did because he did not have enough income). It was not possible to bribe soldiers to avoid work. He had to put up fencing or bamboo in the camps (for vegetable gardens and animals that the soldiers kept there) and collect wood. He also had to do portering for the soldiers, carrying their food and munitions. He never saw any fighting. He acted as porter about twenty times. The assignments lasted from one to five days. Even if the order specified a given number of days, he often had to stay longer until other porters came to replace him. The soldiers confiscated food in the villages they had to pass through and he could eat the leftovers. He was beaten several times when he was unable to carry the loads. He believed that the situation in Myanmar has not changed (someone who arrived from there recently confirmed this to him). Finally, while in Myanmar, he had to pay a rice tax proportionate to the family income, which was used to feed the soldiers. The tax could not be avoided.

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69

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 35, male

Family situation: Married with two children

Occupation: Day labourer

From: Poimali, Buthidaung township, Rakhine State (village had 4,000 families; there was a large NaSaKa camp in the village)

The witness had to leave Myanmar in early 1997 and came toBangladesh with two families from his village. Several other families had left Myanmar since he left. He left because life

had become intolerable for a family with little income. Forced labour and the obligation to pay taxes prevented the men in those families from providing for their needs. He personally

had to carry out forced labour: collecting wood, road building. He had to do it on average three or four times a month. He had to be away from his home for one or two days. He was not paid. He could not refuse because he was threatened with torture. As he had never refused, he had never personally been tortured, but he knew several people who had been beaten. The order to do forced labour came from the military who used the services of the village head to transmit the order. He also had to pay considerable amounts in taxes, which varied depending on the circumstances and the needs of the military.

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72

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 38, male

Family situation: Seven (he and his wife and five children)

Occupation: His parents had a farm, he was a trader and shopkeeper

From: Kyein Chaung, Maungdaw township, Rakhine State (village had 800 families)

In 1991, the witness was waiting (with others) by the road one night for a rice shipment to arrive. An officer and four soldiers came and rudely asked them what they were doing, since they were out after curfew. They said they were waiting for a rice shipment, and that the soldiers should understand that they still had to do their work in spite of the curfew. Soldiers took him as a porter, tying his wrists with a rope, which they said was to prevent him from escaping. As they moved, three more porters were also captured, and tied up similarly. Then they came to a house with a light on, and the soldiers called out, asking if there were any men in the house. A woman's voice replied that there were not, but a soldier went in to check, and then tried to rape the woman. He did not know if the rape was carried out, because then the husband returned and tried to stop the soldier. The soldier hit the man three times on the head with a stick. The soldier threatened the porters who had witnessed what happened not to tell anyone. At this point the soldiers untied the witness, and told him not to run away, or they would destroy his shop. They then went to another house, but the man had run away, so they took two chickens. The next house they went to there was an old woman and two teenage girls, who were asleep in sarongs. The soldiers ripped off their sarongs, and he thought they would have raped them, but there were too many people around. In that house there was a chest containing clothes. The soldiers found 750 kyat in the chest, and took it together with an umbrella, sarong and some blankets. The next house they went to the soldiers raped a woman. In another house they beat a man with a stick. In the next house, they hit the younger sister of the village head, so she ran to another house, and they followed her and hit the old woman in that house. They collected porters that night until 2 a.m., then returned to their camp. On the way back to the camp, a soldier told him that if he bought him a bottle of alcohol, he could be released. He bought a bottle for 250 kyat, and was released. The next morning a lot of people around his shop were talking and asking what had happened the previous night, saying they had heard rumours. He waited to see what would happen, and four police arrived asking if he had made trouble with the soldiers, and saying that they thought the soldiers would come and get him. That was when he left and came to Bangladesh. He also had other experience with forced labour. Soldiers used to come to his shop, and demand that he carry provisions to their camp. He first did forced labour when he was 15 (the first thing was portering for soldiers on patrol). Portering would usually last for two to three days at a time, and he sometimes had to go as often as once a week, but it depended. The other villagers also had to do forced labour--carrying things, and building and maintaining army camps. (He said that the first army camps were built in the area a long time ago, when the BSPP government came to power.) There was also other kinds of forced labour; everything imaginable, such as digging drainage ditches, building roads, sweeping roads for mines, and all kinds of work associated with maintaining army camps. Forced labour started to increase after 1988. Now people have to go for 15 days or one month at a time, whereas before 1988 it was one day per week. For the last two years, there have been at least 100 people at a time doing forced labour in his village. His father and brother are still there and he sometimes has contact with them, so he still gets information about the situation in his village. During forced labour, the soldiers swore at the villagers and beat them if they were slow, and sometimes they also took money from them. He was beaten one time when he was a porter. His load was too heavy, and he told the soldier he could not carry it as he was not a manual labourer and was not used to such heavy loads; the soldier got a stick and beat him. People in his village also had to pay taxes: whenever the army came to the village the people had to give them food, oil, spices and chillies. It was not systematic; sometimes twice a month, sometimes 4 times, whenever the army came through. He left for Bangladesh because he couldn't stand the situation any more. He left on his own, but all together about 700 families left his village at that time; some were still there, and others went back. Of those who went back, many have fled again, but they did not come to the camp where he was. Some were still coming out (50 families have come recently, gradually, not all at the same time). The recent arrivals gave him information about the current situation. The situation now was not worse than before, but not much better. If anyone complains to the UNHCR, the NaSaKa take revenge on them. People still had to work for 15 days a month for the NaSaKa. The also worked about 15 days a month for the UNHCR, for which they received rice, oil and beans; when they worked for the NaSaKa, they only received a stick (i.e. a beating). The NaSaKa were not involved in food payment on UNHCR projects; the UNHCR had a representative who was himself a Muslim, and he gave them the food directly. He had not heard of the NaSaKa taking the food. 

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76

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 51, male

Family situation: 12 (him, wife and ten children)

Occupation: Bicycle mechanic (owned a bicycle repair shop)

From: Buthidaung town, Rakhine State

The witness left Myanmar in 1992. The Government oppressed the Rohingyas in many ways. They were not allowed to travel and were discriminated against as Muslims (for example, they were not allowed to have Muslim schools or do business freely). Soldiers would take Muslims from the town to clean up their army camp. This had been going on for decades. The soldiers always said that they were not from Burma. There was one army barracks in the town, but several battalions in the township. They came in 1990. The camps and barracks were all built with forced labour from the local people. The situation was worse for people living in villages. The soldiers would force people to move to make space for an army camp, and then those same people would be forced to build that army camp. Once the army camp was built, the people would be forced to move away, but they would not be given any new place to go to. They were told: "You are Indians. Go back to where you came from." The soldiers would even take their money, saying "This is Burmese money. You are an Indian, so you have no need of this money." Whenever the soldiers moved, they took local people to carry their things. They only took Muslims. They just grabbed whoever they needed, often 100 or 200 people at a time. There was no fixed period that someone would have to do this work. They just had to continue for as long as the soldiers wanted them, sometimes for as long as one or two months. Many people died during portering. They gave the porters no money, and they even would have to bring their own food. When all the men ran away to avoid being taken as porters, the soldiers would rape the women. This happened very often. Some girls were taken away to the army camp and raped there; often they became pregnant as a result. Sometimes the soldiers would kill the girls who became pregnant. In one case, he knew of a girl who was taken to an army camp and raped. She became pregnant, and was kept at the army camp until she had the baby, but she died during childbirth. There was also forced labour that the people in Buthidaung town, including him, were forced to do by the soldiers. They had to clean up the town, and construct roads. There was usually no systematic way that this was organised; the soldiers would just grab people. There was also religious discrimination. The Muslims had no freedom of religion. They could not have Muslim schools. They were prevented from wearing Muslim clothing. They were told: "You can't dress like that. This is not your country. If you want to dress like that, go to your own country." The Muslims also had to pay taxes and extortion which the Rakhine inhabitants did not. Any time the soldiers wanted money, they would just demand it. The people gave them money, but it just got worse, because the people were very poor, and they were always being asked for more money. He was often taken from his bicycle repair shop for forced labour and portering. Rakhine people did not have to do forced labour.

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80

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 30, male

Family situation: Married with two children

Occupation: Fisherman

From: Mongni Para, Maungdaw township, Rakhine State (village had about 3,000 families)

The witness left Myanmar in early 1997 with his family. More than 400 families have left his village. He had to do forced labour for the military in the mountains. He had to collect wood, act as porter and stand guard, since the village was near the border with Bangladesh. He had to work on average at least once a week. He had to do forced labour from the age of 15. He continued until his departure from Myanmar. He had to bring his own food. He was not paid. It was not possible to refuse because any reluctance could result in a beating. He had never refused but he knew people who had and who had been badly beaten. All the families in the village had to provide one man to perform the work. The order to carry out the work came from the military, who transmitted it through the village head. He had to pay money for the construction of schools and all kinds of activities (social, religious or sporting) of the military or Rakhines. If it was not possible to pay, they then had to do additional work in the camps. They had to pay these taxes at least three times a month.

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82

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 40, male

Occupation: Farmer

From: Fatecha, Buthidaung township, Rakhine State (village had 52 families)

The witness came the first time in 1991/92 with several families from his village. Ten stayed and several later went back to Myanmar. He himself went back in 1994 and returned to Bangladesh late in 1996. With regard to forced labour, the situation had worsened between his two periods in Bangladesh. Previously, he had to do six to eight days a month. Before leaving the second time, the number of days had been raised to around ten to 15 days a month. He did forced labour for the first time at the age of ten or 12. He had continued until his departure. He had been requisitioned to build a military camp, collect wood and bamboo poles. He had to bring his own food. He was not paid. He sometimes had to stay a week at the site of his assignment. There was not always shelter to sleep. He slept in the huts he was building. He could not refuse because any refusal could lead to a beating and a fine (about 2,000 kyat). The day began about 6 a.m. and ended at sunset. The order came from the military, who transmitted it through the village head. The men who had to do forced labour were subjected to ill treatment, and were regularly beaten. He himself had been beaten and had even lost a tooth on one occasion. Taxes increased after his return. Before, they were about ten to 15 kyat a month. After his return, they were about 200 kyat a month. Any excuse was sufficient to extract money from them (sporting, religious or social activities). They had ten days to find the money to pay the taxes, without exception.

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83

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Sex: Male

Family situation: Married with two children

Occupation: Small trader

From: Tatupur, Buthidaung township, Rakhine State (village had about 500 families; there was a NaSaKa camp in the village)

The witness had to leave Myanmar because he was accused of belonging to the RSO. He left in early 1997 with his family. Fifty eight families left with him. In 1993, he had to pay 130,000 kyat to the SLORC and the NaSaKa to prevent his family being killed because he was suspected of belonging to the RSO. His uncle, who was returning from Saudi Arabia, was murdered for the same reason. He had to sell his land to pay. He had to leave when the situation became intolerable. As he came from a family with a certain amount of property, he did not have to do forced labour. He could pay substitutes. He had to pay an average of 400 kyat three or four times a month. He had to pay substitutes for the first time when he was a child. The order came from the army which transmitted it through the village head. All the men in his village were subject to forced labour, with each family having to provide one member. The treatment to which they were subjected varied. If, for example, a group of people had been ordered to provide a certain quantity of bamboo and did not achieve the specified quota, the whole group was punished. For the wealthiest, the fine was mostly a sum of money. The others were sent to Bangladesh. With regard to taxes, he had to pay money for all the activities organized by the military (games, pagodas, religious activities). He had to pay an average of 400 to 500 kyat a month.

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84

Ethnicity: Rohingya

Age/sex: 30, male

Family situation: Married with four children

Occupation: Small trader

From: Kachibil, Maungdaw township, Rakhine State (village had about 180 families; there was a NaSaKa camp nearby)

The witness left Myanmar in the course of 1997. He escaped from the NaSaKa camp where he had been held prisoner for seven months because he had only paid 800 kyat out of the 1,200 exacted by the military. He was later joined in Bangladesh by his family. About ten families accompanied his own when they left. He had come to Bangladesh the first time with the influx of refugees in 1991. He was repatriated in 1994. He thought that the situation grew worse in the time between his two stays in Bangladesh. Previously, forced labour was mainly for the police. Now, men had to work for the NaSaKa. The conditions were more difficult and dangerous. Bribes were also higher. During the day, he had to work in the camp: general cleaning, washing soldiers' clothes, collecting wood, building paths and tracks inside the camp. At night, he had to do sentry duty for the soldiers. The orders came from the military, who transmitted them through the village head. He had to work about three times a week. He had to do it the first time when he was a child. He had to bring his own food. He was not paid. He could not refuse. When he was repatriated, he was even arrested, and the authorities asked him to pay them the money received from the UNHCR.

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89

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 28, male

Family situation: Married with one son

Occupation: Teacher from 1988 to 1990 (primary school) in his village, then joined the KNPP

From: Paloaung, Loikaw township, Kayah State (village had some 40 families; army camp in village since 1990)

The witness left Myanmar on 12 May 1997 with 12 other people from his village. Several other families came later. He had to work in an army camp when he was 21/22 years old (six years earlier) for two years. He had to work all year round, two to three times per month. He worked on security and electrical installations. The orders to work there generally came from the village head. The military came on a number of occasions directly to the houses to find the necessary labour. Each family had to provide one member to work. Men and women had to work in the camp (up to the age of 60). Women, about ten of them, had to cut bamboo and split wood. The hours could vary. Sometimes he did not work there all day (only two to three hours). Sometimes, the job was for a whole day. He had to bring his own food. He was not paid. He could not refuse. He was not himself beaten, but saw others beaten. It was possible to pay for a substitute (50 kyat a day). However he did not have enough money to do that. He also worked on the railway between Aungban and Loikaw, in 1992, during the Christmas period. His work was on the section near Loikaw. The work site was two days travel away. He travelled the first part by car (a taxi that he paid for) and the second by boat. The work involved laying earth along the planned route. The work was supervised by the army. Some 6,000 to 7,000 people worked on it. Men, women, children (ten to 11 years) and elderly people, without distinction. More than 200 people were working on his section. He had to bring his own tools. He worked from morning (6 to 7 a.m.) to night (7 p.m.) He had to bring his own food, which he ate during the lunch break. He slept in villages along the route. He was not paid. He could pay for a substitute or pay bribes to be exempt. If he did not pay, the order stated that people who failed to obey had to be punished. He had not himself been beaten. He did not witness ill treatment administered to other workers. He also had to pay for the fuel for the lorries. He did not see any trains on the railway before he left. Finally, he had to pay porter fees two or three times. The amount could vary (about 100 kyat). He paid the fees to the village head.

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90

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 46, male

Family situation: Married with two daughters

Occupation: Soldier in the Burmese army from 1972-1983

From: Loikaw town, Kayah State

The witness had to leave Myanmar alone in 1992 because he was afraid of being arrested for being involved in the events of 1988. Prior to 1992, he tried to gather information on human rights violations in Myanmar. With regard to forced labour, he had to work on the railway between Aungban and Loikaw on three occasions. The work site was one hour's march away. He could return home in the evening. He had to bring food and tools. He had to carry out digging and earth moving. Men, women, children (nine to ten years old) and elderly people (over 60) were working with him. More than 150 people in total. A normal working day started at 6 a.m. and finished at 4 p.m. The first time that he had to work there was in December 1990, when the project was just starting. For three months, he had to work three times a week on average, 12 days a month. He had to work on the railway a second time from January to June 1991. The same number of days per month. The third time was from March to May 1992. The same number of days per month. He was not paid. It was impossible to refuse. Workers were afraid of the soldiers' weapons. No one looked after his land in his absence. He had not been ill treated and had not seen other workers ill treated. He did not know if the railway was operating. He thought that only the army would benefit from it. He did not personally do any portering, but he had friends who did. They were subjected to ill treatment and beatings were frequent for any reason. In 1991, a man came back from a portering job near the border and could no longer walk. He also had to pay porters fees. The amount could vary from 70 to 100 kyat. He paid the fees to the village head who handed them over to the military.

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91

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 23, male

Family situation: Single; family of seven (members of his family stayed in Myanmar, Kayah State)

From: Demawso town, Kayah State

The witness left Myanmar in January 1993. Orders for forced labour were given by the village head. Each family had to provide one person to carry out the work. When he was 15, he was arrested by the military who required him for portering work. His teacher intervened, arguing that his pupils (twenty of whom had been arrested) were too young to be porters. They were released. He also had to work on the construction of the military camp for battalion No. 427: the construction of the camp began in March 1991, and was completed in January 1992. He worked there for four days in January 1992. He was 16 then. He had to build huts for the military. About 300 people were working there with him, including 50 to 60 children of his age. He did not see women or elderly people on the working site. He could not rest. He had to bring his own food. The day began at 7 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. He could go home at the end of the day. He was not paid. It was impossible to refuse, except by paying 25 kyat to the village head. He did not see any one ill treated. His elder brother also had to work in another military camp during the same period. In addition, he worked on the railway between Aungban and Loikaw on two occasions. The first in February 1991 for one week. The second in June 1991. The work site was about two hours journey by car. The working day began at 6 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. Three hundred people worked there with him, including about thirty women, forty children his own age and about forty older people (over 50 years old). He worked on the section at the border of Kayah State and Shan State. He had to level the ground. For that, he had to bring his own tools. He had to sleep beside the track, in the open. Food was not provided. He was not paid. Finally, with regard to taxation, for three years, he had to pay porters fees. About 50 kyat a month. He also had to pay taxes for the railway: on one occasion about 300 kyat. He paid the fees to the village head.

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93

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 23, male

Family situation: Four (himself, two brothers and onesister; parents dead)

Education: 7th Standard

Occupation: Family were farmers, he joined army

From: Tantabin, Nyaunglebin township, BagoDivision (village had 100 families)

The witness left school in 1990, joined the army, and became a sergeant. When he was living in the village (around 1985, before joining the army) he remembers villagers being taken as porters, sometimes arranged by the army through the village head, sometimes soldiers came into the village and took people. Ten to 20 people used to go for portering at one time. At that time the village had to provide porters when there were military operations in the area, about once every two to three months, but every house had to pay a monthly porter fee of 40 to 50 kyat. This continued up until the time that he left to join the army. He joined the army in Toungoo, then after one week was sent for basic training for six months in Mingaladon (suburb of Yangon). Then he was stationed with battalion 102 at Ngwedaung in Demawso township in Kayah State. This was when he first saw portering (as a soldier); he saw portering many times while he was a soldier. The porters had to carry loads for the soldiers, and some had to act as local guides for the soldiers. The army got porters in different ways: sometimes a whole village would have to come and work at the army camp; sometimes villagers would be taken through the village head, and sometimes (at the front line) soldiers would take villagers they met to porter for them, or go into villages and grab people. The oldest they took were around 40, and the youngest 13. When the soldiers went on patrol, there would usually be around 30 soldiers and 20 to 30 porters. Sometimes his battalion would take porters for a few months, and occasionally up to a year. Sometimes it was difficult to find an opportunity to release a porter, especially when the troops were moving around at the front line. When on patrol, they would go from village to village or army camp to army camp, sleeping each night at a new place. Porters would be released only when the soldiers had managed to collect new porters. Soldiers would always treat porters badly and swear at them. If they were slow, porters would be beaten and kicked by the soldiers. He saw porters with serious injuries from mine blasts (this was at the front line), porters with malaria, porters with injuries inflicted by the soldiers, and a lot of porters killed by soldiers. When porters tried to escape, they were shot. He has seen porters killed on a minimum of ten occasions; most of these times four to five people were killed, sometimes one or two people were killed at a time. Usually a group of porters would run away and they would be shot. Porters were also injured (on the shoulders) because of the very heavy loads they had to carry; this happened all the time and they were not given any treatment. He went to the front line many times. The porters at the front line had to carry water and shells, and dig bunkers. Sometimes when there was fighting, the soldiers would put the porters in front of them, and if they suspected there were mines in an area, sometimes the porters would have to walk in front of the soldiers. His unit did not collect porter fees, but they would usually take food by force from villages. When they entered a village, the soldiers would first interrogate the villagers asking them what contact they had with rebels. They would arrest people they suspected, and would demand food and alcohol from the village. He has not seen women used as porters, and his platoon never did harm to women, but he has seen women used for forced labour. He has seen villagers forced to build army camps in Demawso, Huay Paung Laung, Hti Hta and Pruso. At least 50 people at a time were forced to build these camps, then four or five people to maintain them. The construction would take around two weeks. Women and children under 13 were not usually used for this work. Orders for building army camps would be given to village heads by the battalion commander, who would call the village heads to the battalion camp. In one case he witnessed at the front line in the latter part of 1992, a large operation involving seven battalions in Kayah State used 3,000 porters over eight months (including government servants, students and prisoners). None of the porters was released over this period. Many porters were beaten, died or were killed. About 500 porters died in this way, two-thirds from disease. Each porter was fed half a condensed milk tin of rice per day, with only salt and fish paste. Porters had to sleep on the ground, and were not given blankets. He was present for the whole eight months. He also saw forced labour many times when he was a soldier. The most difficult was cutting large trees to build army camps. He witnessed this when he was based in Demawso. Orders for forced labour would normally be written orders given from the battalion commander to village heads, who would then arrange villagers to do the work. Sometimes the orders would be given orally. Orders were often accompanied by threats of violence if they were not carried out. He also did labour on the Aungban-Loikaw railway when he was a soldier. He saw many villagers who were forced to do this work--about 1,000 people, but his battalion was not involved in the collection of workers for this project. He and other soldiers from his battalion worked for one month on the railway (doing the labouring, not just guarding), then went back to their battalion. When he was working on the railway, the soldiers and the villagers had to do the same kind of work (clearing and levelling ground), but at different places on the work site. What was different was the way the work was organised: the soldiers had to work for a certain number of hours per day, whereas the villagers were given an assignment to complete a given amount of work, and so it was more difficult for the villagers as they had to finish the work before they could return to their villages. From time to time he would go back to his village, and the villagers all had to do forced labour. People had to go once a week to the army camp three miles from the village, and also had to go as porters for up to four or six months at a time. The villagers had been forced to build this army camp. The life of a soldier was very difficult. The ordinary soldiers were treated very badly by the higher ranks. He deserted because he could not stand the situation any more. The worst thing for him was when at one point in June 1995 the soldiers had no rice for two weeks, and had to survive on jungle leaves (this was at the front line). The rice had been stolen by corrupt people somewhere up the supply line. He always received his wages, but almost every month a proportion was taken as a fine for not carrying out an order properly or some other disagreement. He had wanted to desert since about two years after joining the army; soldiers have to sign on for ten years when they join. If deserters were caught, they would be put in prison. If they took their gun with them when they deserted, they would be killed. Despite this many people were always deserting. He left Myanmar in March 1996.

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94

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 24, male

Family situation: Six (parents, himself and three younger siblings)

Education: Monastery education only

Occupation: Soldier

From: Tan Daw Gyi township, Magway Division

The witness left Myanmar in March 1996. Before that, he joined the army in 1987 (battalion 72), and was in the army for nine years (he was a Private), until deserting with witness 95 in March 1996. He joined the army in Taungdwingyi (signed on for ten years), and stayed there for one month before being sent for training for six months. He then joined Battalion 72 in Kayah State, which was based in Lawpita. The battalion was divided into five companies, and each would rotate at the front line: each company would spend six months at the front line, then rest for a short time, then go again (not always to the same place). He saw portering in Lawpita; his battalion used porters to carry supplies and ammunition to the front line. Porters for the front line troops were taken from nearby and also distant villages. For each group of 30 to 40 soldiers there were about 40 porters. The soldiers used to go into villages and grab people for portering. They took mostly people aged 17 to 40. When they were patrolling, the soldiers would grab porters for a day, then release them the next day if they were able to get more porters at that time. If porters could not carry their load, they would be kicked or beaten; if beaten with a stick, this would often result in injuries such as cuts and bruises. During important times (such as operations), sick porters who could not continue would be shot. The soldiers used to take food from villages for the porters to eat - one condensed milk tin of rice per day, plus curry (not bad food, since it was the same as the villagers ate). When the soldiers went into a village to grab porters, the villagers had no choice but to come: it was an order. If porters tried to run away during portering they were shot. Porters often were injured or died in crossfire during fighting. The soldiers did not put porters in front of them during fighting, or use them as human minesweepers (the unit had a mine expert who could remove suspected mines). He deserted because he couldn't stand the treatment by superiors, especially because they took a part of his salary, and he was unable to support his wife.

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95

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 20, male

Family situation: Parents, himself, and seven siblings

Occupation: Soldier (Private)

From: Lat Paing Taung, Tharawady township, Bago Division

The witness joined the army in 1991. Deserted with witness 94 in March 1996 and left Myanmar. He joined the army in Hmawbyi (Yangon Division), and stayed there for six months, before doing six months' training. He then joined battalion 72 based at Lawpita in Kayah State. He agreed with witness 94's description of the treatment of porters, and the fact that they were not used as human minesweepers. Villagers were forced to do cultivation for the army at his army camp (growing vegetables in the army compound). For this kind of work, one person from each household in the village was required to come to the army camp (the village near the camp had about 500 households). They would not have to come all the time, but would only have to work in large numbers at busy times such as planting and harvesting. Men, women and children all did this work. The soldiers treated the villagers rudely, and swore at them, but he never saw a villager beaten while doing this work. He fled because of a problem with his commanding officer. That officer used to accuse villagers of having contact with rebels, and lock them up. He used this as a means of extorting money from them. While they were locked up they would be beaten and hit with rifles. He had a disagreement with the officer about this and so had to desert. He has heard about soldiers abusing women, but has never seen it himself.

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98

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 27, male

Family situation: Single. Six brothers and sisters

Education: 4th Standard

Occupation: Lead mine worker

From: Plo Ba, Mawchi township, Kayah State (relocated in 1996 to Lo Kha Lu, near Mawchi)

The witness left Myanmar early in 1998. Relocation. Upon an order given by an army officer to the village head, in June 1996 all Plo Ba village moved to a relocation site called Lo Kha Lu, also in Mawchi township, at a half-day's walking distance. Plo Ba village was all Karen, about 50 families. At the same time 12 all-Karen villages were relocated to Lo Kha Lu, where over 150 families now lived. Witness did not know the reason for relocation. No one was allowed to stay in Plo Ba village, they had to destroy their houses themselves. One or two families refused to go and were moved to a different place, all were prohibited from going back. At Lo Kha Lu they had three weeks to build a new village themselves, having carried everything they could themselves from the old village. Lo Kha Lu was at the bottom of a hill, an army post on top of the hill. He worked at the lead mine in Mawchi from 1994 until his relocation and continued thereafter. After relocation to Lo Kha Lu (June 1996), witness worked as a porter three times: twice upon an order received through the village head (for three weeks in August 1996 and for one month only two weeks later). About 150 people had to go each time, including women and boys of about 13 years old; they were not told beforehand for how long, were neither promised nor paid anything, fed one hankaw (soldier's rice carrier, equivalent to four condensed milk tins) of rice for three days and some fish paste and were not allowed to take vegetables from the forest. The third time, in November 1997, he was seized directly by soldiers in Lo Kha Lu village, together with around 100 other people, and forced to carry rice to Buko. He fell sick after a week and could not carry the load anymore; he was given no medicine, but hit with a rifle in his chest, beaten and left on the way; he walked back for two days coughing blood and still has a pain in the chest and cannot work (shows a small scar; he also shows an accidental gunshot scar sustained in 1995 when staying with his female cousin at her request when she was visited at night time by soldiers.) He also saw that when 100 people were seized as porters in November 1997 in Lo Kha Lu, some refused and were hit and kicked, punched in the face by the soldiers, he saw their swollen faces, bleeding. He saw nothing happen to women. In the old village (Plo Ba), before 1996, people had to do portering, including his family, but for short-distance, for instance carrying food rations for one day, once or twice a month. Starting December 1997, many villagers were ordered through their head to work on improving the old road from Mawchi to Toungoo. His family was allotted one mile to fill up holes with stones and widen the road by half a metre on either side. They had to bring all the equipment and food from home. Since their allotted stretch was close to their village, he went and did the whole work with his elder sister in ten days, walking every morning and evening two hours from and to the village. They were not paid anything. In addition, from his village, 15 people at a time were required at all times at the camp, plus people from other villages, altogether about 60 people at a time. Since relocation (as well as before, in Plo Ba), his family had to send a worker about three times per month for four days to the camp. He worked there for the last time in November 1997, upon the village head's instruction (before he was seized as a porter). For two days he dug a bunker; the next two days he started making a fence, which someone else had to finish after him. Furthermore, every Saturday, upon an order from an army officer through the village head, one person per family had to work a half-day to clear the bush around the village and do sanitation. Finally, at least twice a month for half a day, he had to do "emergency" work like carrying food rations or fetch water for the army. Overall, in the last few months of 1997, he had to work five days a week for the army and had only two days a week to work for his family. (Moreover, his sister also had to do forced labour on the road.) In his family, there was only one elder sister and their mother besides him; the other brothers and sisters had left. The father had died. The sister worked in the garden, but the mother could not work because of a stomach problem. At the mine, he received 150 kyat a day for pushing a trolley, but when he did forced labour, he was not paid. He was never paid for forced labour neither at the road building work nor elsewhere.

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100

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 36, male

Family situation : Married with one son and one daughter

Occupation: Farmer

From: Si Ko Leh, Shadaw township, Kayah State (whole village relocated by force to Shadaw on 7 June 1996)

(The witness gave his testimony in the presence of witnesses 101, 102, 103 and 104.)

The witness had to do forced labour before and after his relocation. He left Myanmar in February 1997 after escaping from prison. Before relocation he was a porter on one occasion in 1990, during the dry season, just after New Year. He was 27 then. He received the order from the village head. He had to carry rice rations in a mountainous region near Shadaw for three days. The distance covered was a total of 22 miles. He went to a military camp in the mountains (average size, one company). There were about 34 porters, including five people from his village, for 60 soldiers. There were no women, but children (13 to 15 years) and one old person (60). The day began at 4 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. The porters had to start before dawn and were not allowed to use electric torches. They were allowed a few minutes rest. The first night he slept in the forest and the following two nights he slept in villages. He did not see any fighting. He was not personally ill treated, but he saw other people beaten or struck with sticks, rifles or kicked because they could not carry the load they had been given. It was possible to pay a substitute. The amount necessary was around 300 to 400 kyat. The whole village was relocated on 7 June 1996. Apart from a little rice, he could not take anything with him. He went to a site near a military camp at Shadaw. He had to build a shelter for his family as there was nothing on the site. He did not see anyone ill-treated. The authorities suspected him of belonging to the rebels. He was arrested a few days after his arrival. He was kept in prison for six months. He was tortured, mainly through his hands being tied to the ceiling and his feet bound for long periods of time. During the month when he was not in prison, he had to do various types of work for the military. All the families were subject to forced labour. They could not do anything else. After relocation, he had to build fencing and cut wood. He had to work on four occasions, once a week during the month when he was not in prison. The village head gave him his work assignment. The day normally started at 6 a.m. and finished at 4 p.m. About 30 to 60 people were working with him, including five to ten women who had to do the same work. He was not paid. It was not possible to refuse. In the event of refusal, the authorities deprived them of the small amount of rice which was distributed.

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101

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 23, male

Family situation: Married with no children

Occupation: Farmer

From: Daw Taku, Shadaw township, Kayah State (village forcibly relocated to Shadaw in June 1996)

(The witness gave his testimony in the presence of witnesses 100, 102, 103 and 104.)

The witness had to work for the army before and after his relocation. He left Myanmar in October 1997. Before relocation, he had to do portering on four occasions. The village head transmitted the order to work. The first time, he was 15 years old. On that occasion, he had to work during the rainy season near the river Salween. The portering lasted 20 days. There were 40 porters, three from his village, for 250 soldiers. There were no women, but young men of 15 to 16 years. The oldest might have been 50. He had to carry cooking pots. He did not see any fighting. He was once kicked because he was not going fast enough. Same routine and treatment the other times he was a porter, aged 15, 16 and 17. The assignments lasted: three days (the second); six days (the third); and 15 days (the fourth). After relocation he also had to do forced labour, the same type of work as witness 100. The work just never ended. He had to work two or three times a month. He was allowed to go home in his free time to fetch food. There were two battalions of 500 men each at Shadaw (LIB 350 and LIB 428).

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102

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 33, male

Family situation: Widowed with one son (his wife died at Shadaw a few days after giving birth, due to lack of necessary medical care)

Occupation: Farmer

From: Daw Kraw Aw, Shadaw township, Kayah State (village had 103 families about 1,000 people; the village was forcibly relocated to Shadaw in May 1996)

(The witness gave his testimony in the presence of witnesses 100, 101, 103 and 104.)

The witness's village was burned by the army so that the inhabitants could not go back. He carried out forced labour before and after relocation. He left Myanmar in August 1996. Before relocation, he was a porter on one occasion in 1993 during the rainy season. The assignment lasted two days. There were 30 porters for 70 soldiers, including two children (13 years old) and four people over 60. All the porters were men. The day began at 9 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. He had to carry ammunition and rice rations for the army from his village to another village. He received very little food and had to sleep in the forest. He was not paid. He was not personally subjected to ill treatment. However his friend was beaten with a stick because, exhausted, he dropped the load he had been given. After relocation, he had to do forced labour for the military. The village head transmitted the work order to him. Same nature as witness 100. The work demanded by the military just never ended. During the one-and-a-half months he stayed at the relocation site, he had to work for the military three times. The military provided food intermittently. The rations were in any case inadequate. He was not allowed to go home. He was not paid. He could not refuse. It was always possible to pay a substitute or bribe someone to be exempted. He did not do so and did not know how much would have to be paid. The military had seized all his animals (buffalos, one cow, four pigs, ten chickens). He went back to his village for a few days before coming to Thailand.

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103

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 30, male

Family situation: Married with three sons

Occupation: Farmer

From: Daw Klaw Leh Du, Shadaw township, Kayah miles from the relocation site at Shadaw; it was forcibly relocated there in June 1996)

(The witness gave his testimony in the presence of witnesses 100, 101, 102 and 104.)

The witness's village was relocated to Shadaw in June 1996. In August 1997, he left Shadaw to live in the Soh Paw hills six miles away. There he farmed rice and vegetables, but was forced to move by the army, so came to Thailand at the end of 1997. He had to do forced labour before and after his relocation. Before relocation, he had to work on road building (carrying rocks) and had to carry out various types of work for the military: cutting bamboo, building shelters for relocated people, cleaning the camps. As the relocation site was near his village, he helped in the preparatory work. He did that work for three years, ten times a month, six times a year. He saw men, women, children (ten years) and older people (over 50 years) working. After relocation, he had to do the same work as witness 100. In addition, he had to build shelters for people who had been relocated and help repair the road to Loikaw. He had to work three times a month, a total of 12 times in the year. The remaining time, he worked as a day labourer on farms near the camp (the owners were Karenni and Shan). He was paid in kyat and rice. He was arrested once because he refused to work. He spent a night and two days in prison. He was beaten. He saw many other people beaten (30 to 50 people). Soldiers appropriated all his animals without compensation, arguing that the animals were wild and so they could take them.

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106

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 35, male

Family situation: Married with three sons and three daughters

Occupation: Farmer

From: Daw Kraw Aw, Shadaw township, Kayah State (village had 105 families and a population of over 500; village was forcibly relocated to Shadaw in June 1996)

The witness left Myanmar in June 1996. Before the relocation of his village, he had been a porter, and had worked on the roads and the railway. He was a porter four times. The first time ten years ago (aged 12) and the last time about five years ago. He had to carry food and munitions, during the dry season (three times) and the rainy season (once). Only men were porters. However, he saw children of about ten years old accompanying the group and having to carry various things. The assignments lasted two, three and seven days. He had to sleep in the forest. The military only intermittently provided one meal a day. The ration was totally inadequate. He did not see any fighting. He was not personally beaten, but saw his friend beaten because he could not keep up with the group. He worked on the road between Shadaw and the river Salween (about ten miles). He worked there for a day about eight years ago (1992). The village head informed him of the work to be done. More than 1,000 people from various villages worked with him, including women (about twenty), children (about ten aged seven) and older people (about thirty aged over 60). The day began at 7 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. He had to clear the route. He had to bring his own food. He was not paid. He was not subjected to ill treatment. He did not see any ill treatment, either. He had to carry logs six years ago, for the railway near Shadaw. He did not know which railway. The village head informed him of the work that had to be done. About fifty other people had to do the same. He was never paid, even though he was promised that he would be compensated. After relocation he left his village because he did not want to go to the relocation site. The village head showed him the order from the military stating that the whole village was to be transferred to the Shadaw site by 7 June 1996. He saw the document three days before the deadline. As he could not read, the village head told him what it said. He did not want to move to the relocation site because he was afraid that he would not be able to provide for his family's needs. In addition, he had been told that people who were relocated were forced to work for the military without pay.

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107

Age/sex: 41, male

Ethnicity: Karenni

Family situation: Married with three daughters and three sons

Occupation: Farmer

From: Daw Kraw Aw, Shadaw township, Kayah State (village had 105 families and a population of over 500; it was forcibly relocated to Shadaw in June 1996)

The witness left Myanmar in June 1996, after a few days at the Shadaw relocation site. Before the relocation of his village, he was a porter for the army three times. The first time when he was 15. The last time, two years before his departure. That was during the rainy season. Only men were porters, including children (about eight years old) and older people (over 70 years). On leaving his village, he had to go to Shan State. There were more than 80 porters for 500 soldiers. He was not able, however, to see all the porters. He had to carry munitions. The days began at 6 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. He was allowed only one meal a day, a handful of rice. He had to sleep in the forest. He was not paid. He was beaten and kicked because he was too weak to carry the load he had been given. He also had to work for a military camp at Shadaw three years ago, seven or eight times. The village head told him about the work to be done. He mainly had to do road repairs, work on bunkers, cut bamboo and carry rocks. About 500 to 600 people were working with him each time, including women (about 20) and children (about twenty as young as seven years of age). They did the same work. The day began at 6 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. He was not paid. He could not refuse and could not pay for a substitute. He was beaten several times because the soldiers thought he was not working properly. He also saw several other people beaten. However, he did not know why they were beaten. The village head told him that he must leave with the rest of the village. He did not personally see the relocation order. He left the relocation site after a few days because he did not even have a shelter where his family could stay. He had not been able to bring anything with him. The few days he stayed at the relocation site he was not forced to do any work.

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108

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 40, male

Family situation: Married with two daughters and one son

Occupation: Farmer

From: Daw Klaw Leh Du, Shadaw township, Kayah State (village had 35 families and a population of over 200; forcibly relocated with all his family to Shadaw in July 1996)

The witness left Myanmar in July 1996. Before his village was relocated, he was a porter for the army on innumerable occasions. The first time was ten years ago. The second three years ago. The assignments lasted from one to ten days. He had to sleep in the forest. The village head transmitted the orders of the military to him. Only the men were porters, including children aged about 15 and older people (over 60). The number of porters depended on the number of soldiers. For 100 soldiers, 40 porters were required. For 200 soldiers, 80 porters were required. He had to carry munitions. The day began at 6 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. He was only allowed one meal a day. The ration was always inadequate. He was not paid. He saw one battle seven years ago near his village against the KNPP. During the battle, the porters had to stay with the soldiers. No porter was killed. He had not personally been subjected to ill treatment. However, other porters had been beaten. He had seen one porter who had tried to escape being caught by the soldiers. He was tied to a tree and had to stay like that all night after being beaten and kicked. He had been moved to the relocation site in July 1996. The village head had told him of the relocation order and the deadline. Anyone who stayed in the village would be shot on sight. He stayed at the relocation site for about thirty days. He was forced to work about five days during that time. The village head told him what work he had to do. He mainly had to cut wood and bamboo and build fences. He had to work for whole days at a time. Between 20 and 60 people, including women, children (eight years of age) and older people (over 70 years of age) were working at the same time as him doing the same jobs. He was not paid. He could pay a substitute to do the work in his place. He did not do so because he did not have the money. If workers did not find a substitute or did not pay a bribe, they were generally punished by being imprisoned for three days and then forced to work. He was not beaten personally but he saw two people who were beaten because their work did not satisfy the soldiers. The rest of the time, he had no work. He was able to go back home twice to fetch food.

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109

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 34, male

Family situation: Nine (him, mother, two sisters, wife and four children)

Education: 6th Standard

Occupation: Collected and sold firewood, etc.

From: Shwenyaung, Taunggyi township, Shan State (Shwenyaung had about 6,000 households, 400 in his ward)

The villagers in his Shwenyaung had to do a lot of forced labour and portering. If someone did not go for portering when ordered, they would be arrested and forced to pay a fine of 3,000 kyat. If they did not have this much money, as was often the case, property to that value would be taken. If an important person visited, the people would be forced to clean up the village. The first forced labour he did was constructing a railway line from Shwenyaung to Yatsauk (Lawksawk) in 1992/3. This work started in 1991, but the preliminary clearing work, etc. was done by rural villagers, and only when larger numbers of workers were required did the army start to use urban dwellers such as people from Shwenyaung. The order was given to the Ward LORC (YaWaTa) by the army, and the Ward LORC (YaWaTa) ordered one person from each household to work without fail. Those households who could not send anyone had to pay 150 kyat. He saw hundreds of people working on the railway line. Shwenyaung was split into groups, and one person from each household in the group would have to do forced labour one day per week, with people from different groups working on different days, by rotation. The workers would have to take their own food, and would not be able to return from the work site until late at night. This work went on for a year, but he only did it himself for two months, after which he paid money so he wouldn't have to go, as it was affecting his income. He was only able to afford to pay this money for a month, after which he neither did forced labour, nor paid money. He was in constant trouble because of this, and was called to see the authorities several times, but managed to avoid arrest. The authorities threatened that if someone didn't do forced labour, or pay their fine, they would be arrested and locked up. He saw both women and men doing the work, ranging in age from 13/14 to 60/70. The workers were not beaten, but one person was forced to go from each household, regardless of the situation, so this is why women, children and old people had to go (about half the workers were women). The work he had to do was building an embankment, digging and levelling the ground, and breaking rocks. The workers were collected and taken to the work site in trucks, but they had to find their own way home, late at night. If workers were sick, they did not receive any treatment. If they did not complete their work assignment in time, they would have to come back the next day. He didn't see anyone beaten when doing forced labour, but he himself was beaten during portering. The next type of forced labour he did was also constructing a railway, this time from Shwenyaung to Namhsam. This was in 1995 or 1996. The work was the same as before, and was arranged in the same way. He did this work himself for the first two weeks, then sent his 13-year-old son for the following two weeks. After that he paid 150 kyat per time to avoid going. He paid this money for three months, then could not afford to any more. Then he neither paid nor worked, and was constantly in trouble. The railway line still was not finished. The next forced labouring he did was portering. He started on 17 November 1997. The order again came from army to the Ward LORC (YaWaTa). The order required 40 porters from Shwenyaung, and the residents had to come to the LORC office and draw lots. Five porters were required from his ward (he was one of those chosen). It was possible for those chosen to be porters to pay 3,000 kyat to be exempted; officials would then use some of this money to hire a substitute. He did not have money so he had to go. The lottery to choose porters took place at 8 a.m., and those who were chosen were detained in a military-owned movie house; this was where all the porters were collected from the different wards, a total of about 60 people. He had to send his wife to bring some personal items from their house. They were not informed of the period that they would be away. At 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. they were moved from the movie house and taken by truck to a military camp in Loikaw, and kept in the lock-up there. They spent one night in the lock-up and were then sent by truck at about 7 a.m. to the Shadaw area. They spent one night there, then at 6 a.m. the next morning they were taken to the Salween river. They crossed the river with motor boats. Once on the other side of the Salween, the porters were given their loads (rice, ammunition, and other supplies); he had to carry rice. At this time two porters threw down their loads and ran away. The soldiers shot at them, but did not hit them. The soldiers and porters walked for the rest of the day, then slept in the open beside a stream that night. They continued walking the next morning and arrived at Meh Te in Kayah State (a village which has been relocated and burned). At this point one porter was unable to continue as he was delirious from a sore leg and shoulder pain. Three or four soldiers began kicking him and beating him with rifle butts, until his face was badly injured and blood was coming out of his mouth. A soldier with two stripes then pointed his gun at the porter and was about to shoot him when the commanding officer intervened. The porter was forced to continue, but was given a military backpack to carry instead of his load. That night at around 8 p.m. they arrived at Kyauk Tat Kwe army camp (battalion 261). The porters then had to cook (for the army as well as for themselves, but separately). The porters were given one condensed milk tin of rice to cook between two people. They were not given any curry or salt or anything with the rice. That night it rained. The porters had to sleep on the ground under the house where the soldiers stayed. They left at 6 a.m. the next morning. On the way, some of the porters who were about 60 were beaten by the soldiers because they could not keep up. At 6 p.m. they arrived at the top of 3222 Hill (named after the elevation), and slept the night. The next day they left again at 6 a.m., and went to Sin Taung ("Elephant Hill"). They had to walk the whole day to get there, and they stayed one night. The next day at 6 a.m. they went to Tin Shu Hill, and arrived at about 1 p.m. On the way, one man was tired and could not continue. The soldiers beat and kicked him, and burned him with cigarettes. Then he was tied up and thrown by the side of the path (he later heard that someone had been sent to get him, but he does not know for sure whether this happened). At Tin Shu Hill they stayed two nights (rested for one day). Then they set off back to 3222 Hill, carrying a soldier who had a bullet wound. On the way back they stopped at Daw Taket (a supply base) and picked up some rice to take back to Tin Shu Hill. They stopped for the night at about 10 p.m. at a village known as Thit Set ('Saw Mill'). The next morning they left at 6 a.m. and went to Tin Shu Hill, via Sin Taung. They stayed one night at Sin Taung (where one porter managed to run away). The next day they got back to Tin Shu Hill and rested there for a few days. After this rest they set off with heavy loads for another hill (he does not remember the name). On the way he began suffering from malaria, and was beaten with a rifle butt by a soldier because he could not keep up. They did not reach their destination that night, and had to sleep the night next to a river. He was very sick, and was given two tablets, but they did nothing, and he thinks they were just painkillers. He thought that he would probably die if he had to continue, so that night at 2 a.m. he went to go to the toilet, and ran away. They came looking for him with flashlights, but he hid behind trees when the flashlight beams came near him. He walked for three days to get to the border. His family has no idea what has happened to him.

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112

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 25, male

Family situation: Twelve (mother, father, himself, 11 younger siblings)

Education: 8th Standard

Occupation: Farmer

From: Demawso town, Kayah State

The witness came to Thailand in June 1993 because he could not continue to do forced labour and portering; his family is still in Myanmar (he fled directly after his final portering trip). He had done portering eight times, the first time in May 1990 (he was the only member of his family who did portering). He was scared that he would have to work for up to six months, so on six of the eight occasions he ran away (the other two times he was released). The first time he was forced to work in a saw-mill, but he ran away after a week. The second time he had to porter for two months in Pwe Pu Laung, after which time he ran away. The third and fourth times he ran away after one month of portering. The fifth time he was a porter for one month, to Hti Hta, and after three weeks ran away. The sixth time was also portering to Hti Hta, and he ran away after one month. The seventh time was close to the Thai border in Kayah State with LIB 18, and he was released after two months. The eighth time was again near the Thai border, near BP9 (Thai Border Patrol Police checkpoint 9); he was released after two months. When portering, he usually carried artillery shells, but also sometimes water, rice, and other ammunition. He portered at the front line, on military operations, and between (non front line) army camps. Sometimes the porters were ordered by the army from the village/ward head, and sometimes the soldiers captured porters directly, especially at markets or movie theatres. The work was the same regardless of which method was used. For him, the most common method was via the village head. Normally, one person from a small village, or one person from each section in a larger village would have to go for portering at a time; who went would be determined by the village head, and if the person he chose was unable to go, they would have to pay 3,000 to 4,000 kyat. If the soldiers found they did not have enough porters after this, they would come and take them directly. The times he went portering, there were usually about 50 porters (sometimes from as far away as Shan State). Porters were punched and kicked by the soldiers, and hit with rifle butts when they could not do the work. This never happened to him because he was able to do the work. Some porters were as young as 13, and some were old. Women were not normally taken as porters, but one time when he was portering near Shadaw, he saw four women taken as porters, because the soldiers could not find enough men. They were forced to carry four 84 mm artillery shells each (about 16 viss, or 25 kg). After one day they were released. The food for porters was not sufficient, consisting of a small amount of rice. Porters were not given water, but had to grab some whenever they passed a stream. Porters had to sleep on the ground with no blankets. The worst experience he had while portering was while carrying artillery shells on his last portering trip. A battle broke out with Karenni rebels, including mortar fire; some porters were killed. The worst treatment he saw of porters was when a porter became sick with diarrhoea and lost strength. The porter was not treated and was forced to continue and died. In another case, a porter ran away, and the soldiers grabbed another porter who seemed about to follow him, then shot him in front of the other porters as a warning for them not to try to run away. He had also done forced labour, as had other members of his family; aside from portering, at least once a month some member of his family had to do some form of forced labour. When he was in Demawso he and others were forced to collect bamboo, bamboo shoots and other things, starting in 1990. He often had to do this once a week. Forced labour included work on the Aungban-Loikaw railway. They had to build an embankment across rice fields, 16 feet wide at the top, 18 feet wide at the base, and eight feet high. This work was from 1992 to 1993, with each family being give a certain quota to complete (about ten feet of embankment to the above specifications, which would take a family between one week and one month). The railway was completed now. No-one was paid for this work; people who could not go were required to pay 1,200 kyat. The orders to do this work came from the SLORC, via the VLORC. A meeting would be called to explain to the village heads what had to be done, and the village head would then instruct his villagers accordingly. He had to work on the railway three times (for three weeks, five days and three days respectively). The soldiers at the work-site didn't treat him badly, but he saw them beat other workers and threaten them at gunpoint if they were not working to the soldiers' satisfaction. After the embankment was built, it had to be covered with rock chippings, then the sleepers and railway track would be laid. There were also prison labourers doing this work, and he heard that the treatment they received from the soldiers was much worse. The amount of various forms of forced labour increased to about once a week per household, in addition to portering. It became impossible to do this much forced labour and still earn a living.

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115

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 39, male

Family situation: Married with three children

Occupation: Farmer and village head (1994 to 1996)

From: Pa Ku Da, Bawlake township, Kayah State (village on the bank of the Salween close to Ywathit; forcibly relocated to Ywathit in 1996)

The witness's village was part of large-scale relocations. The entire village was ordered to relocate. Order came from an army officer on 16 April 1996. Fifteen families, about 50 to 60 people (mostly children) affected. He tried to stay and ignore the order. Second order came saying the villagers had to move, and that if they stayed the village would be burned down. Other villages in the area were also being relocated at the same time: about seven (100 families in total) all Shan villages in Kayah State. His village was relocated to Ywathit near an army post on the hill above the paddy field where they were sent. Half-day travel by foot away from their village. They were given one week to move and had to leave most of their possessions behind, including water buffaloes and chickens, since there was no motor road to the new site. Other villages moved with them were Wan Loi, Wan Pla, Ko Su Pa, Ho Hta, Wan Pha Ku and Leh Way. They could only take one pot of rice with them. Went back one time after one week time period elapsed without authorization to try to find buffalo, but could not find them. They were given much less land in the new place: ten to 20 times less than cultivated before. Told to build new houses themselves. Not given building materials, just a very small amount of rice, equal to one soldier's rice pot a week per person. Had to live with villagers already there until they built their own houses. Military units in area of original and relocated village: Battalion numbers 54, 72 and 102 before 1994. Division 55 and LIB 429 after 1994. As village head he had a lot of experience with forced labour. The work his villagers were ordered to do was mainly work at the army camp, including maintenance work and portering. This was done on a rotating basis: five people each week every week, one per family, from ten days to one month in length. Orders came in written form and were received by him. No one dared to refuse to go when told to do so. If someone was sick someone else had to go in their place. The village collected 30 to 40 kyat per day to cover the cost of 210 to 280 kyat per person per day. This was paid to an administrative officer, not the military. He did forced labour himself before he became village head in 1994, but not after. Forced labour was also required for work on the road to the mouth of the Pai River from the village, one week per family; work was also done with forced labourers from other villages in the area. This was in 1994, before portering and army camp work was required on a regular basis beginning in 1995. Other types of forced labour were not required because the village was small there were only a limited number of available families and workers. With regard to the way people were requested, the first order that came was simple, telling a certain number to report for work. But if the villagers were late or did not come then the second order came and would be more threatening. It came with a bullet and a chilli. These were traditional warnings meaning death and making things hot for the village. He had to keep the order at all times, and send back the bullet and chilli to show he had received them and understood the message. Orders came from LIB 429 and/or 55 Division. He saw abuses when he was a porter (pre-1994). Labourers were forced to go on foot with very heavy loads, and to keep up the steady, fast pace. Once a porter could not keep up and a soldier took his rice sack and hit him hard on the back of the neck, forcing him to the ground. He was badly injured and died. That was in 1992 during the big offensive in Mye Leh, near the river Pai. Villagers who returned reported never getting enough food and only a small ration of rice per day. If a villager fled during a forced labour assignment the village head had to go to the army to bribe them or pay a fine. Usually, they paid in chickens. Once he had to send women as porters as men were not available. Once they told the soldiers there were not enough people to send and meet the quota. The soldiers came to the village, called everyone out: men, women and children, even babies, and took everyone to the camp for forced labour for four days. The men cut bamboo, the women cooked and cleaned the compound. They were told "this was the first punishment. If you disobey again we will punish you this way again." He heard about but did not witness mistreatment of others during forced labour. Rapes were reported when the soldiers were on patrol or entered a village. He was paid only once for forced labour when repairing an old traffic road. He received 25 kyat a day for seven days.

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118

Ethnicity: Karenni

Age/sex: 21, male

Family situation: Was single when left Myanmar (now married); four siblings

Education: 1st Standard

Occupation: Farmer

From: Daw So Kya, Shadaw township, Kayah State (village forcibly relocated to Shadaw in June 1996)

Order came in June 1996 to relocate to Shadaw. He left there one month after the relocation to flee to Thailand with parents. There were 89 families in Daw So Kya that were relocated. Order was to relocate in one week or be shot. The new site was five hours walk away. Could only take what could be carried. Buffalo were left behind. Given only a tiny piece of land of five metres square, only enough to build a house but not enough to farm. No materials for building were provided. Given a small amount of rice as a ration. With no land and no job there was no way to survive. That was why they fled across the border. Every villager had to do forced labour, even women and children. He portered himself four times, three times before he was 18. First and second times were when he was 11, when he was used as a guide to lead the troops. The third time troops came in and seized people. They tied and beat the village head and took him (he was 12 years old at the time) and used him as a guide again. The fourth time, he was working in his field plowing with his father. Troops came and seized them both to carry ammunition. He was 17 or 18 at that time. He portered for five days. A fight broke out with the insurgents near Daw Ei Lah village. One woman porter tried to run from the fighting that broke out with others and her baby on her back was shot and killed. Those who could not carry their loads were beaten. No food was given so people were weak, and then they were beaten and kicked. Sometimes they would torture the workers by hanging them by the legs with a stick under their knees. Women and children over 12 or 13 were also used as porters, as well as old men. The porters were neither paid nor fed; they had to beg food from houses in villages along the way. They were given only a small amount of dry bread when they got to the Pon river. Orders were also issued for forced labourers to cut bamboo and do other work in the military camp. Five to ten at a time were called from the village to do this from the 89 families on a rotating basis. They had to build bunkers and cut logs for camp buildings.

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119

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 36, male

Family situation: Married with one daughter

Occupation: Farmer

From: Banlak, Taunggyi township, Shan State

(grew up in a village near Namhsam town)

The witness left Myanmar in mid-1997. He was called up by the army for portering, road and railway construction, and work for a military camp. It was the village head who transmitted the order from the military. In general, the rule was one person per family. However, it often happened that when the designated member was far away, the military requisitioned an additional member of the family. When he was away on the work assigned to him, his brother looked after his land. He personally had to do forced labour for the military on average twice a month, every month for 15 years (portering, railway, roads combined). The first time he had to porter for the military was 15 years ago. The last time was six months ago. The assignments could last from five days to a month. He had to carry rice and ammunition. Fifteen porters were required for 20 soldiers. Forty to 50 porters for 60 to 70 soldiers. Men and women could be called up, including children aged 15 and 16 and people over 60 years. He had to march all day. He was not regularly fed. The rations were always inadequate. He had to sleep in the jungle. He was not paid. It was impossible to refuse or pay a substitute. Twice he saw people killed because they refused to do the work. It was always possible to pay a bribe: 5,000 kyat each time. He once tried to pay not to go but the village head refused his money. He therefore had to work. He was subjected to ill treatment, being beaten twice. He saw other porters struck and beaten to death. He also saw porters shot by the military. In cases where the women could no longer carry the loads assigned to them, they were subjected to sexual abuse (rape). He had personally seen that on four or five occasions. He also worked on road construction for the first time 13 years ago. The last time about six months ago. He worked on many roads, notably Shwenyaung- Yatsauk (Lawksawk) and Shwenyaung- Namhsam. He had to make embankments and level the road. The roads were used exclusively by the military. About 2,000 people worked on the roads at the same time as him, including men, women, children and older people. The day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. with an hour's rest at midday. He had to bring his own food. He was not paid. Any refusal could lead to arrest and a fine of 1,000 kyat and the obligation to work. It was not possible to hire a substitute. The soldiers supervised the work. He saw many people subjected to ill treatment because their work did not satisfy the military. When he was on railway construction, he had to build embankments, level the ground and lay the track. He saw the track on which he had worked when it was finished: Yatsauk (Lawksawk) to Patu and Namhsam to Shwenyaung. The railways were used both by the military and civilians. The whole of Taunggyi had to participate. Three thousand people worked on the railways at the same time as him, including men, women, children and older people. The situation was the same as for work on the roads as regards hours of work, food, pay, possibility of refusing, the consequences of refusal and ill treatment inflicted by the military. He also worked five times for a military camp in Namhsam, from the age of 13 (1975) to 19 (1981). Each assignation lasted about ten days. He had to sleep in the military camp. Sixty to 70 people worked with him each time, including men, women and older people (over 60 years). There were no children. He had to bring his own food and had to provide water to the military. The day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. He was not paid. It was impossible to refuse or pay a substitute. He was not personally subjected to ill treatment, but twice he saw people beaten by the military. With regard to taxation, part of his harvest had to be given to the military. If the farmers could not pay the tax, they were put in prison.

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121

Ethnicity: Pa-o

Age/sex: 22, male

Family situation: Married with one daughter (aged two)

Occupation: Farmer

From: Wan Yong, Panglong village-tract, Loilem township, Shan State (village relocated to Panglong at the end of 1997)

The witness's village was relocated to Panglong at the end of 1997. He left Myanmar in January 1998 and walked for four days to reach Thailand. Before relocation he worked as a porter, on construction of roads and railways and in military camps growing maize and rice. He was a porter for the army for the first time at the age of 16 and the last time about a year ago. He had been a porter countless times. The village head informed him of the order from the military. The assignments could last from one to three days. He had to carry rice and ammunition. Only men between 14 and 50 years of age were porters. The food rations were always inadequate. The hours could vary. He often had to march for many hours without rest.He had to sleep in the jungle. He had not seen any fighting. He was not paid. It was possible to pay a substitute: 400 to 500 kyat a time. It was impossible to pay bribes, because the military needed porters. He had been subjected to ill treatment and had personally been beaten with a rifle on three occasions because he was walking too slowly. He saw many other porters beaten because they could not carry the load given to them. He had also worked on the railway for a year two years ago, on the line between Namhsam and Mongnai. These lines were finished and used by both military and civilian traffic. He had to work there every day. He had to level the ground, carry and break stones. He had to sleep at the work site. Five hundred to 600 people worked with him on the site, including men and women (no children). He was not paid. He had to bring his own food. The day began at 8 a.m. and finished at 5 p.m., with an hour for lunch. He had to take on day labourers to work on his farm. He had not personally been subjected to ill treatment. However, if the workers tried to escape and were caught, they were beaten with a stick. He saw that happen twice. He worked on road construction three years ago on the road between Panglong and Namhsam. He worked about 25 times there (for one day) during the year. He had to bring his own food. Twenty to 25 people worked there at the same time as him, including men and women (no children). He had not been subjected to ill treatment and had not seen others ill treated, although the military often shouted at them. He had also been forced to work five times a year ago on the military's fields, growing maize and rice. Twenty people had worked there at the same time as him. He had been relocated two months ago. The village head had informed him that he had three days to move. No one was allowed to stay in the village. All the people of the village were relocated to different places. The village was then burned by the military. He stayed at the relocation site near Panglong for two months. He left there because he could not find enough work to provide for his family's needs. He was not allowed to return to his village to fetch food. However, he had not been forced to work for the military or anyone else.

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122

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 23, male

Family situation: Single, his parents are alive and he has five brothers

From: Mauk Mong Lae, Taunggyi township, Shan State (village had 30 families)

The witness left Myanmar in mid-1997 because he did not want to be requisitioned as a porter by the army. He had never himself been a porter. He knew several people who had done portering (not in his immediate family). However, he had to do other forms of forced labour: roads and railways. He worked on the building of the road between Yatsauk (Lawksauk) and

Yangon, two years ago (1995), about ten times during the year. The village head informed him of the work required. The day began at 6 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. He had to bring his own food. Forty people worked at the same time as him, including men, women, children (16 years) and older people (over 50 years). He could return to the village to sleep. He was not

paid. It was possible to pay a substitute: 50 kyat a time. Bribes were impossible. His brother looked after the farm in his absence. He had not personally been subjected to ill treatment. The soldiers often shouted at them. He had sometimes seen people who had tried to escape being caught and beaten with wooden sticks by the soldiers. He also worked on the railway line between Taunggyi and May Shee Law a year ago about ten times. Each assignment lasted 15 days on average. The village head informed him of the work required. He had to carry and break rock. He had to sleep in nearby villages because he could not go home. He had to bring his own food. Forty people worked there at the same time as him, including

men, women and children (16 years). He had been subjected to ill treatment because the soldiers thought that he worked too slowly.

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123

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 25, male

Family situation: Nine (mother, father, him and four siblings)

Occupation: Farm labourer

From: Mong Yen, Kyaukme township, Shan State (45 households in his section of the village)

The witness left Myanmar at the end of 1997. He left because of too much forced labour. He did forced labour collecting rubber trees (saplings) for a very large army rubber plantation (stretching for about 2 miles), then planting the saplings to make the plantation, then looking after them. The plantation was owned by battalion 324. The villagers who did this work were given no money or food, and even had to bring their own tools. They had to work for ten to 15 days a month. In his family him, he parents and his brothers and sisters all did this work at various times. There were between five and 30 other villagers doing this work at any one time, depending on how much work needed to be done. They were ordered to do this work by the soldiers, through the village head, and if they did the work badly, they would have to come back again to re-do it. The villagers (including him) also had to work on a sugar-cane plantation for battalion 324. They had to do all the work: clearing the ground, planting the sugar cane, looking after it. When the sugar cane was ready for harvest, they had to bring the village sugar-cane machine to crush the cane and extract the juice, then make it into raw sugar

("chandagar"). This then had to be given to the soldiers. All this work was done without pay or food being provided, and the villagers even had to bring their own tools, including the village-owned sugar cane machine. About 20 to 30 villagers at one time would have to do this work. The soldiers then sold the sugar (not locally) for their own profit. The orders to do

this work also came from the battalion via the village head. His older brother used to do portering, not him. His brother first went in 1989, and was away for four months, carrying

things for the soldiers. Porters were demanded by the soldiers via the village head, but they also sometimes came directly to the village and rounded people up. At the time when he left,

there was not much portering, it was mostly forced labour. This has been the case since the 1996 cease-fire, but before this there was a lot of portering and little or no forced labour.

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124

Ethnicity: Pa-o

Age/sex: 23, male

Family situation: Nine (him, wife and seven children)

Occupation: Farmer

From: Bang Nim, Sanin village-tract, near Panglong in Loilem township, Shan State (village had 80 households)

Twenty days ago the whole of Sanin village-tract was ordered by Infantry Battalion 513 to relocate to Panglong within seven days. He and his family moved to the relocation site, but

there was nothing there and they had to build a house and set up everything, so he fled with his family (his parents were too old to make the trip, so they stayed behind with his sister). He thought the relocation was done because the army was frightened of rebels. They were told that those who did not relocate would be shot. It was a one-day journey to the relocation site, so they could not take all their possessions and had to leave animals behind. They could not go back to work in their fields, so the farmers who were relocated had to get work as labourers for farmers in Panglong; some people had to beg. Relocated villagers were allowed to leave the relocation site during the day, but had to return by 5 p.m. There was not much forced labour before, but once they arrived at the relocation site, they had to do a lot of forced labour. One person from each family had to do forced labour permanently. The people had to plant three acres of sweet corn for the army. People also had to make thatch sheets for roofing the army camp. The villagers did not have to do much forced labour before, but there was portering. There was an army camp in the area of their village, which had been built by the villagers. The troops changed every three months, and the village would have to provide them with their food, and even cook for them. They would send orders to the village head, demanding whatever they needed. He was taken as a porter many times, usually for one or two days at a time, but sometimes longer. He had done longer periods of portering twice. The first time was in 1993 or 1994, when he was taken for four months. Soldiers surrounded the village and arrested about ten porters, including two women (the women were kept for three days, and when they got two male replacements the women were released). The ten people were tied up and beaten. They were not informed how long they would be away. They were

then taken to an army camp at Panglong, where they spent one night. The next day they were taken to Langkho by army truck (a distance of about 80 km). They spent the night at battalion

99, then the next day went on foot to No Kong village. He had to carry a load of 4 RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) shells. They then crossed the Nam Taem river by boat, then went to Pang Hat in the MTA (Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army) area. At Pang Hat there was a battle. The porters stayed behind the soldiers, and none died. Many soldiers died, however. The battle lasted 48 hours, day and night. The porters had a little food--rice and watery fish paste. They stayed in this area for about one month. There were about 600 soldiers and 80 porters, but there were also many horses, which is why there were not many porters. During this period, seven or eight porters became sick and died without receiving treatment. Two porters also died when they tried to escape and ran across a minefield. This happened near to the Salween river. When the soldiers were marching, the porters had to go ahead of them, but not at other times. He also went as a porter for 15 days in 1997, in the Laikha-Mongkaing area. He was arrested by soldiers early in the morning when he was working in his fields. He had to carry a radio set to Lin Yok, which was one day walk. They then slept there for five nights. Then they had to continue to Wan Larng Long, about two hours' walk away, where they spent the night. He was released in Wan Larng Long. In total there were six porters and four horses for about 90 soldiers. During portering, the soldiers would steal chickens to eat from villages. If a porter could not keep up, he would be beaten. Porters who could not continue would just be left where they were at the side of the path. The porters ate two times a day; they were only given a little rice with some fish paste.

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125

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 40, male

Family situation: Eight (him, wife and six children)

Occupation: Labourer

From: Laikha town, Shan State (for twenty years,then six years ago he moved to Lashio town, Shan State)

The witness had to do a lot of forced labour before he left in early 1997. On average he only had about ten days per month to do his own work; the other 20 had to be spent on forced

labour. The first time he did forced labour was in 1976. The villagers were ordered to build an army camp, and after this the soldiers demanded standby porters. The orders were given by the army through the village head. One year ago he fled to Thailand because he found he had no time left to earn a living, because of excessive taxation and forced labour. About twice a year he had to pay 5,000 kyat to hire a replacement for portering, and also pay regular monthly porter fees (to avoid minor portering). He used to go himself, but now he is too scared that he will die during portering, so he does not dare go. He knew of many porters who had died during portering. They either died in battle (especially in Kayin and Shan States), were shot trying to escape or died of illness. Some starved to death because of insufficient food and hard work. He used to have to do portering about 12 times a year, usually for a few days at a time; the longest period he went for was one week. The treatment of porters by the soldiers was bad. Porters were beaten if they could not keep up. He personally saw two people shot dead who were unable to continue. In one case, seven years ago, his friend had a bad stomach (he thinks from lack of food), and was unable to continue. He saw the soldiers beat his friend to death in front of him. Women were sometimes taken as porters if the soldiers could not find any men. If the soldiers went into a village and there were no men, they would rape the women. Women who were taken as porters were also raped; he saw this himself on two occasions. Porters were given food that the soldiers took from villages, but sometimes they were only given a little army rations, which was worse. Sick porters were not treated, but if they were totally unable to continue they would be released. The orders for porters were given through the ward authorities in towns, but in the villages soldiers would just arrest people directly. He had also done forced labour. He had to plant sweet corn for Infantry Battalions 64 and 77, work breaking rocks and shifting soil for construction of roads from Laikha to Mongkaing and Laikha to Mong Hsu. He had also worked cleaning the army camp.

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126

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 19, female

Family situation: Five (parents, her and two sisters)

From: Ho Purk, Lashio township, Shan State (village had 50 households)

The witness arrived in Thailand at the end of 1997 with five other people (she was the only member of her family who left). She left because of excessive forced labour, which meant her

family could not survive. In one month someone from each family would have to do about one week of forced labour, but sometimes as much as 20 days. She herself had done forced labour many times since the age of 15. She usually did forced labour only for short periods (usually one day); longer forced labour assignments (three to ten days) would be done by her father. Villagers had to work at the army camp making fences, and cleaning, and also constructing roads. She herself did mainly the cleaning at the army camp. The soldiers treated her badly, often swearing at her, but never beating her. Some of her friends (male) were beaten, but she did not know why. Orders for forced labour were given by the army through the village head. If someone failed to turn up for forced labour they would be arrested and food or money would be demanded for their release. It was possible to hire another person to go in her place for forced labour, but paying money directly to soldiers would not work. Her father had to do portering. He said he had to carry things for the soldiers over mountains, and if he was slow he was beaten and kicked. When he was away portering, the family faced many problems and had to sell belongings in order to eat. This happened very often. _______________________

 

127

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 25, male

Family situation: Family of four including parents

Education: 6th Standard

Occupation: Farmer

From: Wan Mong, Mong Yai township, Shan State

The witness came to Thailand at the end of 1997 when a group of former MTA soldiers, turned into a kind of militia to fight against remaining rebels, recruited people in his village, so

he sneaked out. In Myanmar he could not make a living because of too much forced labour and taxation. He saw no improvement as long as the military regime was in power. Since the

military took over, his family had to provide forced labour at least once a week. He himself started when about 18 years old, digging trenches around a military camp. There were over 60

families in his village and about six villages in his area, and when the camp was built seven years ago, over a period of four to five months, one person from his family (as from all

the other families in the six villages) had to go three times for seven days in a row to build the camp, digging trenches, fencing, etc. He went twice, his elder brother once. The order came from the camp commander to the village head, who chose the families. Anyone failing to go was fined 700 kyat. The soldiers forced the people to work, giving them no rest. If someone stopped, a soldier would hit him and tell him he had to complete the work before going home. He was beaten once, when cutting wood for a fence. His wood was not as required and he was slapped in the face once and kicked in the back once. Once in a Palaung village, when gathering sand for a military camp, another person did not understand Burmese properly, and he saw a soldier kick that person so that he fell on the stones and was hurt. About one year ago (1996) he had to spend two Sundays, and his elder brother two Sundays and one Saturday, not far from the village/military camp, to clear the ground and plant pineapples for the military. He had to plant pineapples in rows of about 50 plants. For their own crop the villagers would plant one row a day, but for the military they had to do two in a day. Always, when working for the military, one had to be afraid all the time of being scolded or beaten. He had to be there at 7 a.m., work from 8 to 12 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Only one or two villagers who spoke Burmese were given milk by the military, he got no food or anything. He also had to work on a rubber plantation set up by the military since 1988. He had to spend only one day making a barbed wire fence around the plantation, but his father had to work there five different days. Generally, since the military seized power in 1988 Saturdays and Sundays had become a regular time for forced labour. People had to work for the military one way or another. It had become routine. Even if there was nothing to do, they had to fetch water, clear the ground, rake leaves, wait. His family did not have to go every weekend; he did not remember how often. Witness also did portering once, in 1995, for 15 days. The villagers had to take turns, some had to provide bullock carts with drivers, some labour. Normally, the column commander would send an order to the village head, stating how many carts and porters were required, and the village head would look whose turn it was. He started from his village, carrying rice, soybeans, salted fish, a heavy load, up to Mong Hsu. They were not given enough food, and at night they were tied in pairs to their carrying yokes by one hand. If someone looked clever, both hands were tied to two different yokes. Other members of his family had done portering service countless times, as porters or driving a cart, a long time before he went in 1995. When the military went on an operation, they usually stayed in an area for six months and during that time, each village on average had to supply porters four times a month, for a period ranging from 15 days to one or two months. His village of 60 families had to supply each time about six persons, plus sometimes three carts. He went only in 1995 because before this he was at school in town. His brother, who suffered from a stomach disease, had terrible pains when portering and not getting regular meals, so the soldiers had to release him at a village and send him back. When he was still very young his father had to work as a porter for nearly two months. This was the longest anyone from his family had to be a porter. If there was no one in the family who could go, they had to pay porter fees. It happened to his family who paid 700 kyat to Government troops. There were two kinds of soldiers. The kindhearted told the porters to move fast and, if they complied, did nothing to them. Others kicked them and told them to move fast, whatever they did. It had not happened to the witness himself; but when he did portering in 1995, a fellow villager, Ai Thawn, was carrying mortar shells too heavy for him. He tried to rest by putting down the load and a soldier coming behind kicked him, so he fell down and injured his knees. On patrol, soldiers beat a villager for interrogation, killed and ate animals from a village after the inhabitants had run away. He also had to do road work in 1995, too often to remember. The first time they had to repair a branch dirt road leading to a military camp, setting out from a point remote from their village, where they had to bring their own food and then work for five days staying on the site. It took two months. He went twice, once for five days and once for three.

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128

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 18, female

Family situation: Married (wife of witness 121) with one child

Occupation: Farmer

From: Wan Yong, Panglong village-tract, Loilem township, Shan State (village relocated to Panglong at the end of 1997)

Witness left Myanmar in January 1998. For her and her fellow villagers forced labour started only after relocation to Panglong, about two years ago in the dry season. The order to relocate was given by soldiers from battalion 513 to the village head, giving them three days to move to Panglong and prohibiting them to go back. They said that if the villagers did not move, they would burn the village, round up all the villagers and beat them to death. They were not allowed to take with them livestock, paddy, building materials. The livestock was shot for the soldiers to eat. They had to walk to the relocation site. The villagers were too afraid to take carts. At the new place, they collected some wood and built little tents and huts. The soldiers did nothing during relocation. Since then, it has become very difficult to get enough food to make a living; they are not allowed to go and work. At the military compound, the villagers had to clear the ground, supply bamboo and thatches. She herself had to prepare the ground for planting chillies and grow them, and cut bamboo, once or twice a month for one or two days. This was all the forced labour she did. Her two elder brothers had to go more often, three to four times a month, out of which two to three times, two days in a row (over a two year period). She had to go only when they were not available, as the soldiers mostly asked for men. Also, the road to the military camp was regularly washed out by rain and they asked for people to repair it. Her elder brother had to go many times, also fetching sand to pile up for the road even when it was not being repaired. At least four times a month a family member was away doing forced labour.

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129

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 35, male

Family situation: One younger brother and one younger sister

Education: No formal education

Occupation: Farmer

From: Mong Maw, Namtu township, Shan State (he fled to a village in Laikha township when his village was forcibly relocated nine years ago)

The witness left Myanmar early in February 1998. Nine years ago his native village of 85 families was forced to move to Pang Hai village-tract in Namtu township, where there is a

silver mine. At that time, he himself went in four days to Laikha township in central Shan State, because he did not want to go to Pang Hai. The soldiers told the village head (of Mong

Maw) that the village had to move within three days. The villagers were reluctant, so the soldiers came back and, seeing that the majority of the villagers were still there, burned the village. His younger brother broke his knee when running out of the burning house and falling. He got no treatment from the soldiers. Another person broke his arm. The soldiers shot and ate the livestock as if it belonged to them. If they saw people around the village they beat them or even shot them. When the village was burnt, people lost all their things. In Laikha township, witness went to a small remote village of only 13 houses, where there were no SLORC soldiers and hence, he never did any forced labour there. But over one year ago in the cold season (end of 1996), that village was forced to move by the Burmese soldiers, who hated the Shan opposition soldiers who were around at that time. They gave the villagers three days to move to Laikha and shot one villager dead after he went back to the village in spite of

their prohibition. They were relocated to the outskirts of Laikha, from where he fled here two or three days ago because the situation was quite chaotic. Forced Labour in Mong Maw. He

had to stand guard all the time, taking turns, about three times a month for one night. He also had to cut bamboo and wood, dig trenches and build fences and houses, all for a military camp. He had to go almost every day for three months, until the camp was finished. He was the only one in his family who went. He also had to do forced labour building bridges, repairing roads. His family could only send him, because his brother and sister were too young. He had to go 15 days at a time about 15 times. The soldiers told him to finish a marked stretch in a given time and, if he could not, they beat him. He was beaten with a cane as long as his arm, very painfully, on three occasions. Other people doing forced labour were also beaten by the soldiers because they were slow at work, some because they were opium addicts. Railway construction in Laikha. He did forced labour working on the new Taunggyi to Namhsam railway line. He had to work there 15 days straight, sleeping where he worked, with hundreds of others. They had to bring their own food. SLORC soldiers told the villagers how to do the work. They did not beat them, but warned that, if they ran away, they would be shot. Also, for electricity lines from Panglong to Laikha, he had to work three times one day. There were hundreds of people at the same time, but not from all the villages at the same time.

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130

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 38, male

Family situation: Married with two daughters and two sons

Occupation: Farmer

From: Pang Long, Wan Hat village-tract, Langkho

township, Shan State (village had 70 families)

The witness left Myanmar six years ago because he did not want to be forced to work for the army any more. He had been forced to work as a porter and on the construction of a road and a military camp. In the three cases, it was the village head who transmitted the order from the military. He was not paid. He was not subjected to ill treatment, although the military often shouted at the workers. With regard to forced labour, he was recruited as a porter on just one occasion at the age of 16 (1976). The assignment lasted 36 to 37 days. He had to be a porter in the region of Wan Hat, Mai-hsa-Se and Mawkmai. There were over 100 porters for 600 to 700 soldiers. Only men were recruited as porters, and they were aged between 16 and 50. They could eat twice a day. It was impossible to refuse to do portering. He had seen people arrested because they refused to work. Their punishment was to work as porters for a longer period. It was possible to pay a substitute, although he had not done so: 1,500 kyat a time. Bribery was impossible. He had seen fighting. Some porters had lost their sight or limbs by stepping on anti-personnel mines. No medical treatment was given. He did not know what army they had been fighting. He had also, on one occasion, been involved in building roads for the army between Salong and Wan Hat. It was an earth road. He was 20 years old (1980) and the assignment lasted 17 days. He had to carry rock from the mountain to the road. Then he had to break it. A civilian supervised the work. The work was generally done in rotation: one village had to work for a given number of days, and was then replaced by another. About 70 men worked at the same time as him, aged between 18 and 60. The soldiers gave general orders but did not stay on site. He had to bring his own tools. The day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. He could eat twice a day. He had to sleep by the road. He had not been subjected to ill treatment. He once worked for a day on the construction of a military camp at Wan Hat, one hour's walk from his village. He was 21 (1981). Sixty men worked at the same time as him, aged from 15 to 60. He had to cut wood. The day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. There was no food, only a little water.

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131

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 29, male

Family situation: Married with one daughter

Occupation: Farmer, woodcutter

From: Hokun, Wan Hat village-tract, Langkho

township, Shan State (village had 45 families)

The witness left Myanmar at the end of 1997 because he did not want to be forced to work for the army any more. He had worked as a porter and on road and railway construction. When he was away, there was no one to look after his farm. In all cases, it was the village head who transmitted the order from the military. He was not paid. He was a porter on five occasions,

the first time when he was 20 (1989) and the last when he was 27 (1996). The first assignment lasted five days and the others lasted a day and a night. He had to carry food and munitions. Five people from his village accompanied him on the first assignment. There were also a considerable number of porters from other villages for the 36 soldiers. The other times, there were about 15 porters for 40 to 50 soldiers. The day began at 7 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. He mainly did portering on the plains near the river Salween, from Wan Hat and Mai-hsa-se. He slept in the military camps and had to bring his own food. He was not subjected to ill treatment, but he saw several porters who were beaten because they were not going fast enough. He also worked on the construction of the road between Wan Hat and Langkho for two months just before his departure. New arrivals had told him that the road was not finished. Forty people from his village had been working at the same time as him, including men, women, children (12 to 15 years) and older people (70 years). The day began at 8 a.m.

and ended at 4 p.m. He had to carry rocks. The work was supervised by a civilian. The military only came to give general orders. He had to bring his own food. It was possible

to pay not to go by paying 200 kyat a day. He had paid three times because he had to work on his farm. He had not been subjected to ill treatment. He once worked on the construction of the railway line between Mongnai and Mawkmai, five to six months before his departure. He had to clear the ground and cut wood. Twenty nine men had been working at the same time as

him, aged from 17 to 60. He worked for 15 days, then escaped, taking refuge in Kayah State where he stayed for five days before returning to his village. During the 15 days that he worked, he had to bring his own food. He worked without a break. The soldiers shouted at the workers. It was possible to pay the village head not to have to work: 2,000 kyat a time

(20 days). It was also possible to pay a substitute: 2,500 kyat a time (20 days). He had hired a substitute on two occasions since he had to look after his farm.

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132

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 30, male

Family situation: Married with two sons

Occupation: Farmer

From: Songkhe, Langkho township, Shan State (village had 130 families)

 

The witness left Myanmar a year ago because he could no longer meet the needs of his family. The military came regularly to appropriate food or other goods. They did not always pay, and

when they did, it was always a derisory sum. He had to work for the army as a porter. He was also forced to work on road construction. When he was away, his younger brother and his

mother looked after the farm. He was a porter 70 or 80 times for the army, the first time aged 14 (1983) and the last aged 29 (1997). He was informed of his assignment by the village

head, who transmitted the order from the military, or by the military themselves, who came straight to his home to find him (that had happened 14 times). The longest assignment lasted 94 days in 1995. On that occasion, there were about 72 porters for 200 soldiers. In the end, 52 porters came back (three killed, including one beaten to death and the rest escaped). The other assignments lasted at least five days. He mainly had to carry rice, cooking utensils, water, cook for the soldiers and dig trenches. On the first assignment, some porters escaped. He then also had to carry their loads. The day normally began at 7 a.m. and ended at 5.30 p.m. He was only allowed a short rest of three to five minutes. He was fed intermittently and the ration was always inadequate. He was not paid. He had to sleep in village houses where the porters were locked up to prevent them escaping. He also slept in the forest. On seven occasions, he was caught up in fighting with drug smugglers. Generally porters were kept away from the fighting. However, they were sometimes used as shields. He had been beaten at least seven times. At the age of 28 (1996), he had been beaten with a spiked stick because he was unable to carry water to the top of a mountain. He did not receive any medical treatment. He had often seen porters subjected to ill treatment. If porters tried to escape, they were often beaten. During his three month assignment, he went from Wan Hat to Hopong via Mai-hsa-se, Na-kenglong, Loikaw, Inle Lake. He was released at Hopong. He then returned to Langkho by car, where he was arrested again and sent to Mongpan to work there for about another two months. He had to build a military camp, carry material from Mongpan to Bang Dowee, where he had to cut wood. He was then sent to a place near the river Salween to build a camp. He stayed there nine days, and then carried munitions to Mongpan. The march lasted about two days. From Mongpan, he was sent to Langkho to do excavation work for about two days. The 52 porters who had remained after the three-month assignment did the same work as him. He was subsequently forced to work twice for the army and then fled to Thailand. He also worked on the construction of the road from Wan Hat to Salong, a year ago, on three occasions. Each assignment lasted ten days. One hundred and fifty people were working at the same time as him, including men and women, aged from 15 to 60. The village head told him about the work to be done. The work site was about a day's march from the village. He had to sleep on site, near the road. He had to bring his own food. He was not paid. It was possible to pay a substitute: 2,500 kyat a time (ten days). It was possible to pay bribes of the same amount. He saw people being subjected to ill treatment because they did not work fast enough.

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133

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 33, male

Family situation: Seven (him, parents, four siblings)

From: Hang Loi, Wan Hat village-tract, Langkho township, Shan State (village had 20 households)

The witness arrived two years ago. He fled to Thailand because could not take portering and forced labour. An average of five days per month per family were spent on forced labour. The 20 houses in his village were split into five groups of four each and the forced labour was rotated among them. One person from each house would go for five days. This was in addition to portering. With regard to the various forms of forced labour he had to perform, work on building Wan Hat to Salong road was one project. The road was a seven hours' walking distance from the village. He had to stay overnight at the project with no shelter, sleeping under trees by the side of road. At any one time more than 300 people were working on the road. After two months of this rotation he also was taken for portering, but escaped and returned to his village. Normal procedure was for soldiers to inform the village how many people were needed. If a person was selected and did not go soldiers would come to arrest them. On his first day of portering he carried rice for the soldiers. Second day he carried ammunition. The third day he stayed at an army base and used the chance to escape. More

than 100 porters were used for about 200 soldiers. Most of the porters came from other villages. Many fled at the same time as him. Since the soldiers did not know where the porters came from they couldn't track them down when they went home. This was in 1996. He stayed three more months in the village. During that time, when called as a porter instead of going he

paid money and when he could not pay anymore he fled. Paid 1,500 to 2,000 kyat each time. When doing portering he did not have to do forced labour and vice versa. Portering could be for a period of one to two months. Most people fled rather than complete the assignment. People who fled would be shot at. He saw two killed by the soldiers this way. His father did

the portering for his family before he was married. When soldiers came to get porters in the village they behaved very badly. People would run away, so they had to capture and arrest people to get porters. If a person could not keep up while portering they would be beaten. He never saw women during portering but they did do forced labour. In general they were not abused. Children 14 to 15 and upwards were taken for portering and forced labour. They gave nothing to the porters or forced labourers. If a porter was sick or injured he would be shot or left at the side of the road, usually shot. As porters, they were given only a small amount of rice, sometimes with jungle leaves, no curry. Porters were fed like dogs, with the food placed on bamboo sheet for everyone. For forced labour he had to bring own food.

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134

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 24, male

Family situation: Seven (parents, him, four siblings)

From: Khan Tu, Nam Lot village-tract, Mawkmai

township, Shan State (village had 170 households)

The witness left Myanmar mid-1997. There were lots of one or two-day forced labour projects, and one major one working on the Namhsam to Mongnai railroad construction project. Forced labour started on the railroad project one year ago, or five months before he left.Many people were beaten during work so they became frightened of going and started to run away. After two months only the village head (his father) and five or six others were left of the 30 assigned. The soldiers told his father that since the others had fled then those remaining had to do all the work themselves, which was impossible. When the work was not done they shot his father dead. Work was done on rotation: one person per family. The work consisted in breaking rocks, clearing trees, digging ground and building embankments. Other forced labour for one or two days planting and tending crops for the military. The army gave a certain area of land for cultivation to each village and told them the amount of crop that was required to be produced. If the village did not grow enough to meet the quota then it had to buy the short fall at the market to give to the soldiers. He very often did this work himself. Soldiers kept the crop, he did not know what they did with it. If new army units came they had to build trenches and bunkers for them. Overall, forced labour took three weeks of the month for the main worker of the house, with only one week left for his own needs and income. It was easier for larger families to survive as they had more people to share the forced labour. It was hard on those just starting a new family, and for that reason the village head would give young couples a couple of months free from forced labour to get started. The orders for forced labour were sometimes given in written form. Otherwise the village head called to camp to get instructions. If an assignment was not done fast enough the workers would be beaten. If the workers tried to rest because of being tired from the hard work they would be beaten and kicked. The same ting applied if the work was not up to standard. In his village seven people were badly injured from beatings during forced labour. Six of them died. Some died on the spot, others were shot. Finally, soldiers were relocating everyone to towns, so they could not farm or earn a living. That is why so many fled.

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135

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 24, male

Family situation: Married (in Thailand) with one child, two siblings

From: Wan Ho Pai, Laikha township, Shan State

(village had 300 houses)

The witness left Myanmar mid-1995. He left because of portering. He fled after he finished his last portering assignment. His father died young, so he had to go in his place from the age of 16 on. He went 14 or 15 times, usually for ten days to one month. The longest time was during two trips of 25 and 26 days respectively. Army would usually go through the village head, but sometimes would just take people at random as needed. On the 26-day trip he had no shoes or thongs so he went slowly and was beaten a lot. For the first eight days he kept up the pace, but after that started to fall back and was beaten a lot. He carried rice, pots for cooking, and ammunition, weighing about 14 or 15 viss (about 23 kg). When he was younger he was sometimes used as a guide. Others from other villages were arrested by the soldiers for portering. Some people tried to flee during portering. If they were caught they would be brought before the whole group and beaten to death as an example to the others not to try to escape. He saw executions of porters happen four or five times. He and other porters were tied to their loads by a rope around their wrists so they would not try to escape. He saw women used as porters in his group. Sometimes they were used as guides or to carry pots. He also witnessed an incident of rape and torture of women. This happened in a village they were passing through. The soldiers could not find any men to take as porters. They accused the villagers of collaborating with rebels and raped 15 or 16 young women and girls and set six older women on fire. This happened five years ago in Wan Mon, Laikha township, one day's walk from Laikha town. Women also did forced labour, the same work as the men, but they usually insisted on having one man at least in each small work group. He also had to dig a fish pond, work on a railroad and do other forced labour projects. The railroad work was four years ago on the Namhsam-Mongnai railroad line. Everyone in their village went for 26 days at a time every few months to work on a 30-mile stretch of the line. They were collected by truck and taken to the site for 26 days. If their assigned work was not done in that time they had to stay longer. Of the 12 who went with him to work on the railroad site, six or seven were beaten because their work was not good, or because they did not finish on time, or as fast as the others. Some were injured badly from the beatings, but had to continue working anyway. Households usually did forced labour or portering, but not both, except for families that had enough men to do both at the same time. Had to pay 7,000 kyat if a member of the family could not go as assigned. ________________________

 

136

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 32, female

Family situation: Married with children

Occupation: Day labourers

From: Kung Hart, Namhsam township, Shan State

(village had about 30 households)

The witness's family came to Thailand about two years ago because life was difficult, they had not enough to eat, little time to work for themselves and too much time to work for the

authorities. Forced labour started long ago, she could not remember how long. Her parents' and husband's families had to grow vegetables, guard the roads and railroads, do portering,

build the military camp. Also, the military always asked one way or another for money and food. They had to go mostly once a week, sometimes for four to five days straight, including

building the military camp. The soldiers beat some people doing forced labour (not in her family) and if they tried to respond, they were kicked and beaten even harder. She only

knew when her husband had to go and work for the Burmese military, not what for. He went three to four times a month, mostly for one to two days, to do different kinds of forced labour, until they fled to Thailand. The order came through the village head. She herself also did forced labour when her husband was not at home/not available. She had to dig trenches for the military camp, build a railroad. She also had to go from early morning until late evening, many times for almost a year. The soldiers also came to the work site and gave instructions, people could return only after completion of their assignment. They took turns in the family. Her father and brother, who lived in separate houses, also had to go independently. This was when she was about 26/27 years old, for the railroad from Mongnai to Namhsam. Her family could not make a living anymore because, when they did not have to go and do forced labour, they had to try and find money to give to the soldiers, who always asked for one reason or another,

three or four times a month to be given at least 100 to 200 kyat at a time. The bigger families had to pay more. Her family usually had to give 200 to 300 kyat, although it was a small family and they had nothing, no land. It was very difficult because her husband earned 30 to 40 kyat a day, as a labourer: forced labour and the money exactions were equally difficult. She herself generally worked as a labourer in other people's gardens, fields and farms to earn

money, about 30 to 40 kyat a day, depending on how the labour was needed by the employer. She would work as a day labourer even if there was no money exaction.

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137

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 33, female

Family situation: Married

Occupation: Agricultural day labourers

From: Wan Yong, Laikha township, Shan State

(village had about 100 households)

The witness's family came to Thailand at the end of 1996 because the Burmese military were very oppressive, they had a very difficult life, with every household asked for porter service one day out of five. When all the men ran away, they even took the women. Women normally would be taken not for portering but for showing the way, but sometimes they took the women for one or two days until they found someone to replace them. In her father's family three people did portering in turns. Sometimes, when the military badly needed more porters,

they would take all the rest of the family. It had happened to many families in the village, including her own. When one was away on portering and had not returned, and the military wanted more they seized all they could. Her husband had to do portering ever since she married him (when she was 13, 20 years ago). In the last year before they fled, about every five days her husband had to go and wait at the military camp, even if they did not need porters. Then, if they took him for portering, he would have to go for five to six days or more,

sometimes 10 to 20 days. Often, after he returned, he had to go again. The longest time her husband was away on portering was for over one-and-a-half months, but some people had to go for much longer, some for three months, and some did not return. When porters could not walk properly, the soldiers would kick them, sometimes beat them with rifle butts, fill water in their mouths. She had seen it done on two or three occasions to two or three people, even to the village-tract head of Kung Pak. Her family members were also beaten, sometimes kicked so that they fell down, but they did not have water poured in their mouths. She saw it happen to porters from other villages when the military passed through their village, but not to people from her own family because that happened far from her village. The witness herself had not done portering, but twice she had to guide the soldiers, holding up a torch and walking in front to the next village for two or three hours, depending on the route. Her husband also had to cut bamboo or wood for the army, once a month, sometimes for two or three days. For the last seven to eight years, they had to cultivate corn (maize) every year for the military, from planting until harvesting, the full season. Villagers took turns. Her husband had to go sometimes three times in a season, mostly one day from early morning to late evening. Some people from other villages had to bring their bed and sleep there, because their village was far away. Thirty to fifty people worked together, sometimes from two to three villages. Her husband also had to do work on a road near Panglong. This started about eight years ago, and three or four times her village had to go, her husband included. They had to bring their own food and stay on the site for about a month. Her husband had to go twice. When they fled, roads were still being built here and there. About 25 or 26 times a year, they had to use three bullock carts at a time to carry water to the military camp. Because her family did not have a cart, they had to give money, sometimes 60 kyat, sometimes 180 kyat. Her husband paid, so he did not have to go, the owner of the bullock cart did the work. The soldiers even asked for rice, which the villagers had to give. They also asked for chickens and meat. For the latter, the villagers had to collect money to buy a cow or bull to give to the soldiers. When her husband was away portering, she worked as a day labourer, tending gardens or collecting natural fertilizer. If her husband had not been away, she would only have helped part-time, and mostly looked after the children.

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138

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 42, male

Family situation: Married with three sons

Occupation: Farmer

From: Wan Hat, Langkho township, Shan State

(village had 300 families)

The witness gave his testimony in the presence of witness 139. He left Myanmar in 1992. He was a porter for the first time at the age of 17, 25 years ago. The assignment lasted 33 to 34 days. The village head told him about the order from the military. He had to carry munitions and soldiers' clothing. He had to bring his own food. He was not paid. He was ill treated. He was beaten. He had even been shot at but the bullet missed. He saw other people beaten because they were not fast enough. It was possible to engage a substitute: 3,000 kyat a time (five days). Bribes were not possible. On road building and work in a military camp, he confirmed what witness 139 said (see statement of witness 139).

_______________________

 

139

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 41, male

Family situation: Married with two sons and one daughter

Occupation: Farmer

From: Wan Hat, Langkho township, Shan State

(village had 300 families)

The witness gave his testimony in the presence of witness 138.

He left Myanmar in 1992. He had been a porter five times, the first time at the age of 21 (1978) and the last time about seven years ago (1990). He was not always fed and the ration

was in any case always inadequate. He had to sleep in the forest. The soldiers slept above the porters to stop them running away. He could not say where he was a porter. It was possible to engage a substitute: 3,000 kyat each time (five days). It was impossible to bribe anyone. He had seen porters beaten to death by soldiers. He had personally been beaten because he had not been able to carry the load he had been given. He also participated in building roads between Wan Hat and Salong, Wan Hat and Mawkmai and Wan Hat and Langkho about nine years ago (1989). He worked there on two or three occasions during the year for five days at a time. The place of work was five hours march away. More than 100 men worked at the same time as him, aged between 15 and 60. He had to carry and break rock. The day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. The work was supervised by a civilian, although soldiers were present. They had to sleep at the work site. Food had to be shared by those people who had been able to bring some. He was not paid. It was possible to engage a substitute: 200 kyat a time (five days). He had no money to do that. Finally, he worked in a military camp one hour's march away. He worked there once for five or six days about seven years ago (1991). He had to dig a trench and install defensive spikes. Fifty to 60 men were working at the same time as him. The village head told him the work that was to be done. He had to bring his own food. Only water was supplied. It was possible to engage a substitute: 100 kyat a day. He could go home to sleep. He was not ill treated and did not see others ill treated at this time.

_______________________

 

140

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 70, male

Family situation: Married with four children

From: Pang Keng, Langkho township, Shan State

(village had 12 households)

The witness left Myanmar in 1992. He did portering four times over a 14 year period: twice at age 50, once at age 60 and once at age 64. Completed the work the first three times. Fled

the last time because he feared for his life if he did not flee. He was given no special treatment because of his age. The last time he was a porter for 19 days before fleeing. The

last day he received no food. Nine people fled at the same time. He was never beaten, but saw others beaten when they could not carry their loads. Two other porters were his age

(over 60), the rest were younger. There were no women. They received three rest breaks per day. They had to walk all the rest of the time. Only a handful of rice and some salt was given to them. The reason they took old people was that there were few families in the village, so there were not enough younger people to fill the quotas. The amount of portering required was very variable, because he was old he did not do as much as the others, which varied from twice a month to twice a year. If porters tried to run away they would be shot. He witnessed many beatings and kickings, but never saw anyone shot. Porters would be beaten if tired or could not work because of fatigue or age. Other work involved working for soldiers at their army camps. Seven years ago he did this work also (at age 63). Went once or twice a month for one day. It was almost a half-day's walk to the army camp, so he had to leave very early to get there and returned very late. Six years ago the village was relocated. That was part of the reason he felt the need to leave too.

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141

 

Ethnicity: Shan

Age/sex: 40, male

Family situation: Married (wife and two children)

Occupation: Farmer

From: Mark Oon Lao, Wan Hat village-tract,

Langkho township, Shan State (village had about 40 households)

The witness came to Thailand four years ago because the Burmese soldiers were so oppressive. When he wanted to go to work, even to his own fields, every time that he had to go to some other place, he had to ask for permission, a pass from the soldiers; without a pass he could go nowhere. Whenever the soldiers wanted people to do something which the people wanted to avoid, they kicked and beat them. He had seen this happen to people from his village. Besides his family, six or seven other families from his village have come to Thailand for the same reasons. If they did not have to do forced labour for the soldiers, they would not have come. He had to do portering once, at age 13, for 26 days. He was told to do so by the village head, who had been asked by Burmese soldiers. Many people had to go at the same time. His younger brother also had to do it once, for 20 days. He saw soldiers beat a porter into unconsciousness, and the porter then had to be carried back. This was because they did not give him anything to eat, so he was very weak and could not carry anymore. He himself was beaten, but was able to explain that he could not go further, and was released. "We will find someone else". While saying that, the soldiers also scolded and beat him before letting him go. Starting at about the age of 22 until he came to Thailand, witness also had to do road building work, on the main road from Mark Oon Lao to Salong, three or four days at a time, and often had to go back after five days. They had to stay at the work site, received no food, nor a place to sleep (had to sleep in the forest). He was not tied up at night, there were no soldiers to look after the work, so he could have run away if he wanted, but they had brought their rations and bullock carts with them. The soldiers had marked a certain stretch of the road for each group to make, and they had to work until their section was finished, then they could go home. On the days he went there, about 20 people and ten bullock carts (to carry rocks and stones) from his village were there, as well as people from other villages: all together 200 to 300 people. He did not see anybody hurt or injured by the soldiers while doing this work. He never got paid for this work. When he was out at road work, he would leave a pyi (2.5 kg) of rice for his wife and children to survive on until he came back. In addition, people from his village had to work at military camps, one old, deserted, then re-occupied, plus a new camp they had to build before he left. Four villages around had to work for the camps, one person from each family (his village had about 40 houses, the other three villages had about seven, ten and 20 houses respectively). People who did not work properly were scolded by the soldiers. They had to dig trenches, make fences. He also worked there, making fences, about five times for two to three days each time, depending on how long it took him to finish the work assignment. They also had to stand guard, once in five days. That started about two years before he left and still continues. With regard to taxation, he also had to give money and rice once a month to the soldiers. The poorest families had to give at least one pyi of rice and 50 kyat, the richer, three pyi of rice and up to 500 kyat per month.

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142

 

Ethnicity: Muslim

Age/sex: 40, female

Family situation: Widow with seven children (husband died ten years ago during portering): five boys (eldest is 27) and two girls

Occupation: Day labourer

From: Yebu, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

(village had around 100 families)

The witness testified in the presence of witness 143. She left Myanmar in May 1997 with her family. There was a military camp nearby. The whole village was burned down some twenty years ago by the KNU army because there was a military camp there. The villagers lost everything. Some went back. Others settled in the neighbouring fields. There was still a military camp nearby. Women had to go and work for the army when their husbands were away or deceased. She personally worked for a military camp. She had to get information on the movements of the KNU army. She had to do this work once a week for 20 years every month. This work had to be done on a rota basis between 20 villages. She worked with one other person. It was mainly women who had to do this work. The day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. If there was no news to pass on, she had to stay at the camp and work there: fetching water, putting up fencing, digging trenches. On one occasion, she had to carry food for the military (one day). She was personally beaten on one occasion with a bamboo stick for arriving late for work. She had also been ill-treated and kept in wooden stocks, which immobilized her feet, for a whole day (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) for arriving late. She confirmed the point explained by witness 143 that, if the work was not done, she had to pay (300 kyat each time) or be put in the stocks. She saw several people who had been ill-treated. As a punishment for arriving late, they were made to stay in the sun for long hours. She also worked on the building of the road between Dawlan (Natkyun village) and Hpa-an. Witness 143 worked on the same road, but on a different section. That road was used by the army, and civilians dared not use it. It needed rebuilding after each rainy season. The work site was a day's walk away. She worked there on three occasions, each time for a week, in 1994. One hundred other people also worked at the same time on the section assigned to her, including men and women aged from 17 and to over 60. There were more women than men, since the latter had to provide for their family's needs by doing paid work. Each family had to provide one worker, as usual. A civilian supervised the work in accordance with orders given by a member of the military. She had to move earth. The day began at 7 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. with a one hour break at noon. She had to bring her own food and sleep at the work

site, near the road. She was not paid. It was possible to engage a substitute: the cost of doing this varied depending on the distance and the work to be done (it was approximately 100 kyat). She confirmed the description given by witness 143 of the treatment received: she said she had been beaten and had seen several other people suffering the same treatment for not working fast enough. Her husband had acted as a porter. _________________________

 

 

 

 

143

 

Ethnicity: Muslim

Age/sex: 48, female

Family situation: Widow with eight children: four sons and four daughters

Occupation: Day labourer

From: Yebu, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

(village had around 100 families)

The witness testified in the presence of witness 142. She left Myanmar in October 1997. She did the same work as witness 142 for the military camp. See the statement by witness 142 in

this regard. She added that if the work was not done, she had to pay or be put in the stocks. She had to pay on numerous occasions: 300 kyat each time. She was also beaten on more

than ten occasions for being late as a result of trying to provide for the needs of her family. She also worked on the building of the road between Dawlan (Natkyun village) and

Hpa-an. Witness 142 worked on the same road, but on a different section. She worked there more than five times in 1994. Each assignment lasted one week, except for one which went on for 15 days. She had been beaten several times for not working fast enough. She confirmed the description of the work and the site given by witness 142.

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144

Ethnicity: Muslim

Age/sex: 12, male

Family situation: Nine (him, parents, six siblings)

Education: None

From: Sako, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

The witness was forced to work from the age of seven/eight on road-building and for a military camp. He left Myanmar in early January 1998 with one of his aunts. With regard to

forced labour, he had to carry earth for a road from Paung to Yebu. The road was not far from his village. He had to work there on four or five occasions when his parents could not go, as they were trying to provide for their family. Each assignment lasted a day and he could go back home to sleep. He had to bring his own food. He had been beaten with a rifle for

not working quickly enough. More than half of the people working on the road at the same time as him were children of his age (he could not give a total number). He also worked for a military camp from the age of seven or eight. He had worked there for one day on more than five occasions, cutting wood or putting up fences. There were children of his own age working at the same time, but the majority were adults. He also worked for this same military camp more than ten times cutting the grass. He was hit with a stick and punched for showing signs of tiredness. He had to work at the military camp when his parents were away providing for their family.

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145

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 23, male

Family situation: Married with two children

Occupation: Farmer

From: Paw Baw Ko (Nabu area), Kawkareik township,Kayin State (village had about 100 households; two military camps nearby)

The witness gave his testimony in the presence of witnesses 146, 147 and 148. He left Myanmar in early February 1998. He worked as a porter, on road-building and for a military camp. He also had to grow food for the military. He left Myanmar because he no longer had the time to attend to his own work. Three days a week had to be reserved for the different jobs required of him by the military. Moreover, the military had taken all his possessions without any form of compensation. The assignments for all the forms of forced labour were

communicated to him through the village head. He was not paid and received no compensation. He could, however, pay a substitute. The sum involved varied depending on the work to be done and the time needed. He first acted as a porter at the age of 18 (1992) and had done this more times than he could remember since then (around twenty times). He last had to work as a porter just before he left for Thailand. The sum required to pay a replacement was 2,500 kyat for five days. He had paid a substitute on four occasions. It was also possible to pay the village head to be exempted: 400 to 500 kyat. He had paid this sum on ten occasions because he had to take care of certain members of his family who were ill. So far as food was concerned, he very often had to take his own since what the soldiers gave them was never sufficient. The assignments lasted five days on average and were carried out in Kayin State. He had to cross both flat and mountainous terrain. He had to carry ammunition. He was caught up in an engagement with the KNU on one occasion two years ago. The battle lasted one hour. The porters tried to hide. None were wounded. The last time he acted as a porter there were three men from his village with him. He was not able to give the total number of porters on that occasion. There were, however, around a hundred soldiers. He was never personally ill-treated. However, other porters were severely beaten for being too

tired or exhausted to carry the load allotted to them. He also had to work on the road from the village to the military camp on ten occasions three years ago. Each assignment lasted one day. This was a road which could be used by carts and cars, and which was built in six months (November to April). The military and the villagers used it. One member per family had to work on it. The work was carried out under the supervision of the military. He had to dig earth and carry and break stones. Some one hundred persons from two villages worked at

the same time as him, including both men and women. The women worked when the men could not go. Though he had never paid a substitute, the sum for doing so was 300 kyat per day. In addition, he had worked on the building and maintenance of two military camps. The sum for paying a substitute for this was 300 kyat per day. He had paid a substitute on ten occasions. Three years ago, he worked on the building of the older of the two camps. He worked on this on four occasions, one day in every seven. As regards the more recent camp, he worked on this seven times, one day in every three, just before his departure. In both cases, ten men worked with him. He was subsequently required to perform different forms of maintenance work on the camps - including cleaning duties, cutting wood and bamboo, and putting up fences. This work had to be done every three days for the new camp. Ten persons

worked with him. The same thing had to be done for the older camp every ten days with two other persons. He had to go to the military camp five days before his departure to do cleaning work and build bunkers there. He also had to fetch logs. He was never beaten, though the soldiers did shout at the workers when they thought the work was not proceeding fast enough. Finally, since 1995, he had to grow rice for the military twice a year during the rainy season. He was not paid and received no compensation in return.

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146

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 30, male

Family situation: Married with three children

Occupation: Farmer

From: Paw Baw Ko (Nabu area), Kawkareik township, Kayin State (village had about 100 households; two military camps nearby)

The witness arrived with witnesses 145, 147 and 148. He heard witness 145's statement. He personally left Myanmar because he was no longer able to survive. He added that he had acted

as a porter on more than ten occasions. The last time was approximately two months ago (end of 1997). All the portering was done in Kayin State. The portering assignments lasted between a week and a month. He was caught up in a battle with the KNU. He was severely beaten on several occasions (he still has scars). He also worked on road construction on ten occasions, the last time being one month earlier.

_______________________

 

147

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 37, male

Family situation: Married with five children (three daughters and two sons)

Occupation: Farmer

From: Paw Baw Ko (Nabu area), Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had about 100 households; two military camps nearby)

The witness arrived together with witnesses 145, 146 and 148. He heard witness 145's statement. He added that he was wounded at the age of 21 when his friend stepped on an anti-personnel mine during portering. He worked as a porter seven times thereafter. The last occasion was one year ago. Each assignment lasted approximately five days. He was caught up twice in engagements with the KNU. He also had to do road construction one week before his departure. Ten days before leaving Myanmar, he went into the forest, accompanied by his

nephew, as they had been conscripted by the military to fetch wood. They were not paid. His nephew stepped on an anti- personnel mine and lost both his legs. He took him to the hospital.

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148

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 28, male

Family situation: Married (no children)

Occupation: Farmer

From: Paw Baw Ko (Nabu area), Kawkareik township, Kayin State (village had about 00 households; two military camps nearby)

The witness arrived together with witnesses 145, 146 and 147. He heard and agreed with witness 145's statement.

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149

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 31, female

Family situation: Married with three children

Occupation: Day labourer

From: Kopadu, Hpa-an township, Kayin State

The witness left Myanmar in mid-February 1998. She had to work just before leaving, both for a military camp and as a porter. Her husband was often away for the whole month. _________________________

 

150

 

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 24, male

From: Mayangone township, Yangon

The witness left Myanmar in 1996. He was arrested in 1988 at age 13 when involved in pro-democracy demonstrations on 8 August 1988 near the Shwedagon Pagoda. Army cars with machine guns surrounded the demonstrators and fired on them, killing and injuring several. He was put in prison without trial for one month but released because of his age when he signed agreement not to be involved in political activities. Between 1988 and 1996 he travelled extensively to various places throughout Myanmar, including Shan State, the Ayeyarwady Delta, all over. Called for forced labour wherever he was at the time. It was not done on a voluntary basis. People were ordered to work. The military ordered a certain number of labourers and indicated how much had to be paid if a person could not go. He did forced labour in Yangon and at a quarry in Patu, Taunggyi township splitting stones for surfacing roads for seven days. Had to pay 1,000 to 2,000 kyat to avoid going. People who had little money, not even enough to buy rice, had to do the work. Orders came from the area LORC down the chain of command through the local area chairman. The quarry was close to home so he did not need to stay at the work site overnight. He also, saw forced labour being done by prisoners. Forced labourers received no food or pay, but those who lived in town had no tools, so these were provided. Villagers in rural areas had to bring their own tools. All the people in Yangon, even the civil servants like his parents, had to take part in forced labour. All his brothers did work on the Ayeyarwady road. His father was a police officer and his mother worked in a Government factory. They used to get week-ends off, but days off were reduced from two to one, with that day used for forced labour. This system started in 1993/94. Also, forced conscription was going on. There were three choices available involving forced labour: do the work, pay to have someone else do the work, or pay a fine for not working (usually more than paying to have someone else do the work). The amount of forced labour depended on what was needed at the time. In the Yangon area there was the every Saturday assignment. Then there were bigger special projects. Saturday work involved cleaning at the LORC office or doing administrative work. Also, when there was a big military offensive somewhere there were roundups of people to serve as porters. During his time in Yangon area, he also saw land confiscated and road building work with forced labour on the road from Yangon to Danubyu to Pathein (Bassein). Soldiers served as guards but did not do the work. He left Yangon in 1989, but has returned pretty regularly, at least once a year since then. Last time in Yangon was 1995. He did portering once and forced labour two or three times in the various places where he happened to be visiting outside Yangon. Longest time was portering in 1991. He was called by the village LORC chairman. He was a porter for one month, including carrying rice sacks on a pole (one sack between two people). From his experience he had seen a big difference in the way forced labour works in urban and rural areas. In richer places people use their money to buy their way out, or to pay for the building work to be done using equipment and paid labour. It was the poor who bore the brunt of forced labour problems.

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151

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 41, male

Family situation: Married with four children

From: Naung Da Bwe, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

The witness had been in Thailand since early 1997 with his entire family. He fled because of forced labour and abusive treatment by the military. He did both portering and forced labour. All kinds of work were required by the military, from cutting and transporting bamboo and wood, to cultivation of crops: as many different kinds of work as you could imagine. Because of these ongoing tasks "... we had nothing to eat ourselves and were forced to leave". Each house had to send someone once or twice a week, for one to seven days. Sometimes two separate orders came at the same time, so more than one person from the household had to go, or pay someone else to go: from 200 to 500 kyat per time. Normally, someone would go,

unless they were sick and then they had to pay. Women and children were included. Orders were transmitted from the military to instruct the village head that so much wood was needed, that such and such had to be built or done. Then the village head would divide the work among the villagers. "Whenever one work assignment was finished another came. It was unending." This was the same for all the villages in the area. The authorities would not always require every household to send someone at the same time. Who went was determined by rotation. If the required number was not sent, then the army would come to the village to arrest the people. When they came they would take and kill animals and sometimes shoot people. He saw three people killed in this way on porter recruitment visits by the soldiers. They would accuse them of being rebels even if they were not. If porters could not carry the loads or keep up they would be punched, kicked and beaten. He had not seen porters killed, but had heard stories. Mostly men were used as porters, rarely women. Porters were treated much worse than other forced labourers. With forced labour, there were fewer problems since the army was just there to guard and was not on manoeuvre. For portering, the food given was very meagre, only a handful or a small bowl of rice, just enough so that the porters did not die. No food was provided during other forced labour. People brought their own food and tools. Other types of work included constructing army camps, digging trenches, cutting bamboo, building roads, working on rubber or sugar plantations. He personally did all this work except for that in the sugar plantation. The rubber plantation work was especially extensive. The army brought the seedlings and the workers did all the rest: planting, cultivation, staking the trees, harvesting. The rubber was sent to battalion headquarters for the 549, 547, 548 battalion units. These were located in the village of Nabu. He had to do forced labour for all three of these army camps on demand. They were all within two miles of the village. The military had completely controlled the area for only one year. That was when the camps were placed there and when extensive forced labour assignments started. In 1996, when he first arrived the first thing the military ordered was to clear the jungle area for the camps. Then they started ordering the road building work. He did this for one year before leaving. The road was a two-lane all-weather road with a broken rock surface. He did portering many times, usually carrying things between the camps. He also did portering before the camps were set up and before the other forced labour assignments began. He was at the front line several times. During the battles some porters were injured and some ran away. The wounded porters would be treated. During offensives, porters would be used with soldiers on "point" duty in advance of the main body of troops for scouting. Porters sometimes were sent in front of the troops to clear mines. Sometimes one or two porters a week were injured or killed this way. Portering lasted from a few days to as much as a month. It was done on a rotation basis two or three times a year. Other forced labour took place two or three times a week, for one or two days, but sometimes five days at a time if work sites were further away. Villagers had to do on average more than two weeks per month of forced labour.

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152

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 36, male

Family situation: Married with four children

Occupation: Labourer

From: Treh Wa, Bilin township, Mon State (village had 50 households)

The witness left Myanmar a year ago but returned in early 1998. He left Myanmar again in mid-February 1998. He was arrested and subjected to torture by LIB 96 one year and three months ago, just before he originally left. They accused him of being a KNU soldier. He was beaten, tortured with the flame of a kerosene lamp, and had water poured down his nostrils. There had been an army camp in the area of his village since 1988, so portering for them was frequent: several times each month for four or five years, for about three to ten days each time, at least. One time it lasted three months. It became pretty continuous. During the three-month assignment he carried rice at the front line. He was grabbed by the soldiers as he was walking along the road from his village and forced to do this work. The other times he either was arrested in a similar way or it was done by order through the village head. The three-month stint was three or four years ago. He was picked up in Thaton and sent to Bilin by truck and then had to walk to the front line in Papun district. He was given no water (porters had to find their own) and very little rice: one handful each day, with one spoon of yellow pea curry. The porters had no strength because of the strenuous work and so little food. So many were beaten and killed by the soldiers. Ten porters were beaten to death by the soldiers during the three month period. If porters were too slow they were kicked or beaten. He himself was beaten. Women were not used as porters at front line, but were used for shorter distances in village areas. He did not see any porters injured or killed in the fighting. He carried two backpacks filled with rice, one on his back and one over a shoulder. It was possible to pay 600 kyat for three days to avoid the work. No medicine was given if porters were sick. He last had to work as a porter one year ago. Other forms of forced labour included digging trenches and building fences at the army compound, only one hour's walk away. He did both forced labour and portering sequentially. There was also a nearby DKBA camp set up one year ago and they had forced labour demands in addition to the rest. For the DKBA there was work at the camp on fences, clearing brush and digging trenches as well as road building. Overall, in one month on average, there would be ten days required work at the army camp, 15 days required work at the DKBA camp, plus portering thrown in. So there were no more than five days a month left to do his own work to earn a living. He was a farmer working for others. He had to cut wood to sell in order to get more income. Even with that he could not make ends meet anymore. That is why he came here to Thailand. The level of forced labour is greater now than ever because there are two army bases to serve. Back in 1989 the village began working on the Mawlamyine (Moulmein) to Yangon road. The village was assigned to complete a 1,000 foot-long section of the road with a width of two-arm spans. The village head gave out the assignments on a rotating basis. His last forced labour project was doing fencing work at the DKBA base. Just before leaving he paid 4,000 kyat to be released from a second arrest by the army. On that occasion he had money from selling sheets of roofing thatch.

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153

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 28, male

Family situation: Married with one seven-month old daughter

Occupation: Farmer

From: Tichara, Myawady township, Kayin State

(village had more than 300 families)

The witness left Myanmar in early January 1998 because he was no longer able to provide for his family, on account of the time required for the work which had to be done for the military and the taxes which had to be paid. He had to do portering and road building. In both cases, the village head passed on the order from the military, although the military sometimes came directly to the houses or to public places to seize the porters. He was not paid and received no form of compensation for this work. He acted as a porter on one single occasion for a week in the rainy season. The other times he managed to escape. The portering had to be done in a mountainous region of the Kayin State. The porters were male, aged between 14 and 60. They were not paid. It was however possible to hire a replacement. The sum for this varied according to the number of days to be worked, but was between 500 and 1,000 kyat. It was also possible to pay the village head to be exempted. He had never paid and hence did not know the sum that had to be paid. They had to carry ammunition and march all day. There was never enough food. In the beginning each porter got one tin of rice. After a few days, three

porters had to share one. They had to sleep in the jungle, without shelter. No one could take care of his family in his absence. During this period, his wife gave birth to their daughter. He was not personally ill-treated. Friends had however been beaten with a stick for not going quickly enough and for being too tired to carry the load allotted to them. He had to carry food to the military who lived in the camp in the mountains one to three times a month over the last two years. It was about an hour's walk to the camp. He did this work with other men in rotation. The number involved could vary, but might even exceed 100. He also had to work on the road between his village and Meh Pleh. This was a road for cars. The work site was three hours' walk from his house. He had to work there several times over the last year, even though the building of the road began three years before. This road had to be repaired after each rainy season. More than 20 people from his village worked at the same time as he did. However, he could not say the total number of men or women who worked on the road. The day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. with a one-hour break at noon. He had to bring his own food, but could go home at night. It was possible to pay a substitute. He did not know the amount, as he did not have enough money to hire one. It was also possible to pay the village head so as not to have to go: the price was 100 kyat per day. Over the last year, he also had to put up fences along the road and stand guard against the KNU. To do this, he had to go along the road each morning with a plough to check whether mines or other explosives had been laid. A mine exploded last year, killing a worker and two soldiers. He also mentioned that he had to pay between 200 and 300 kyat per month since his return to his village in 1995. He did not know why these taxes were levied. To pay them, he had to sell land and take work as a

day labourer.

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154

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 44, male

Family situation: Married with four children (all came with him)

From: Minzan, Hpa-an township, Kayin State (village had 500 households)

The witness and his family had been in Thailand for the past six years. In January 1998 he went back to his village to see what the current situation was like. He stayed there for 20 days and then returned to Thailand. He found that the situation was not good. The military was in firm control of the area now. Before he left, he was a rice farmer. He had to give a percentage of his crop to the army, and another percentage to the land owner, leaving him with very little.

"It was difficult to survive on what was left." He could not afford to go on portering or forced labour assignments, so to avoid them he would sleep in the jungle. That strategy worked to avoid being arrested by the troops directly. But he could not avoid it when orders came down from the village head. He was a porter on four occasions, three times through orders, and one time through direct arrest. He ran away in each case before the assignment was completed. So they lasted only four or five days for three of the times. The fourth time was for one month and five days. Four people had already died of overwork and starvation and he was certain he too would die if he stayed. So he evaded the guards and escaped and went back home. When porters became weak and could not keep up they were beaten. Sometimes after being beaten porters could not walk at all and were left at the side of the road to die. It always

happened if porters slowed down, they were beaten. No medicine was given if they were sick. Food was in very small amounts. Porters cooked their own food. Soldiers did their own too. It came to about half a condensed milk tin of rice per day plus some yellow pea curry. The rice was rough and broken. Also, sometimes there was some poor quality fish paste. There were 500 houses in the village and portering was done by rotation, whenever the soldiers came through. They called five, ten or 15 people about once or twice a month. If there was no man in the house that household had to pay 600 kyat. Now it was up to 2,000 kyat as more people refused to go and it was harder to find substitutes. Only men did portering. Women were used only for short distance work. There was a lot of portering then. Now the villagers just had to pay porter fees once a month. There was little actual portering work. There was, however, lots of other forced labour, so the total amount of time spent on forced work was about the same. Since the portering was more oppressive he thought that, to some extent, there had been some improvement. It used to be that forced labour was mostly working at the army camp, cleaning, planting, renovating buildings, doing agricultural work for the army. Road building was now the biggest task along with army camp work. There was forced agriculture work for the LIB 202 rubber plantation. They had to do all the planting and cultivation and harvesting. The rubber produced was sent to the 22 Division. The Hpa-an to Shwegun road was the main road they were working on. It was three miles from the village. When he went back to visit in January 1998, he had to spend three of the 20 days doing forced labour on the road. Before the army would come to the village to get people, now it was all done through the village head. He gave the assignments out to each house. The village was given a certain length of the road to complete. There were no soldiers at the work site but they checked on the work. If workers did not complete the work on time, they got trouble from the soldiers. The village head had to report on who was not working properly. There were no beatings, only threats of beatings. Workers had to bring their own food and tools. No pay of course. They had to pay money themselves if they were sick and could not go. Some forced labourers died at the work site as a result of accidents. When the village head complained he was told that it was because they were not good workers that caused the problem so there was no compensation. It cost 300 kyat a day if you could not go. Old people, children, everyone had to go. If workers were old enough to carry things, around eight or nine years old, they went. The army did not care if children were sent, since the assignment had to be completed. It just took a child longer than an adult (often other villagers felt sorry for young children, and helped them to complete their assignment). A minimum of one person per household was requested. He considered that it was much harder to make a living now. Farmers were having to sell what they needed to eat just to survive. Forced labour was the root of the problem. Every day spent on forced assignments was a day lost to feed the family. Portering was currently limited. Four people were assigned at all times from the village on a rotating basis as servant porters at the camp: getting water, doing the cooking, carrying messages. Before villagers had to do guard duty too. Not now. During guard duty they were fined a certain number of chickens if they were caught sleeping. Now the army was also collecting a new tax for school construction and repairs. They levied the tax based on income: 7,000 kyat for the rich down to 1,500 kyat for the poor. But it was impossible to pay this additional tax too. The villagers had to sell their belongings, so it was impossible to stay anymore. They had no choice but to leave.

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155

 

Religion: Muslim

Age/sex: 38, female

Family situation: Married with six children

Occupation: Agricultural day labourers

From: Yebu, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State (before village had 1,000 households, now the majority have left)

The witness left Myanmar with her family in late 1997 because of the amount of forced labour for the military (including portering), sometimes up to 20 days in a month. As day labourers, if they went to do forced labour one day, they had nothing to eat the next. The soldiers treated Muslims, Karen and hill people badly, but Muslims even worse than the others, making it very difficult for Muslims to stay in the villages. They were subjected to harder forced labour and had less food, so they fled from the villages into the towns. In her village, there used to be 200 Muslim households, now only 15 or 16 were left. Normally, the soldiers ordered the required number of porters through the village head, but if the village did not send them, or not quickly enough, they fetched them themselves. At that time, if the villagers went with the soldiers immediately, it was okay, but otherwise the soldiers would chase the villagers and beat them In her family, portering was always done by men. Her husband thus had to carry ammunition and food for the army. For many years, the practice had been to be required to do portering once a month, normally for some five days, but often for a week or ten days and sometimes over a long time, for two months or more. Sometimes, for a very short distance, it could take only one day (e.g. to the nearest army camp), but then they would take two or three people from the same household, making it more difficult. Sometimes they would instruct porters to pack up food for so many days (e.g., 15 days) for the porters to eat. Strong people who could do the work were usually okay. If porters were tired, unable to do the work, they would be beaten and kicked and sometimes shot dead. Some of her friends from other villages were killed in this way. On one or two occasions, her husband was beaten on the back with a bamboo cane, opening the skin; she saw it, and it has happened a lot to other people. Working as a porter, a villager would only be fed a small amount and would be expected to do heavy work. They would beat and kick the porters and sometimes leave them on the roadside. She had seen a lot of injuries done to porters from beatings and kickings all over the body that had to be treated medically. When there was fighting, as in the Kayin State, the soldiers put the porters in front so they would die and the soldiers stayed alive. It had happened to her husband. Even at other times, when the soldiers expected an attack on the army camp, she had been used as a human shield. They called the whole village, with the infants, to be placed in front of the army camp. Villagers had died this way, even from her own village about 20 people: Muslim, Karen, hill people, some in the last few months before she left, some over the last year. With regard to camp building and servicing, three military camps were in the region, Yebu, Nabu and Painkyone, (with smaller outposts around them). They had been there for at least 20 years, but not always in the same location. If any camp moved to a new location, people had to build the new camp: men, women, children, everybody. In the case of Nabu, the people from Nabu village, about 1,000 families also had to move themselves two or three years ago to make a place for the army camp. Nobody lived there anymore. Some moved to Kawkareik and other places, or nearby into the hills. At Yebu there was a big camp, she did not remember it moving, but little outposts around it where the soldiers went on patrol had changed location. When they were building a camp, people from far away villages also had to come and do forced labour, but for the routine servicing, she only had to go to Yebu camp, not Nabu or Painkyone. For camp service, written orders were given to the village head, but if there was a problem with compliance, the soldiers would come and beat people. They did not always call up one person from each house in the whole village, sometimes, for example, if they wanted five people, it rotated among households. It was one person from the household, they did not care whether her husband was away (e.g. working far from the house as a day labourer, or serving as a porter). In his absence, and if she had no money to pay them off, they would not accept no for an answer, she had to go. Her eldest son having left long ago, her second child, a daughter, also had to do forced labour; sometimes even young children had to go. In the camp, men also had to do portering, and men and women alike fetched water, were on standby for messenger service, cooked rice for the soldiers and did any kind of work needed. When the soldiers changed (i.e., a different army unit moved into the camp) it meant more work, new things. They also had to cut and split bamboo and make things from it. Sometimes, men would be sent deep into the forest to fetch trees, cut them and deliver the logs to the soldiers. Often, there was much more of this than needed in the camp, and the soldiers had it transported elsewhere, she does not know whether it was for use elsewhere or sale. The witness also had to do all kinds of forced cultivation. The villagers had to do all the work and deliver the harvest to the soldiers for sale. They also had to provide chickens and meat asked for by the soldiers. If someone did not, the soldiers would put him in the lock-up and kill and eat his cattle. She, her husband and children had all worked on the Nabu to Painkyone road. Af ter she left, people in her family still had to do it: one person per family, even children 12 and 13 years old. She knew of ten-year-olds who had done forced labour. If nobody from a house went, they had to pay a fine, but nobody had money to pay, so a child had to go; if not, the soldiers came to the house and beat people and swore. Villagers quite far from the road also had to do the work. From her village, they would take one person per household, but not always all at the same time, maybe 50 at a time, by rotation depending on how many were needed. This road running from Nabu through the Yebu area was close enough for her to go home at night, others had to make their own arrangements, building shelters or sleeping in the open air. The treatment was different from portering, which was much worse, since porters could only rest when the soldiers rested, and the soldiers did not care whether porters were tired, hot, cold, hungry, and gave only a small amount of food. Here, the villagers could arrange themselves for eating, sleeping, and could rest, provided they did the work. They were assigned a particular stretch of road, normally without a deadline, but sometimes a given amount of work had to be finished within five days. The money/fine to be paid for not providing forced labour was about 100 kyat per day. If the work was farther away, one had to pay for three days: 300 kyat. Other times the sum may have been only 60 to 70 kyat. The amount also depended on how hard the labour was, for portering one must pay more, both because it was often longer, up to two moths, and because it was harder work, so maybe 200 to 300 kyat per day was paid for portering. If there were three villages, the soldiers would go to the first village and, if the villagers could pay, take the money. Likewise in the second. Only if they came to a village that could not pay did they take the workers. They much preferred money over workers, but if they really needed workers, they would get them. Even if people payed, someone had to do the forced labour.

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156

 

Religion: Muslim

Age/sex: 12, male

Family situation: Family of eight (mother and seven siblings)

Education: None

From: Yebu, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

The witness had done forced labour for the soldiers since he was ten years old. He left Myanmar in mid-1997. With regard to forced labour, he worked on road building. To build the road, they had to cut bamboo and trees. He had to cut the scrubs, and dig and carry mud every day in the dry season from 7 a.m. to noon, when they ate the rice they brought. Then again from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It was hard work, he was very tired. Sometimes at 11 a.m. the children would hide in the bushes. The soldiers did not see them, but other forced labourers did and asked them to come back. Among the adults, there were about five children, sometimes two to three, sometimes ten. He himself had to go, because he had no father. If his mother could not go, he had to. Also, sometimes villagers with money hired him to go instead of them, paying him 30 kyat a day. Most of the time he went for his own family. If the soldiers told them to build ten arm-spans of road, they had to finish it. The soldiers yelled at him but never hurt him. Once he saw the commander beat the village head because she could not find enough people for forced labour. He tied her with a rope and beat her with a bamboo cane on the back; other soldiers cried because they pitied her. His father died when portering in a battle, from a shell, when he was still a baby. He heard that soldiers were beating porters who could not do the work. He saw that some people had wounds on their skull and shoulders.

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157

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 48, male

Family situation: Family of nine (wife and seven children)

Occupation: Farmer

From: Bee Lay Noh, Bilin township, Mon State originally 500 families in village, now only 100 left)

The witness came to Thailand four years ago: stayed three years, then went back to Myanmar for a few months in the rainy season to pick up someone and came back in August 1996. He

went back another time and came back to Thailand once more in October 1997. Four years ago he had to cut trees and bamboo to make the road from Bilin to Papun. He had to work 15 days, then had one day's rest, and again had to work 15 days. Then, not having enough food, he could not do the work anymore and fled. Three hundred people a day, one person from each house had to build the road at the same time. The military had given the order to the village head, and the villagers had to stay quiet, although the soldiers yelled at them. He saw two women, two girls, and five men killed all in one day four years ago because they were tired and took a rest during work. The soldiers yelled at them, they talked back and the soldiers got angry and killed them. They beat them on their heads, raped the two girls and killed them, stabbing them with a knife. The road building continued when he went back in

October 1997. When he first went back to Myanmar and his village to fetch someone in the rainy season of 1996, he did no forced labour, but saw other people fencing the military camp, dig bunkers and trenches. In 1997, he, like others, had to do forced labour ten days a month, one person from each household, cutting and carrying trees, bamboo. The road was not finished, the camp was completely finished now but they still had to make bamboo spike booby-traps. Men who could not carry bamboo were killed by the SLORC/DKBA troops, women were hurt and kicked and beaten with guns. He once saw an old man who told the soldiers and DKBA that he was very tired and could not go again, so the soldiers replied that he was willing to work for the KNU but not for them, slapped his face, punched and kicked him and killed him with a knife. On a day when all the villagers were in the forest cutting bamboo, the soldiers drank alcohol and forced a woman to come to the camp. The woman said she was very tired and asked to rest on the way. The soldiers said they had no time, hit and beat her with a bamboo cane. In the evening he went to her house but she was not at home. A monk in the monastery said she was killed by a SLORC soldier. Another day, he saw the soldiers beat a woman twice with a gun on the head and she died. She and other villagers had to split bamboo and she wanted to take a rest, sit down. So a DKBA officer said the one who wants to take a rest must die and the soldiers beat the woman's head while she was sitting and the second blow killed her. In September 1997, the soldiers burnt down several small villages in Bilin township and forced the villagers to relocate to different places. His village, Be Lay Noh, was a big village with a big army camp, so small villages around Be Lay Noh were relocated to that place. Later, the camp commander ordered villagers to go back to their villages and they had to build new houses, since the old ones had been burnt down by soldiers. The villagers also had to cut bamboo poles, build houses for DKBA and SLORC families and build fences around them. He fled with his family, and 60 families from his village and many from other Karen villages, altogether 300 families were staying in the same refugee camp, because they did not have enough food. One year ago, DKBA and SLORC soldiers took all their paddy, they had to go and get some once a day, begging for their own paddy; the soldiers gave them only once a day three small tins for the family. They tried to go further away from the village to sow secretly some paddy in the mountains, where the soldiers would not find it, but the pigs came and ate it all.

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158

 

Ethnicity/religion: Karen, Christian

Age/sex: 55, male

Family situation: Eleven (him, wife and nine children)

Occupation: Former village-tract head

From: Bee T'Ka, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

The witness came to Thailand in 1996. He went back to his village in January 1998 and returned to Thailand in February. Out of 300 families in the village, only 50 Buddhist ones were left now; all the Christian ones had left. Four years ago, SLORC and DKBA troops started driving villagers away, some of whom then came back after a few months. This happened several times but two years ago, the soldiers would not allow them back, so some of the villagers also sold their houses and never went back. He went to Thailand after having been arrested for allegedly possessing hidden weapons. Before he became village-tract head ten years ago, he did four portering trips of between two and five days each. But his children and other people had done portering for one month in a row. Sometimes the soldiers called porters just for three days, but in the end they had to go for a month. When he went back in January 1998, villagers had to go portering every month, usually for five days. If they could not go, they had to pay 450 kyat per day. The villagers had to do road construction work, going on foot to the work site, working and sleeping there for a week until another shift came. This meant they had no time to do their own work. His children worked about three years ago on the roads in Dawlan and Natkyun, as well as the road between Ah Pou and Taun Zun, for about four days a month. The authorities ordered the village head to find forced labourers and if he could not find enough, soldiers came and captured people in the village. During forced labour he saw the soldiers only yell at the labourers, not kill them. But when soldiers came to the village, the villagers ran away, and the soldiers shot at them. The witness described several killings of villagers running away or suspected of siding with the KNU. When he was village- tract head, each family had on average to do forced labour three or four days a month. Now, people had to do forced labour every day in dry season, albeit not always the same person, nor the same family. Money exaction was now a major problem. If the KNU asked the villagers to pay 10,000 kyat per year, both the SLORC/SPDC and the DKBA asked each for the same, so most of the villagers wanted to come to Thailand (but could not). When the witness went back to his village in January, he saw that between Tichara and Tiwablaw, and between Meh Pleh and Kyokyo the SLORC/SPDC soldiers burnt down hundreds of farm houses and the rice straw in the fields. The cattle had no fodder to eat and also perished from landmines planted everywhere. One had to hire people now to show the way through the mines. __________________________

 

159

 

Ethnicity/religion: Karen, Christian

Age/sex: 48, male

Family situation: Married with five children

Occupation: Day labourer (before relocation)

From: Mye Yeh, Kyaukkyi township, Bago Division (village had 57 families; relocated four years ago to Yan Myo Aung village along with 650 families from eight villages)

The witness arrived in Thailand in early January 1998. Four years ago, following an ambush by KNU soldiers in the forest near Mye Yeh village when 14 SLORC soldiers were shot, the SLORC troops destroyed three wells and coconut, mango and lemon trees in the village and rounded up all men, women and children from the village as well as two neighbouring villages (Ter Paw and Po Thaung Su), tied them up and kept them in the sun, preparing their guns to shoot them. After a soldier convinced the commander of the villagers' innocence, they were not shot but made to walk to the relocation place, four hours away. With regard to forced labour, starting two years before relocation, the villagers had to work on road construction every day throughout dry and wet seasons. One person per family, man, woman or child, had to go and carry stones. He himself worked six days, then his wife one day, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a break to eat rice once a day but no time to rest. While he was working on the road, his wife earned money getting vegetables from the forest and selling them. When his time came to do portering while he worked on road construction, he borrowed money to pay instead of going as a porter. After relocation, he had to do road construction work only in the dry season, and only for a few days a month, because the work was shared among many villages, in rotation. When the villagers arrived at the relocation place, they had to do sentry duty every day and night beside the road. His quota was three days and nights in a row per month, in a group of three people split between three watches. Between February and November 1997, he had to cut fast growing grass/weeds once every two weeks while on sentry duty next to the relocation place. Seven times, he did carrying work for the soldiers: before relocation, five times for three days each time; and after relocation, two times, while on sentry duty. Throughout the last six years, he was called up as a porter once a month, but he paid instead of going; to be exempt from portering three days a month, he had to pay 200 kyat a day. Everybody had to do forced labour and go for portering, or pay. Some people who could not pay went portering; his wife had a small baby, and he was afraid to be killed while portering, so he paid. Khin Maung Win (from his village) died while portering in January 1997, leaving a young widow with a baby. He had not wanted to go, but was rounded up by the soldiers. One of his fellow porters came back and said that he had died with a soldier, stepping on a land mine. Also in January 1997 four people from Yan Myo Aung village were lost while portering, so the other villagers guessed they died. After relocation, at one time, one person from each family in the village had to go to the forest and cut many kinds of trees and bamboo, for one and a half months. Then villagers from two other villages, Lay Way Gyi and Ner Gu had to go and plant chillies. Later, water flooded the planted chillies and destroyed the crop, whereupon the SLORC soldiers went to the villagers who had planted the chillies and asked for 150,000 kyat from each of the two villages (300,000 kyat total). While doing portering, soldiers kicked him a few times. Once soldiers forced him to carry 20 shells, which he could not, so several soldiers kicked him on the chest so that he fell down, punched him in the face, until a sergeant-major came and ordered ten shells to be taken off his load, so he carried ten to the next village. Once he saw that a boy captured by the soldiers while looking after the cattle was kicked and bled from the mouth but he doesn't know why he was kicked. On road construction soldiers just yelled at people but did not hurt anyone. The last time he did forced labour was in November 1997, carrying shells for five days. After that he always ran away (like all the villagers) when SLORC soldiers approached the village. Since relocation, when not doing forced labour, he lived from catching fish and frogs, eating some, selling some. He came to Thailand because there was no rice left in the house and he had no chance to work for his own family.

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160

Ethnicity: Karen

Sex: Male

Family situation: Married with one daughter

Occupation: Farmer (worked on his father's land)

From: Noh Hay Hta, Papun township, Kayin State (village had about 40 families; there was a military camp about three miles away)

The witness left Myanmar in February 1997 because he was no longer able to provide for the needs of his family, on account of the work he had to do for the military. No one could take care of his harvests when he was away. Five days a month remained in which he could attend to his own work and crops. He had to do portering twice a month for ten years. The duration varied, but was never less than five days. Sometimes trips could last as long as a month, if there were military operations. All the families in his village had to provide one male person for this kind of work. His brothers had to do portering too. The order to act as a porter came from the military, but was passed on by the village head. He did not see any written order. He had to transport ammunition for mortars (three inch mortar shells), food and cooking utensils.

There were around 40 to 50 porters for 150 soldiers. He was not paid and did not receive enough food. He had been caught up in a battle with the KNU. The porters had to stay near the soldiers. He was subjected to ill-treatment: he was kicked for being too tired to keep up. He was threatened that he would be killed. He saw two porters who had died because they were no longer able to carry the load allotted to them. There were no medicines available when there was illness. He also had to do sentry duty by the road between Papun and Kamamaung. His post was some three miles from his home. He had to stand guard twice a month, each assignment lasting five days. He performed this work in 1996 and until he left in February 1997. All the villagers had to perform this work. His three brothers were also forced to do it. In fact, only the very aged, including his father, were exempted. About 400 people, including men, women and children, worked at the same time as him. He had to sleep near the road on these days. For this, he had to put up a shelter. He also had to erect a fence along this road, to serve as a defence against the Karen National Union (KNU). Moreover, the villagers had to "clear" the road each morning, which consisted of checking that explosives had not been laid. If they missed a mine and an army vehicle blew up when it hit it, the villagers had to pay a million kyat in reprisal. Each villager and each village was therefore assigned a section of road to be checked. He was not paid and had to bring his own food. On one occasion in 1997, after the rainy season, he had to repair a bridge while he was on sentry duty. The women of his village were not ill-treated by the military. He had, however, heard of women in other villages being raped, including a woman from Po Gay who was raped by five soldiers. He also had to construct barracks for the army in 1997. The assignment lasted ten days and was three hours' walking distance from his home (nine miles). Each day, 30 people worked together (the total for the month being 300). These people came from three different villages, including his own. The orders were given by the military. The equipment and materials (particularly the bamboo) necessary for building these installations were provided and transported by the workers, who received no compensation for this. It was possible to pay another person to do the work, at a rate of 150 kyat per day. It was also possible to pay bribes, though he did not personally do so. It was not possible to refuse, and he knew people who had been arrested for refusing to carry out this work. With regard to taxation, he had to give the Government five baskets of rice out of every 100 harvested. As regards sugar cane, five bundles had to be given out of every 100. All the villagers had to pay these sums. The village head had to collect the taxes. The witness was not a member of any political group. He would go back to Myanmar if conditions changed. He feared he would be executed if he returned (DKBA was in his village).

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161

 

Religion: Muslim

Age/sex: 30, female

Family situation: Married with one daughter

Education: 3rd Standard

Occupation: Itinerant trader

From: Mon Naing, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

(village had 340 families)

The witness left Myanmar in early January 1998 on account of the forced labour for the military. She personally had to do portering and sentry duty by a road. Her husband was also

requisitioned for portering and had to work on the building of the road. He had on average ten to 15 days a month to do his own work. The forced labour was done in rotation, one member per family. Generally, she shared forced labour with her husband. She had to work as a porter on several occasions. In 1997, she had been requisitioned on 12 occasions in all, including four times in the dry season. She had worked as a porter eight times before. Each time, the assignments lasted at least 15 days. During the two months preceding her departure, she was asked to go from her village to the Mawhpokay military camp, which was near the border. This was a journey of some eight days. The total length of this assignment was 15 to 17 days. On the trip there, she had to climb a mountain for five days and spend three days going back

down. One hundred and twenty soldiers took part in this trip. It was the village head who organized the work required by the military. Sometimes, the soldiers arrested the people they needed directly. One member per family had to act as a porter when required. Her husband, niece, sister and brother had also had to do portering. It was generally her husband who had

performed the portering over the last 15 years. Both men and women could be requisitioned to do portering for the military. Sometimes, there were as many as 30 to 40 women. The men were generally placed at the head of the column and the women at the rear. She had to transport mortar shells (five) and food (rice). She was not paid and did not get enough food. She was not personally ill-treated, but several of her female friends had been kicked when they could no longer carry the very heavy loads allotted to them. The soldiers took advantage of the night to touch them and threatened them with their weapons if they cried out. She had been touched on one occasion. Four men had died from exhaustion during portering. It was possible to pay to be replaced, but she had not done this since she did not have the necessary money. She did not know if it was possible to pay bribes. Any refusal could lead to arrest. She knew some people who had been arrested for this reason. She had also had to stand guard near the Mon Naing to Nyamaraw road (14 miles) during the last eight years on one occasion each month. Each assignment lasted five days. One person per family had to do this work, which was performed solely by women. She worked alongside around 130 other women. She had to sleep near the road with four other women in a shelter. She had to "clear" the road so that the military could move around it safely. She also had to keep the military informed of all the movements and all information concerning the KNU. She was not paid and had to provide her own food. When she was away performing this work, her husband also often had to be away portering for the military and working on the road. Her husband had to work on this 10 days per month, four months a year, over the last three years. This was the same road she had to stand guard over. The road was mainly used by the military for moving troops, equipment and rations. She considered that the Muslims received the same treatment as the other villagers as far as forced labour was concerned. However, some fifteen Muslims who had tried to return to their village around three months ago (they were still in her village) were said to have been arrested and transferred to a Buddhist monastery where they had been forced to worship sacred objects of Buddhism. If they refused, they were beaten by members of the DKBA. Finally, a tax on harvests had to be paid to the government. Out of every 100 baskets of rice, five had to be given to the government. Out of every 100 bundles of vegetables, seven had to go to the government. She did not think the Muslims had to pay more than the members of other groups (Buddhists or Christians) in her village.

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162

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 48, female

Education: 10th Standard

Occupation: Head of a village section

From: Bee T'Ka village, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

(village had around 200 families and was divided into eight sections; each section had 20 to 30 families)

The witness left Myanmar in early February 1998 because she had finished her period as section head and no longer wished to be in contact with the military. The soldiers knew her. If

she had stayed, the soldiers might have come to her house. She had done her work against her will, but could see no other alternative since she could have been arrested or beaten if the military found her work unsatisfactory. Villagers took on the role of section head on a rota basis. She had been section head for a month and had helped her successor for six months. Women are often appointed section heads or village heads because they are generally less badly treated by the military than men who take on the same functions. She did not dare return for fear of being arrested. At the request of the military, she had to organize the villagers' work on the building of the road between Hpa-an and Dawlan. The order received from the military was a written one. One member per family had to contribute to this work. She had to organize the work of 150 people, including 90 women, over six days. The villagers were neither paid nor fed. They were generally reluctant to work, but ended up complying and in the end seemed happy to work together. A person who refused to perform the allotted work could face sanctions administered by the military. In cases where a family could not contribute to the work, it had to pay. She then used the money collected in this way to buy food for the other villagers who were working. It was also possible to pay a substitute. She also organized

portering, which had to be done once a month. The work was performed in accordance with a written order from the military. Each time, eight to 12 villagers from her section were designated. The villagers could pay her money directly if they were unable to go, or they could engage a substitute. There were two types of portering. The first consisted of carrying materials, equipment or food from one camp to another. The second was required during military operations. Women generally did the former type, while the latter was reserved for the men. Women's portering work lasted one day on average, whereas the men's portering depended on the scale of the military operation. The porters were not paid, but were too frightened to refuse to go and do the portering demanded. In the case of an unjustified refusal, the military threatened to relocate them or burn down their village. Further to this, she had also once a year for three years had to organize the construction of two military camps which were close to her village (three miles away). The villagers also had to provide the necessary materials (mainly wood), for which they received no compensation. They were not paid. She had to organize the collection of food for the military. Twice a month, the villagers had to provide pigs, chickens and vegetables for the military, who paid less than half the market price for them (70 kyat a bundle instead of 150 kyat). Finally, at the request of the military, she had to convince the members of the KNU living in her village when she was section head to leave that organization. She did not do this of her own free will, but was expressly required by the military to do it.

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163

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 37, male

Family situation: Wife and two children

From: Klaw Ka Hti, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

The witness left Myanmar early in 1997. Villagers were required to do portering for the military, and forced labour in the form of logging operations, sentry duty, working as messengers, doing construction work in the army camp, road building and minesweeping. The work was arranged through orders to village heads with rotating assignments for one person from each household. Sometimes, however, the soldiers directly rounded up people for portering. He witnessed beatings of forced labourers, including his uncle being beaten

unconscious. He also saw porters being tied to prevent their escape. Most of his experience with forced labour came from when he was living with his wife's family just after getting married, in 1996 and 1997, before his departure to Thailand. People from all the villages in the area were forced to do logging operations. They were not paid for the work, and had to bring their own food. Logs were cut down and then transported to the sawmill at nearby Paw Po Hta. There the logs were cut into lumber (previously, logs were sent to Hlaingbwe). He did work carrying the logs after they had been cut down. Orders were issued for this work indicating how many labourers were needed. The villagers were told that if they did not go when ordered, the village would suffer One penalty was that soldiers would come to the village, search the houses, and plant false evidence of incriminating activity, such as weapons, then come back later, accuse the person of rebel activity, then ransack and steal belongings and ask for payment of fines. Soldiers kept a close watch on the workers during forced labour. There were no problems if they did what was required. But they were beaten if they complained. His uncle and cousin were beaten in this way. His uncle was beaten unconscious and left on the ground. No one could help or they would be beaten too. On one occasion he was shot at by soldiers, and a friend who was with him was wounded, when they returned to the village to get food during a time when the area was in dispute and subject to fighting between the Government and KNU forces. This shooting took place four to five years ago, when SLORC first took control of the area. Villagers who went to the Thai border were accused of being rebels when they returned, even if they only went for medical treatment. For forced labour one labourer was required from each house once or twice a month. The length of time varied depending on when the job was completed, usually about two or three days each time. Overall, orders for this labour were received by the village three or four times a month with the work done by the villagers on rotation. Villagers were also required to do portering for the military. This included carrying goods, doing sentry duty on the roads, and serving as messengers. Sentries were used for guarding the roads when convoys of military equipment came through. He did not do portering himself since he was new to the village. His

brother-in-law served as a porter many times, including two years ago. He was given only one meal in two days. He ran away after two days. Soldiers would arrest and take as many porters as they could catch, though sometimes this was done through orders to the village head too. Villagers (including women) were used to sweep the roads for mines. They used brooms and sticks. He did not see anyone hurt by mine explosions in this way himself. Forced labour also was used for road building on the road from Klaw Ka Hti to Paw Maw Hta, but not for the past two years.

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164

 

Ethnicity: Pa-o

Age/sex: 30, male

Family situation: Wife and five children

Occupation: Farm labourer

From: Ti Lone, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

(village had 1,000 households)

The witness returned to his village in mid-1997 for a six- month period after being in Thailand since 1988. He did forced labour and portering many times in the past (pre-1988) but not

on his recent return visit since he did not register with the authorities. From what he saw, there was not much forced labour taking place now, apart from portering. The soldiers did come in and take porters from time to time, so the villagers had to hide when this happened. Also, some portering was still done on a rotation basis. Before 1988 he did portering for the army, doing whatever had to be done, usually carrying rice and supplies. He went one time in 1987 for seven days. They travelled on foot for the whole day, slept and repeated the process the next day. Soldiers were very abusive and would swear at them and beat them if they had trouble carrying their load. Last year when he was back in his village, he paid once to not have to do portering. The situation was very bad during the six months he was back. He had work but still could not get sufficient food, since half of everything he earned had to be given to the military as porter fees. The village was divided into sections for regular once-a-month portering work. A certain number would be called from each section to serve military's needs. He paid to avoid this, because even though he was not personally liable (he had not registered), he had to contribute to the porter fees paid by the household he was living with.

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165

Religion: Muslim

Age/sex: 43, male

Family situation: Married with seven children

Occupation: Farm labourer

From: Nabu, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had about 300 to 400 households)

The witness arrived in Thailand in May 1997. He left because could not stand the trouble and oppression of the SLORC any longer. His village was relocated in December 1996. He performed wide variety of forced labour and portering assignments on an extensive and continuous basis, especially in 1996 after a military camp was built near the village. In August 1996, he witnessed a woman who was doing road building work being beaten to death by soldiers when she could not do the work. In the six months before relocation, 28 of 31 days per month were spent on portering and forced labour. In June 1996, he had to do road building work on the Nabu to Kyondo road. This work was done by the villagers in rotating shifts throughout the year. Also, a new camp was built in 1996 before the village was moved using forced labour. A third type of labour that was required was portering. All these types of labour were taking place one after the other on a continuous basis. The village was not given the order to relocate until all this forced labour was done. For six months they were doing the three kinds of forced labour: road building, army camp work and portering, one after the other with almost no rest or time off for their own work. There was, at most, one day's rest from time to time. People died from exhaustion and inadequate food. All adults had to go, not just one person per house: women and children as young as 13 were required to go.

They even put him and some women in stocks. Orders for this work would come through the village head. But if they had a problem filling quotas then the soldiers would come directly to the village and arrest people. With regard to roads, about 200 to 300 people at one time, from several villages, would work on the road for 15 days at a time. They could return to the village to sleep. The work of the group ended only when the designated assignment was completed. They were told what to do and by what time it had to be done. Road work involved digging earth for the embankment, clearing trees and roots, and breaking stones for surfacing. He himself went on four different assignments of 15 days each during the six months before relocation. There was six months of continuous work on this road before the relocation using people from his village. When he returned from this assignment there was portering or army camp work to do. With regard to army camp work, there were three army groups: Infantry Battalions 541, 548 and 549. They built three encampments in Nabu village. They were built

right on villagers' land that was appropriated for this purpose. The villagers had to clear the land, destroy the houses, then build the camp buildings. They cut timber and carried it to the site. It took one year to build the three encampments from the time they started the clearing of the ground. The buildings were constructed of cement and wooden posts. This was also done in rotations of 15 days. When the building was finished there were other types of work they had to do in the camp. It was an endless process of forced labour. The situation was so bad that when the relocation came it was almost a relief, because it gave the villagers a chance to escape. Women and children were also involved in the army camp work. The soldiers cursed the Muslims and beat them if they worked slowly. He also did portering three times for ten days each in 1996. He had to porter way up into the Dawna mountains in Kayin State, to very high elevations. Sometimes the soldiers would make the porters go through the night, without sleep. For portering half the time orders would go through the village head, the other half the time they would just come and round up porters by arresting them where they could find them. He was arrested three times: he ran away twice and finished the portering assignment once. The first two times he portered, he escaped. His load was of rice and ammunition, and artillery shells weighing 20 viss (33 kg). Soldiers would swear at the labourers and beat them as you would a buffalo or a cow. They would shoot at them if they tried to flee. Beatings were about the same in forced labour as for portering, but the treatment was worse in portering because food was not available. Sometimes porters would be starving and be only given rice soup. In contrast, labourers brought their own food to forced labour sites. All porters received was two meals, morning and evening: a total of one condensed milk-tin portion of rice, no salt, curry or fish paste. They picked leaves from the forest to eat with the rice and worked all day without breaks, sometimes through the night too. If you fell sick there was no treatment or medicine. Porters were left by the side of the road if they were too sick to continue. He never saw a porter shot by the soldiers, but has heard about this happening. Normally, there were no women porters taken. The youngest boy working as a porter that he saw was about 13 years old. Men of up to 70 were also taken. Sometimes women were called if the soldiers could not get men. He did not see any cases of sexual abuse of women. There were, however, other kinds of physical abuse. During army camp work villagers had to provide their own food and everything that was needed by the soldiers, including food for the soldiers. If the villagers did not give what was requested there was

trouble. If they could not provide animals they had to give money instead. The village was relocated in December 1996. When that happened he went to other Karen villages and stayed there until he could escape to Thailand. Between January and May 1997, he was in hiding in various villages, so he did not perform forced labour. The witness added that everyone was subject to forced labour, not just Muslims. But the oppression of Muslims was even worse than the treatment of Karens. In September 1997, he received the news that the Mosque in Nabu had been destroyed by soldiers now living there after relocation. At the time of relocation another site was selected for the villagers to move to. But there was no water

there and it was a bad area, so no one went. The villagers knew they could not survive there. "They had no compassion for us" he said.

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166

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 34, female

Family situation: Eight (her, husband and six children)

From: Meh The, Hpa-an township, Kayin State

The witness testified in the presence of witness 167. She had been in Thailand for two months (since early 1998). She and witness 167 arrived together. She served as village head with another woman. They received written orders for a wide variety of forced labour assignments and portering, including repeat orders that included bullet and chilli threats (twice). In addition to forced labour, the village had to provide two thirds of all food and money to the army as tax. It was thus impossible to survive in the village. The population was disappearing into towns or Thailand. People could not stand extensive forced labour and did not have enough food to survive because they had to give too much to the Government. They were allowed to keep only one third of everything, which was not enough to survive. With regard to her functions as head woman, she was chosen as village head jointly with another woman, since men dared not hold the job. They knew that they would be beaten or killed. Women had it a bit easier. So the women did the job in turns and hers came up. Two served at a time for 15 days among those who had the ability to handle the job. Two women were used because a single woman would not dare to deal with the soldiers alone. The garrison was not in the village so there was a trip to be made. The women feared the soldiers and the journey if they had to go alone. She served three times as village head, and had to arrange assignments of forced labour duties. She also had to arrange for chickens and other food that soldiers demanded. Written orders for work assignments were sent to her by messenger. Sometimes, she had to go and meet with the soldiers at the army camp. The number of workers needed was set out in the orders. Other times porters were arrested directly. Sentry duty for three days at a time was continuous and done on rotation. Work in the army camp consisted of cutting bamboo, making a fence and making bamboo cords for tying thatch. Porters were used on a regular basis of five days at a time by rotation. She did portering herself many times, usually for one or two days, and only for short distances. Her husband and the men did it for longer periods and longer distances. She did portering when not serving as village head. There were also emergency porters called to work as the soldiers moved from village to village. New

porters were picked up as the troops advanced. Women were replaced first, then children and old men who were also used for porters. Anyone who could carry a single military backpack could be used as a porter. Thirteen or fourteen year olds were the youngest she was aware of. She carried ammunition: six shells of about 25 kg total. If the orders were not followed and the required number of workers not sent, then the village was fined a certain number of bottles of alcohol or a certain number of chickens. A second order usually was sent, this time with a bullet, chilli or a piece of charcoal as a warning. The bullet means the recipient will be shot. The charcoal means a funeral or burning the village. She did not know what the chilli meant exactly but it was not good. She got this type of warning letter twice. The first time was to get more porters because the proper number had not been sent. The second time was because some of the work was not done properly. The first time the second warning order was written in red ink and had a bullet and charcoal. The second time it had a bullet, charcoal and a chilli. She did not have any penalties against her as village head. But others serving as village heads were locked up in the army camp and their legs put in stocks for one day or more. The village had to deliver a ransom of chickens or pigs to free them. On one occasion the military camp had fired a shell at the village and injured one person because they thought the KNLA was in the village. If a villager could not go as a porter they had to pay 500 kyat to the soldiers to hire a substitute. Because of extensive forced labour and payments, the villagers could not deal with life anymore. Many had left for the hills and more were expected to follow. Already, because the village was so small, the people had to do forced labour very frequently. The village needed to provide 20 people at a time, so nearly every day more people had to be sent. People were spending one day on forced labour and one day off. Usually, for each family, one person ended up doing the forced labour and the others worked the farms. But then the villagers also had to give two thirds of all food and money to the army in addition, so there was no way to make ends meet.

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167

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 18, female

Family situation: Married with one child

From: Meh The, Hpa-an township, Kayin State

The witness gave her testimony in the presence of witness 167. She witness did not do forced labour herself because she dared not go. Her husband always went. He portered and did forced labour and cut bamboo for the army camp. He did forced labour about five to eight days every month. Once it was for one whole month. Once he was kicked because he had diarrhoea or dysentery and had to go to the toilet several times. Her husband did not do road building, but some other people in the village had to. Her mother and father used to do the forced labour requirement for her family when she lived with them. Her husband went as a porter six times between the age of 16 and 18.

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168

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 48, male

Family situation: Widower with four children

Occupation: Farmer

From: Tee Pa Doh Hta, Bilin township, Mon State

(village had 217 households)

The witness came to Thailand in August/September 1997 because Burmese army actions made life insecure in his village. When soldiers met villagers in the countryside and thought they would flee from them, they tied them up and threatened to kill them. To leave the village and work on their fields they needed a pass for a specified number of days; if the soldiers suspected a villager, even if that villager had a pass to work on his fields, they could do anything to him. The witness did forced labour from 1983, when military operations started in his region, up to 1987, when it had become daily routine, taking up over half his time year round, including winter and summer, dry season and the rainy season. During the rainy season carts and cars could not pass and villagers had to carry supplies for the military. He had no time to work for his own living, because he constantly had to do work for the military here and there. The worst forced labour was portering. The load assigned was more than one could carry, and in addition, one had to carry one's own food. Normally, portering was for five days by rotation, but if a replacement did not arrive, it could go on for a month. Also, if another group of soldiers arrived, one could again be asked to go, and there remained no time to work for one's living. He did portering many times; at least twice a year it was for over a month. His longest spells were for two months 15 days when he came to Tah Kwa Law Soe (mountain peak) in 1989, and three months 20 days in the Twi Pah Wee Cho (Sleeping Dog Mountain)

operation in 1991. In that operation there were 400 to 500 porters, some of them called up through the village heads, including 30 porters from his village of 217 families, while others has been rounded up by the soldiers. He had to carry twelve 81 mm shells, each weighing 2 viss (altogether 39 kg). The last time he did portering was in August 1997 for seven days. After that, he left the village. His eldest son also had to do portering, over 20 times in the five to six years from the age of age 20 until he left, but not for as many days as himself, only seven, eight or ten days a time. Porters who could not keep up were killed by soldiers with a rock. During the 1991 Twi Pah Wee Cho operation he was too weak and could not carry any more, so they punched him once, then hit him with a rifle butt on the chest (shows scar), he was bleeding, they also hit him with a rifle butt on the side and the head (shows two scars). They nearly killed him, then sent him back to Meh Myeh (a military post). During the same operation, he saw soldiers kill two porters who were too weak to go on. One died after receiving three kicks in the stomach and more than 10 hits with a rifle butt, the other was killed with a rock. Porters were not paid but during this operation they were given food, albeit only a small amount, one cover of a soldiers' hankaw. In addition, last Summer, he and other villagers had to build an army camp, making bunkers, sheds, trenches. They also had to cut bamboo and fence the whole village and the whole camp, with two fences for the village, three for the camp. Then, for the camp, land mines and bamboo booby traps were installed between the fence girdles. They had to do this forced labour not only for their village but also for two smaller villages, bringing their own food. It was hard work, not so different from portering. He had to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; when in other villages for a few days' work, he had to stay there the corresponding number of days. He had to work on fences three times a year, not less than 20 days, sometimes a month. If he finished in one place, they needed him elsewhere and sent him there. Every household had to supply one person for this work, failing which one had to give one viss (1.6 kg) of chicken and 100 kyat per day. If it was for four days, one had to give four viss of chicken, but 1,000 kyat: the compensation was proportional to the number of days of absence only for the chicken part, it was more than proportionate for the monetary part. If one could not give chicken, one had to give 250 kyat per viss of chicken. He had to give compensation two or three times, including once when he stayed home because his youngest daughter was sick with fever; that was no excuse. Furthermore, from October to June, each household had to supply someone for 24 hours, three times a month, to watch and clear the road. For his family, the witness usually sent his younger son, from about the age of ten, to do that job. He would not let his eldest son go, because whenever the soldiers saw someone of age 15 to 16 who could carry things they would take him as a porter, even if he was on sentry duty. On that job, his son could not sleep at night and had to sweep the road for land mines twice a day, early morning and late evening. It was dangerous work. Once in 1995, a land mine went off and a person doing sentry duty lost his leg and died from bleeding without treatment. Sometimes, if the soldiers were ambushed, if someone fired at them, they punished the person standing watch, who had to give the soldiers a penalty of pork curry. If a car was damaged and soldiers were hurt, the whole village had to pay for the damage. Once, all nine villages along the road from Yoh Kla to Kyo Wine, some 940 households, had to pay 500 kyat per household for damage to a car.

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169

 

Religion: Muslim

Age/sex: 30, male

Family situation: Married with three children

Occupation: Muslim Pastor

From: Mon Naing, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

(moved to Pata village in February 1997)

The witness came to Thailand in September 1997 because he had to physically perform forced labour or pay instead amounts of money beyond what he could afford as a pastor with a monthly revenue of 1,000 kyat. After coming back from "emergency" portering in February 1997, the witness moved to another village, Pata, where the situation was not quite as bad as in Mon Naing but also bad, so after a few months he left the country with his family. More precisely, the witness was required from 1992 to 1997 to perform forced labour in various forms: portering, including "emergency" portering, "voluntary work", sentry duty. In order to avoid portering, the witness had to give "porters fees". If he found a friend who would go in his place, he could pay him 80 kyat a day. If he did not find anybody, he had to pay 200 kyat per day to the authorities. As he was a pastor, his relatives and community did the "regular portering" for him. But for "emergency" portering, he was grabbed by soldiers on 30 January 1997 and had to go until he was freed on 27 February when he came as a porter through his village and relatives paid 2,000 kyat to an officer for his release. The soldiers would just grab anybody, calling it an "emergency". He was grabbed in the compound of his mosque by sergeant major Ngwe Zan from IB 28 (Battalion Commander Thura Po Sein, Company Commander Aung Moe) who called him "teacher" and grabbed him. He had to carry a load

of over 20 viss (over 32 kg) of small bullets, rice and yellow beans from his village by the riverside across a 5,000 foot mountain. Women had to carry over 10 viss (16 kg). He was in a group of 400 to 500 porters, including 180 women from a group of four villages forced to carry supplies to front line troops. When soldiers arrested them, all the men's hands were tied, and they remained tied all the time, sleeping, carrying, going to the toilet. They were fed just one condensed milk tin full of rice for eight people per meal. He saw 16 porters beaten to death. Some were beaten to death because they could not carry goods any more and took a rest. Someone drinking water from a stream was kicked and died. Another person was dizzy, sat down and was beaten to death. One beaten to death was his friend Soba, a Muslim from Kawkareik town. He also saw others who could continue carrying their loads being beaten but they did not die. Usually the soldiers beat the people when tired, he himself was beaten just because he looked the other way. Women were placed between the soldiers, and some of them were raped, including five Muslim women from his village who told him the next day, asking in vain for help. They were asked to sleep among the soldiers. It happened almost every night to all kinds of women, including Muslim, Karen, whoever was there. In his village, everyone had to go portering, and many were beaten or injured. Three were injured, including his cousin who had his leg amputated after stepping on a land mine while portering. Two villagers had broken ribs and two others broken collar bones as porters because they were beaten when sitting to rest. He himself had problems with his back as a consequence of carrying a heavy load when on the way back in February 1997, he with another porter had to carry an injured soldier. In 1983/84, his elder brother and his brother-in-law were killed while portering. When the corpses were brought back seven days later, his brother had his throat slit and his brother-in-law three bayonet wounds in the chest. Other porters who brought back the news told him that the soldiers had killed them. In addition, three times a month, his village

(with 80 households left) had to supply ten persons to do sentry duty round the clock for five days in a row. One could find a substitute for 30 to 50 kyat a day, or pay 70 kyat per day to the authorities instead of going. He did sentry duty himself or sent his wife, even though she had a six month old baby which she took with her. Sometimes his mother went. When on sentry duty, villagers had to pull a log with a cart over the road to see whether there were any mines on the road. Finally, for "voluntary work" the daily amount to be paid to officials was 200 kyat; like for portering, if one did not go or send somebody one had to pay this money. The difference was that the duration was fixed, if it was someone's turn, they went for 15 days, while for porterage if it was someone's turn, it depended on how long they needed porters for. When it was his turn to do "voluntary work" his relatives and community replaced him, as for the regular portering.

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170

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 26, male

Family situation: Married

Education: 3rd year college

Occupation: Soldier (rank of sergeant, in the support company of an infantry battalion)

From: Insein township, Yangon Division

The witness joined the army in 1995 because he had to earn a living and had no other choice. He deserted and came to Thailand in August 1997 because, as a Karen, he could no longer see his people being forced to work and oppressed by the Government. Being in the army, he could protect his relatives, but not other people. There was partiality even in the army between Karen and Burmese. When it came to officer training, Burmese students were chosen to attend, Karen only if they paid a lot of money. While in the army, he saw people being forced to work, three or four times when he served in Lashio town, and even in Yangon, as well as in Hpa-an, Manerplaw and Kawkareik. Forms of work included portering, minesweeping, road work and bridge building. When the witness served in Lashio, his battalion (number given to the Commission) had to supply civilians to do portering and work on roads. Other battalions informed them of their manpower needs; other battalions had to catch as many people as possible, and his battalion had to supply and transport these to the troops which needed them. From Lashio he thus witnessed three times groups of 170, 80 and 90 people respectively being

sent to Kunlon and Kutkai, both on the Chinese border in northern Shan State, to carry ammunition and supplies for the soldiers. Those who could go no further were forced to build

roads. Some had to go for one week, others for one month. Some were shot while trying to escape. In Kutkai, when a landslide stopped the troops' advance to the front line, there were

bulldozers available, but the officers did not use them, because they wanted to sell the fuel on the black market, so they used the people instead to clear the road. One person fell into a stream and died. Even in Yangon he saw forced labour since he was small, and it was still going on. He saw people forced to level the groun d for a construction for themilitary, some were bitten by snakes and not given compensation. They would catch three, four truck loads of people at a time, from tea houses. He had seen it happen. One day while on leave, he went to his place, in uniform, and heard that his friend (name given to Commission) was picked up by soldiers while drinking tea in a tea house. He knew the driver, found his friend in Insein prison and was able to get him out by convincing the officers that he was his brother. People rounded up in this way had to work for three to four months and were never paid. Moreover, provision had been made in the budget of the responsible department for supplying the porters with food, but the officers supplied them with only half and kept the rest for themselves. Some of the people rounded up were used for building Than Lwin bridge in Yangon, others were taken to other cities, sometimes to the front line. When it came to his own friends having to do this kind of work, they generally managed to pay money to escape somehow. Every two to three months the authorities came to collect 300 kyat "porter fees" from each house in the less

central areas of Yangon, including Insein, Kaway Chaung, Thamine, Kyutgon, all of which are mostly Karen residential quarters. But 300 kyat would be sufficient to escape portering only when they came and asked for the money on a regular basis. When someone was rounded up for portering, the parents had to pay 4,000 to 5,000 kyat to get him out.

In Hpa-an town, just before he came to Thailand in June 1997, he saw people being rounded up in a place near a jetty. His department was asked to supply six trucks but could supply

only five. A truck would accommodate normally around 50 people, they put 80 people in a truck. From there these people were taken to places like Nabu, Wawle, Kawkareik, Thingannyinaung, and from these places they had to carry food and other supplies further as porters, for two to three months. Some people could not tell where they were, ran away, never came back to their village. In Hpa-an, he has seen soldiers beating porters (he did not see this in Lashio).

In June 1997, the witness drove porters to a military camp close to Manerplaw, the former KNU headquarters, where the porters were given iron rods and ordered to walk ahead as

minesweepers. He stayed behind while the minesweepers were in front: five people at a time over the width of the road and five behind them in between. When they saw a mine, they shouted back. He did not see anybody injured, but they found eight or nine land mines; experts took them out. He heard that in other groups, land mines killed many people. His comrades coming back in April 1997 from Hill 962, a place called Ta Lay on a hill, told him that eight porters were injured from stepping on a land mine. Those seriously injured were shot dead by soldiers, who did not want to care about medical treatment.

He saw the personal file of a soldier (name provided to the Commission) who had been demoted from lance-corporal to private, and asked him about the reasons. During an operation on the front line, a 25 to 26 year old lieutenant had villagers rounded up to the camp and asked whether they had seen any KNU soldiers. When they replied "no", the lieutenant asked an 80-year old lady in the crowd to tell him the truth, then hit her with a rifle butt on the forehead, asked her again and slapped her in the face. The lance-corporal tried to dissuade the lieutenant, who told him to mind his own business and kicked the lady, already lying on the ground, with his military boot on the chest. When the lance-corporal begged him not to do this, the lieutenant challenged him to a fight, and since the lance-corporal kept quiet he picked up the lady by the collar, she was crying, he spat on her face. The lance-corporal knew he could not stop the lieutenant anymore and hit him with a rifle butt on the temple. So the lance-corporal was demoted and put in the lock-up for three months.

At camp 1/450 [Company 1 of battalion 450] near Kawkareik, in the beginning of 1997 villagers were asked to cut down trees and toddy palms and carry the logs to a construction site, instead of levelling the ground with bulldozers. Over 100 people were used for this for two to three months. They were kept in place at night, so that they could not escape. Finally, parallel to his army duties, he, along with other soldiers, was often asked to plant trees and dig wells, allegedly for the development of military discipline. It meant they had to put in extra hours at night, almost 20 days a month. Instead of working from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. they had to go from about 6 a.m. to 3 a.m., slept for three to four hours. This was quite common, happened everywhere. For example, the officers would plant teak or whatever they wanted to get, keep two thirds of the profits for themselves and one third for buying provisions for the army. He himself received nothing.

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171

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 46, male

Family situation: Married with three children

Education: 4th Standard

Occupation: Farmer (he had a plot of land and his father-in-law, who lives in another village, secretly looks after it)

From: Meh The, Hpa-an township, Kayin State (village had some 30 households, but was destroyed recently by the military in order to prevent Karen National Union (KNU) members taking refuge there)

The witness left Myanmar in early 1998. He had to act as a porter, perform sentry duty near a road, and build a military camp. He was left on average with 15 days a month to do his own work. He had to do portering around 70 times over the last 26 years. He acted as a porter for the first time at the age of 20 (1977) and last did so two months ago. It was difficult to estimate how many times a month. The military requisitioned porters as and when they needed them. The military's orders were generally passed on by the village head, although the soldiers did sometimes arrest porters directly. The orders were given in writing, though he did not see them personally. One person per family had to do the work, on the basis of a rota between four families. It was impossible to refuse. It was however possible to engage a substitute - at a price of 500 kyat per day for substantial trips. He engaged a substitute on one occasion. He would never have dared offer the military a bribe to be exempted. The distances to travel varied: from four to five days up to one month. Portering could be required both in the rainy and the dry seasons. The assignments had to be carried out in Mon and Kayin States. He had to sleep with the soldiers. On several occasions, he had to march all night, without a moment's break. The women also had to do the same. His wife had to go to the front line on one occasion. The last time he acted as a porter, 60 other porters were with him, including both men and women. The women carried food, cooking pans and munitions. The men carried mostly munitions. He was caught up in battles against the KNU on five occasions. In these cases, the porters (male and female) had to stay with the soldier so as to provide them with ammunition. He was not paid and did not always receive a sufficient portion of food. Sometimes, he only received one meal in two days. Like the other porters, he had to be content with water to drink. When the porters, exhausted and starving, were no longer able to carry their loads, they were beaten and kicked. He had never personally been beaten, but he saw several porters being beaten. The porters were not given medical treatment or medicine when they were ill. He did not witness any ill-treatment of women, but he had heard that, in other villages, some had been maltreated or sexually abused. He also had to do sentry duty near the road between Thaton and Hpa-an (a road which also went to the military camp). That road was about three miles from his village. He could be required to do this once or twice a month. It was the village head who organized the work extorted by the military. Each assignment lasted three days. One hundred and fifty women and men worked at the same time as him, including three from his village, on the section assigned to them. The work consisted of defending the road against the KNU. To do this, he had to stay on the road day and night. He was not paid and had to bring his own food. He feared being arrested, beaten or even killed by the military if he refused to do the work. The road was under construction. Moreover, he once worked on its construction in 1996 with other villagers and soldiers for three days. His wife also worked on it on four occasions. The road was mainly intended for the military. Finally, on one single occasion he worked for a day, about a year and three months ago, on building the Pwo military camp situated one-and-a-half miles from his village. He had to erect barracks and put up bamboo and fences. The material had to be provided by the villagers, who received no compensation for this. The villagers worked in rotating shifts, as the building of the camp lasted ten days in all. 60 people from different villages worked at the same time as him. He was not paid and had to bring his own food. He was not a member of any political organization.

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172

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 50, female

Family situation: Widow with two daughters and one son

Occupation: Trader; sold snacks in the village

From: Pway Taw Roo village, Hlaingbwe township,

Kayin State (village had 20 families)

The witness left Myanmar in mid-1997 because she no longer had enough time to take care of her own work on account of the work demanded by the military. Since her husband's death, she had personally had to do portering, sentry duty by a road and construction of a military camp. She did not personally do work for the military before her husband's death. It was the

village head who organized the work. She was not paid and could not refuse to work for fear of being arrested. If the village head failed to fulfil his role, the military could requisition people directly. She personally had to do portering for the military on three occasions in the year preceding her departure. Each family had to provide one member to perform this work. She had to transport munitions for a day from her village to Painkyone. Some hundred persons worked at the same time as her, about twenty from her village, including a majority of women. She had to take her own food. Her sister looked after her children while she was away. She had personally been physically maltreated and was beaten and kicked when she was tired. She also saw many women, most of them elderly, beaten and ill-treated by the soldiers. On one occasion, she saw a woman severely beaten for having put down her basket, when tired, to go to the toilet. She did sentry duty by the road between her village and Painkyone-Hlaingbwe- Hpa-an on three occasions over a month. On the other occasions when she had been conscripted by the military for this kind of work, she had engaged a substitute, for which she had to pay 30 kyat each time. Each assignment lasted a whole day, and night. Twenty people - exclusively women - had to work at the same time on a given section of the road. Two people did sentry duty together, sharing the same shelter and covering around 150 to 200 feet of road. She also worked twice two years ago on the construction of a military camp (camp 709), which was situated three miles from her village. Each assignment lasted a day. She had to cut wood and bamboo in the forest near the camp, carry them to the site and work on the building of the camp. Fifty people, including ten women, worked with her on the first occasion and 30, including eight women, on the second. She had not been physically abused on these occasions, though the soldiers shouted at the workers. Female village heads had, however, been subjected to ill-treatment for not managing to organize the work. They were tied up and left out in the blazing sun for half a day. They were released around 2 p.m. They were also threatened with a gun, shots being fired close to their ears. Her husband had to do forced labour at least ten times in the twenty years preceding his death. He had to act as a porter on two occasions, the first assignment lasting two days, the second five days.

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173

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 40, male

Family situation: Married with two daughters

Education: 2nd Standard

Occupation: Farmer; had two plots of land near the village

From: Bee T'Ka, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State (village had 130 families)

The witness had to leave Myanmar in mid-1997 as the military suspected him of belonging to the KNU. He would like to return to his village if the situation changed. He took on the functions of section leader in April and May of 1997. The section leader was chosen by the village head, who was himself elected by the villagers. As section leader, he had to organize the work exacted by the military and by the Karen National Union (KNU). He had to do this four times for the latter organization. He had to organize the following work for the military: portering, road building, sentry duty by a road and military camp building. He risked paying a fine if he could not organize the work required. Those selected ran the risk of being arrested if they refused to do the work. He had to organize teams of porters on five occasions. He had to find the number of porters required by the military. Each family had to provide one person to perform the work. He also organized labour for the military for the construction and guarding of roads and the building of a military camp. He organized work on three occasions for the road between Hpa-an and Dawlan, each assignment lasting respectively five, two to three, and four days and requiring 117, 107 and 37 workers. As regards sentry duty, he had to find four workers on five occasions for assignments lasting three days each time. For the military camp, he had to organize work on three occasions, having to recruit 50, 35 and 70 workers respectively for assignments lasting one day. On all these occasions, he worked with the people selected. Prior to assuming his functions as section leader, he personally had to act as a porter at least twice a month. The assignments lasted between five and 15 days. The number of porters depended on the number of soldiers. Men and women were recruited. Both had to carry munitions, though the men had the heavier loads to carry. He had to go to the front line on three occasions. Men and women porters had to stay during the fighting. He had not personally witnessed sexual abuse of women, but had been told that women had been raped by soldiers. A woman who worked with him told him she had been raped by five soldiers. A complaint was lodged with the commander, who had condemned the episode and ordered that such actions should not be repeated. However, it would seem that the order was not respected. On two occasions when he was section leader he accompanied the porters. Portering was done in mountain areas. He had to act as a porter between his village and three others nearby (his village was near the mountains, and there was a military camp near his house). One hundred and ten porters worked with him, including ten from his village, for 250 soldiers. Only men did this kind of work. He had to carry ammunition for mortars. Each assignment lasted five days. The porters were regularly maltreated, being beaten and kicked as soon as they could not keep up. He was not paid. Prior to taking up his functions as section leader, he had to take part on ten occasions in the building of three military camps in 1996 and 1997: five times he worked on the camp at Nabu, twice on the Naungbo camp and three times on the camp at Taun Zun. He had to work with villagers from various villages. They had to provide the necessary materials and were not paid either for the materials provided or for the work done. He also had to take his own food. It was always possible to pay a substitute: for road building and sentry duty (500 kyat), for portering (1,000 to 1,200 kyat) and for the military camp work (100 kyat). It was not possible to give bribes to gain exemption. Finally, since his departure his wife had to work for the military. He did not know exactly how many times she had to do portering personally, but he knew that she was required to do this twice a month. He had to pay a rice tax, which was paid to government officials. Under this tax, established by the law, he had to pay four or five per cent of his harvests, depending on their quality.

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174

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 72, female

Family situation: Married with four daughters and two sons

Occupation: Her husband was a farmer and had his own land

From: Painkyone, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State (village had 200 families)

The witness lived in Myanmar but arrived in Thailand in early January 1998 to visit her daughters. She wanted to go back to Myanmar to fetch all her family to settle in Thailand. She

considered it was difficult to survive in Myanmar in view of the work exacted by the military. Moreover, the military had tortured her niece with a bayonet as they suspected her of being a member of, or helping or cooperating with, the Karen National Union (KNU). She personally had to work for the military, performing the following tasks: portering, road building and sentry duty, and building a military camp. Her husband also had to perform the same kinds of work. She estimated that she had around ten days per month left for her own work, while her husband had to devote at least 50 per cent of his time to the work exacted by the military. She had to do portering for the military at least twenty times over the last 28 years. The orders were generally given by the village head, but the military also sometimes arrested the people they needed. She had personally been directly requisitioned by the military five times. Each assignment lasted between one and four days. She was not paid and had to take her own food. She went to the front line with other women on one occasion. She last acted as a porter two months before her departure. On that occasion, the military requisitioned her directly without going through the village head. Though she pleaded advanced years, they replied that, if she did not want to do the work personally, she would have to find someone to replace her. Finding no one, she had to carry food to a mountain near the front line, in the vicinity of the Lerpu military camp. She had to walk for a whole day, covering about 15 miles. There were around 100 porters for 50 soldiers - mainly women, as the men managed to escape. She did not see women being ill-treated, in contrast with the men, who were regularly beaten and kicked violently. She heard stories of sexual abuse of women, but did not witness any, nor was she personally subjected to it. Her husband had to act as a porter for the military many more times than she. He had to act as a porter on military operations and for the military camps. He last worked as a porter in 1996 on a military operation lasting five days. Portering assignments for military operations could vary between five days and one month. Some days before her departure, her husband had to carry material for a military camp for a day. She also had to work on four occasions on the building and repair of the road running through her village (four miles long). In each case, the work lasted a day. The last time she did this was the day before she left. It was the village head who informed her of the work to be done. Five people from her village worked with her. The road, including a bridge, was used by the military and civilians. She was not paid. As many women as men took part in this road building and repair work. Her husband had worked on it more than forty times over the last twenty years, each assignment lasting one day. She had to do sentry duty beside this road at least twenty times over the last six years. Each assignment was for three nights. She shared a tent with two other people; only one had to stay awake during the period of sentry duty. She could return home during the day. She had to do sentry duty by the road three days before leaving for Thailand. Men and women had to perform this work. Her husband had also done sentry duty at least ten times a year over the last six years. She was not subjected to ill-treatment or harassment. She had heard of gang rapes carried out by soldiers. Finally, she took part in the building and repair of the Painkyone military camp, which was located in her village about two miles from her home. She was last required to do this work over a five-day period three weeks before her departure. In the evening, she could return home. She worked with 30 other people from her village. Each family had to provide one person on the basis of a pre-arranged rota. The workers had to provide the necessary materials. They were not paid either for the material provided nor for the hours of work done. It was possible to engage a substitute, though she had not done so as she did not have the money to pay for one. Her husband had also worked at this camp on many occasions. She also had to pay a tax on the rice harvests equivalent to four per cent of the harvest, since her lands were not particularly fertile. The taxes were paid to Government representatives, not to the military.

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175

Ethnicity/religion: Karen, Buddhist

Age/sex: 36, female

Family situation: Married with three children

Occupation: Farmer

From: Meh The, Hpa-an township, Kayin State

The witness fled to Thailand in early January 1998 with her family when their village of 36 houses was relocated. The order had come several times but the villagers had ignored it and stayed. The first order was given by the authorities to the head of the village before the harvest, in Tazaungmon month (around November), and people did not care. Then twice

they came to the village and asked the villagers to move by force. The villagers left the village, but later came back. The fourth and last time, the DKBA fired mortar shells into the village, one house was burnt; fortunately, nobody was hurt, as many were working in the fields. They were asked to go to Htee Nu, where before there had been a monastery, no village (nor a military camp), two to three hours' walk from her village. She did not know whether others moved there, because her family left, fleeing to Thailand with nothing but 2,000 kyat; even the clothes they were wearing at the time of the interview were given to them by other people. With regard to forced labour, there were so many kinds: road construction, portering, or camp building. For instance, she might have to go to work in a military camp, then, as soon as she arrived home, be called to serve as a porter. One was never sure. There were many battalions in the area, some would catch people for portering, others for other work. Some months, she did not have a single day for her own work, nor her husband for his. Both were called up for the whole month, engaged in different work, portering, road construction, building a military camp. In the rainy season there was more forced labour than in dry season (when military operations started and they were forced to move from their village). To refuse to do forced labour, she would have had to hire a substitute (which she never did). Two years ago, the witness saw the acting village head, a lady of over 60 years old (name given to the Commission), being beaten. She was asked to tell the villagers to go for messenger service and nobody listened or turned up, so Government soldiers came into the village and beat her. She suffered a cut on the head from a blow with a bamboo stick, leaving a big scar. She was tied up the whole night, then beaten. After her release, the soldiers asked for a pig. She didn't know the name or rank of the soldiers involved. The company commander was Bo Hla Phine. Some time later, the same acting village head, when asked to look for forced labourers, was too frightened to go to the camp, so they wrote to her three or four times, and also included a bullet in the letter. At last she went and was put in a pit the whole night. The next day she was released, they asked her for a cow which she could not provide, so she took a pig to the camp commander. With regard to road construction, the witness worked for the past three to four years on the road between Lay Kay and Ta Paw, which was there long ago and never used before. Now the work was finished and the road, about four metres wide, was used by military trucks and cars. She had never seen a bullock cart on the road. The order had come through the village head that one person from each family had to go, for one or two days at a time, depending on the work. They were given no food, nor money, nor tools, which had to be taken from home. They had to work till sunset and could go home for the night. Each household had to go three or four times per month. She had also done portering herself four times. Two years ago the first time, for two days. She was rounded up while sleeping at home. Early in the morning the military woke her up, gave her a basket to carry, about 13 to

14 viss (about 22 kg). The load was too heavy for her and she cried while carrying it. Her husband was not at home, he was in the fields. She had to carry the basket to a place near

Shwegun. There were many porters, mainly women. Men were beaten, when accused of leading the soldiers in the wrong direction (while portering). They were hit on the head,

suffered a lot. The same year (1996) she had to do portering four times in all, three times rounded up, once called up through the village head. The second and third time, she had

to go for three days, the last time two days. Her husband had portered only once. He was very scared of the Burmese and ran away whenever soldiers were around. When rounded up for portering, he managed to escape after four days, because he could no longer carry his load. He was not tied up, nor beaten. If someone had money, they could hire a substitute when called up by the village head. When rounded up, he had no choice but to go. In any case, no one in the village had money. When Ta Line Kayin camp (Commander: DKBA officer Bo Than Tun) was set up two years ago, two hours' walk away from her village, the military gave orders through the village head for one person from each household to contribute labour. If orders were followed, it was one person per household, if not, everybody was rounded up. They had to go there until the camp was finished, it took months, beginning at the start of the rainy season. Other villages also had to contribute labour, sometimes ten, 20, 30 people would be there. She herself had to cut and split bamboo, make fences and bamboo booby traps, cut trees, make roofing, clear bushes, help carry trees to a place from which soldiers would take the logs away. Her husband was not well, so she had to go, do everything. She was not paid, had to bring her own food, but could go home at night. Her 17-year-old son also had done forced labour, cutting trees for the military camp last year, not at the same time as herself. Sometimes people tried to run away. She saw people being beaten and ill treated. Usually two persons from the village had to go at the same time for a full day to the camp, to be on standby for messenger service; other villages, altogether over five, also had to supply messengers. Her eldest child had done messenger service (not at the same time as herself). Moreover, villagers had to perform sentry duty. The order for this came through the village head. One person had to be on the road for five days, sweeping the road, for example before and after military trucks passed. Last year she went three times for five days each, always without pay, having to bring her own food and sleeping on the site, under a bush, while soldiers guarded the villagers. The soldiers did not hurt them. She heard about sexual abuse, but was not sure. Two years ago, her mother (who lived with them) went once for the family, and her son once. In addition to providing labour, when soldiers asked for whatever they wanted in the village (a cow, a pig), the villagers had to supply it, arranging among themselves. Also, any amount of rice the soldiers asked for had to be given. Money also had to be paid. In 1977 the soldiers asked for 3,000 kyat from the whole village. _________________________

 

176

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 30, female

Family situation: Married with three children (household of seven members)

Occupation: Farmer

From: Pa Nya Plee, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

The witness came to Thailand in May 1997 with her family because she had seen and heard that people were attacked and killed by soldiers, she had to do forced labour, including

portering, even while pregnant, and they were constantly in fear. They had no time for their work, since most of the time they had to work for the military. When they came to Thailand, they had nothing at home, not even a tin of paddy, and it was the same thing with her father and mother. In November/ December 1996, while she was six months pregnant, she was rounded up and had to carry 18 to 20 viss (30 to 32 kg) of ammunition and food for the military for 28 days. She had been sleeping at home alone at night. All the other villagers had run away, but she thought that, since she was pregnant, nothing would happen to her. She was called out of the house at gun point by soldiers of LIB 10 and had to go to a place called Gat Te, a DKBA village where people returning from the Thai border were placed. She had to cross Dawna mountain ridge; it took her three days to go home. There were over 100 people portering, carrying big baskets, including two women and five men from her village. They had been told the journey would take five days, and the head of the village had been called and asked to bring food rations for five days, which they had to carry. After five days, and for the remaining weeks, they were given a little rice twice a day, sometimes spoiled rice, boiled with chopped banana stems, served in a banana leaf. The cooking was done by a porter. One mad person was carrying rice and eating rice all the time, but she did not see him being beaten. She saw an old man beaten by soldiers because he could not carry his load anymore, they tried to beat him not on the road but somewhere else; when they came back, she saw him bleeding from nose and mouth, and he had bruises on his head and back; he had to carry his load again the next day in the morning. She saw many people beaten as they went on, from time to time. One man, about 60 years old, carrying a heavy rucksack with ammunition, was prodded with a sharp bamboo spike while walking, and he had blisters all over. She doubted he survived. One man who could no longer carry his load was put in a bag by the soldiers and thrown from a mountain cliff. He was not in her group, but she saw it. The porters were tied in pairs day and night, men and women all mixed, ten in a group; when going to the toilet, two had to go, and soldiers followed with a gun. One 13 to 14 year old girl (name given to the Commission) from a neighbouring village, who had been taken as a porter, was taken from the group one evening and raped by a high-placed officer (name and rank given to the Commission), who threatened her that, if she told anyone, her village would be burnt. She was crying throughout the journey after she was raped; she was released at the same time as the witness. When the witness was single (over eight years ago), she had to go portering many many times, sometimes called up through the village head, sometimes rounded up by soldiers, for five, ten, 15 days; the longest period then was for 20 days. Before portering, she was quite fit and well-rounded, afterwards all skin and bones. Since she

married, two of her younger brothers did portering many times. While portering in 1996, one of her brothers was hit by a soldier with a rifle butt because he complained he could not carry his load anymore; afterwards, he suffered a long time from a chest problem. With regard to road construction, starting two years ago, and all year round, her two brothers did forced labour in rotation the road from Painkyone camp to Hlaingbwe. The order came to the head of village. One person per household had to go; if they asked for ten people, one person each from ten households would go for ten days at a time (the village had 30 households). Every month one person from each household went for ten days, working full time from morning to noon and again after lunch until sunset, unpaid and bringing their own food rations. In 1996, also, other villagers had to cut down trees and her younger brother had to carry logs from the forest to the road for transportation by truck to the cities. The order had come through the village head, and a lot of people from her own and other villages went and had to stay there for ten days without pay and living on the food rations they had to bring themselves. Since she married some eight years ago she had to do road sentry duty once every month for five days, sometimes seven days, at a time. She took turns with one brother. When on duty, she took her two children along; they both caught asthma. They had to sleep beside the road even in the rainy season. She had to sweep along the road with branches to clear mines. All along the road people had to do this. In 1996, one of her aunts was killed when sweeping along the road in the morning. A land mine exploded and both her legs were blow off; another lady lost one leg in the same mine blast. She was not present, she saw it afterwards. Soldiers also asked bullock cart drivers to pull a log up and down the road so they would be the first to be killed. While on sentry duty, she once saw a bullock cart passing on the road blown up by an exploding mine, the driver and both bullocks were killed. Until she fled the country, she or her brother had to go twice a month in a group of five people for five or seven days every morning to Painkyone military camp, two hours' walk from the village, to report whether they had seen any military activity. In 1996, her brothers had to make fences around Painkyone military camp, dig trenches, do repair work on the camp. The order came through the head. Her brothers had to go for two full months until the work was finished; they usually went and came back every day. If one did not want to go for forced labour, one could give money, either to hire a person or give it to the authorities. For portering, one had to give over 1,000 kyat either way. For other forced labour, most people went themselves, having no money. She also went herself, as she had no money. Every year, the soldiers collected from each village a quota of rice, animals, anything they asked for, plus twice a month 100 to 200 kyat from each household. In 1995, the military asked for rice. If, in their view, a farmer could produce 30 sacks of rice, they would take ten; if he actually had less, then he still had to make up the quota.

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177

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 45, female

Family situation: Widow with five children

Occupation: Farmer

From: Htihpokape, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

(village had about 40 households)

The witness left Myanmar four years ago. She went back for a whole year in 1996 and left again in February 1997. She did forced labour "quite often" in 1996, almost the same as earlier (although she was excused from several forms of forced labour imposed on other villagers). She never was paid for any labour. The villagers had to do portering; the military informed the village head of their needs, usually indicating the number of people required. If their requirements were not fulfilled, they rounded up the people themselves. In 1996, there was no rounding up, but the villagers had to go. In 1996, the villagers were also asked to do road sentry duty. She herself did road sentry at Plakyaw, three miles from her village (near the road from Hlaingbwe to Painkyone); after a day, they were asked to go to Hpagat for one night. She went only once for two days, "to keep watch over what happens". They went in pairs, there were many along the road. In the morning, she had to sweep the road with branches, for mines. She never saw a mine explode. In 1996, the villagers also were ordered through the village head to supply labour for these purposes. She herself being too old and not well enough, her household (consisting of herself and her youngest son) was excused. She had to pay 100 kyat per month to the soldiers. In 1996, people in Htihpokape were ordered through the village head to carry logs for telephone line poles. From Htihpokape, a small village (of about 40 households), five people had to go, from other villages more. She had to do it two or three times a month for one day. The logs were first carried to a river, then some were carried out again by two or three people, others, bigger ones, were pulled out of the river with a chain by many people. She herself took part in pulling out the logs. Once, four to five soldiers came into the village, told the village head one log was crooked, not good for a pole, and fined the villagers one pig. On another occasion, the villagers were asked to carry logs and bamboo from their place to Painkyone camp, about three hours' distance. Finally, the villagers also had to clear the ground for rubber and teak plantations for the military. They had to bring their own provisions. She did not go to the rubber/teak plantations herself.

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178 and 179

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 21 and 17, both male

Family situation: Both single, parents' families of seven and six respectively

Education: 4th Standard (witness 178); 9th Standard (witness 179)

From: Bee T'Ka, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

The witnesses left Myanmar in July 1997. Witness 178 came to Thailand a first time in 1992, witness 179 in 1997. In 1997 both went back to Bee T'Ka and, on the way, they were rounded

up on 9 June 1997, in Lubaw (between Bee T'Ka and the Thai border) for portering. Witness 178 specified that they were stopped by soldiers from IB 33 on the road their hands were tied and they were taken for questioning to an officer, who accused them of being KNU agents or soldiers. They denied this and were not believed. The next day they were questioned separately, then tied up more closely, both beaten up (name of officer who beat them given to the Commission) and even asked to dig a hole (as for burial). They were blindfolded with plastic bags, had water poured on their heads so they could not breathe, were tortured for many hours, sometimes losing consciousness. One witness coughed blood, had internal injuries, chest problems. From about 11 June 1997, they were used as porters. First they had to carry pots (with rice) weighing together over 40 viss (over 65 kg) on a yoke from Lubaw for two days to Thay Mo Hpa. At first, they were 11 porters (all men), later a village head of some of the others came and paid money for the release of some of the porters, seven stayed. After two days, they returned to Lubaw, and from there they were taken to Kyawko. Altogether, they did seven days of portering, over hilly ground. They were fed two meals of jackfruit mixed with rice, which they had to cook for all the porters. At night, they were surrounded by soldiers. After seven days, when they could not get enough food, they were asked to go to villages and beg for food for all the group of about 40 people (porters and soldiers). The two of them were guarded by four or five soldiers. They were asked to beg for food from house to house, then come back with the supplies. The soldiers went into the house while the porters waited outside; whatever they found, they took in the kitchen and store room, especially rice. The officers had promised them that they would be released upon reaching Kyawko village, but upon arrival, they were told witness 178 still had to go to Ser Gaw village, where one of his relations lived, and bring back different food stuffs, oil, noodles, ajinomoto (monosodium glutamate), while witness 179 stayed in Kyawko camp. After witness 178 got all the rations and went back (two hours later) to Kyawko camp, he asked to be released, but the company commander (name given to Commission) again refused, and they were asked to carry planks from a stream up to the hill. After witness 178 complained and begged the commander to release them, the commander called the person keeping their watches and personal belongings, and they were both released, went to Ser Gaw and came back to Thailand. With regard to other forms of forced labour, witness 179 said that from 1995 he studied in Hlaingbwe and did no forced labour, the 1997 portering was the first time. But he was arrested and tortured in 1996, he doesn't know why, by the military. For about nine days, he was kept under the sun, at night in a lock-up, his legs in the stocks. His family had to do forced labour over the same period (1995 to 1997), messenger service, supplying firewood and rice rations. There was no road building, no portering, but they had to pay porters' fees (money to be excused from serving), he doesn't know the amount. For messenger service, every day two villagers were asked to go three miles to a camp to help soldiers with whatever they wanted, like sending a letter, or whatever the camp commander needed. Witness 179 wished to add that in Hlaingbwe, if more than four or five students were in a group, the group would be broken up. He often heard shouts and screams from the prison, and saw prisoners wearing white robes breaking rocks. In Bee T'Ka, in the beginning of 1997, he saw an incident where nine people were called to be checked; one said he was a Government servant, and when unable to produce an identity card, he was killed on the spot. Five ran away to the river and tried to swim, one was caught. Later people saw a dead body, tied to a donkey and dragged along the shore.

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180

Ethnicity/religion: Karen, Christian

Age/sex: 32, male

Family situation: Married with three children

Education: 6th Standard

Occupation: Farm labourer

From: Bee T'Ka, Hlaingbwe township, Kayin State

The witness and his family came to Thailand in April 1996 because they were accused of having contacts with the KNU, had to do forced labour, and faced a lot of hardship. He was a

village head for about a year. There were ten sections in the village, which was divided by a river: on the eastern bank lived mostly Buddhists, on the western, Christians. The village head received orders for forced labour from the commanders of the military camp in the Bee T'Ka monastery area. Every day, the village head had to supply forced labour; as soon as he received the orders, he would first go to the chiefs of the 10 sections to find the number of people required. Usually, the order came in the morning, to be complied with within the same day. If forced labour had to be supplied over a longer or indefinite time span, there would be only one order at the start of the period. Sometimes, the order came with a bullet in the envelope, plus a piece of charcoal. Between rainy season 1995 and April 1996, the village head received four orders with both a bullet and a piece of charcoal, usually when he could not find the number of people required. A letter with a bullet and a piece of charcoal would set the deadline the evening of the same day. During his duties, villagers were directly rounded up four times by the military for forced labour, without the authority of the village head. Once, an order given in writing to the village head was brought by the messenger at too short notice, for 20 porters to be provided within two hours, so the village head could not comply, and after two hours, the military came inside the village and rounded up many people; at last, the village head asked them to release the surplus, which they did. The 20 had to serve three days. As for the other three times, the military sometimes came to the village without warning because they wanted to go to some place and wanted nobody to know, so they just came to the village and grabbed the number of people they wanted (as porters). Some of the villagers could not bear this situation any more and ran away from the village, so the military would fine the other villagers. When one family ran away, the remaining villagers had to pay 40,000 kyat, plus 40 viss (65 kg) of pork. On the day of taking up his functions, he received an order from the military camp command to supply 80 people a day for one month to carry food and supplies from Paw Yebu camp to Taun Zun, Naungbo and other camps, as well as to Bee T'Ka. People who did not want to go had to hire someone else as a substitute, which cost 100 kyat a day. From each of the ten sections in the village, two people had to be every day at the military camp (at the monastery) on standby for portering. These 20 people had to stay with the soldiers for one week and could not come back until they were replaced. To be exempt from this service for three days, people had to pay the military 600 kyat, and for a week, 1,300 kyat. Most could not pay, so they went. All work was unpaid, and people had to bring their own rice. If the army had a confrontation with the KNU, some people would run away, and the military would fine the village for every person escaping; the last time this happened, the village head had to give 4,000 kyat for one person escaping from a war zone as a porter while fighting was going on. About two or three times a month, 30 or 40 villagers would be required in addition as porters by a battalion while patrolling the area; they would stay with the battalion as long as it was on the move, three or four days, sometimes one or two days. The village head also had to supply porters for longer trips. Once in the dry season, 30 people were required for a week. Sometimes porters were tied and beaten because they were accused, without evidence, of being linked to the KNU army; porters were also beaten for being slow. While he was a village head, he saw about 13 people seriously injured. They were put in stocks and still had the marks of iron rods on their skins. One person was beaten on his back until blood ran out of his nose and mouth. He fled to Thailand since and had to take medicine now. Over the same period, nobody from the village was killed, and no woman molested. In the latter part of 1995, a new road was built from Bee T'Ka to Paw Yebu. An order was sent to the village head for one person per family to come and work on the road every day until the road was completed. The work lasted two weeks, was unpaid, workers had to bring their own food and tools and work the whole day, under the supervision of soldiers. After that, construction of another road, about four miles long, from Paw Yebu camp to Taun Zun was undertaken. The road was still under construction in April 1996. Again, one person from each household had to work on the site all the time. If there were only women or old persons in the household, it would depend on the village head, who might try to make arrangement to help that household. To be exempted from the work, one had to give 200 kyat per day. In addition to the 20 villagers on standby for portering, two people had to go every day from the village to be messengers for the military for one day. The order came through the village head, who would usually ask women to be messengers. Also, in January - February 1996, the military obtained information that two guns were not far from the village and asked the village head to lead them there. When he refused, they arrested six women and five men to guide them; they had to go in front, followed by the village head, with soldiers behind, for about two hours. In the hot season, an order was sent to him of for one person per family to come to the military camp at the monastery, to bring bamboo with them, fence the monastery, prepare booby-traps, and dig trenches. The work went on for about four days until completed.

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181

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 15, male

Family situation: Five (him, parents and two brothers; sisters have left home)

Occupation: His father has farm land (palm trees, mangoes, chestnuts)

From: Paw Baw Ko (near Nabu), Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 100 families)

The witness escaped from his village in early February 1998. There was a military camp 500 metres from the village, and another on top of a nearby hill. His brother lost a leg about a month ago, after stepping on a land mine near his village while he was cutting bamboo for the military. He was hospitalized in Myawady hospital. The military said that it was not one of their land mines. He feared the presence of the military in his village. He had to do portering for the military, work related to a military camp, and road construction work. One person from each household had to perform the work required by the military. While he was doing such work himself, other members of his family were not required to do so. His mother did some work for the military until he was old enough to take over. His father performed such work on countless occasions, particularly portering. His brothers and sisters also had to work for the military. His sisters did it when their husbands were away. Since his parents had to provide for the needs of the family, and could not afford to lose a day's work, they had to send their children most of the time. It was the village head who transmitted the orders from the military. It was possible to pay in order to be exempted from the work which had to be carried out. Workers were not paid. Most of the time they had to bring their own food, since no food was provided or, when it was, the quantities were not sufficient. He shared the work of portering with his older brother. Because he was so young, his older brother had to work more often than he did. The last time they had to do portering for the military was during the last harvest. That assignment lasted three days and two nights. He had to walk from his village to Tiwablaw and Tilawthi (over the Dawna mountains). Portering was done in the forest and over varied terrain. He was given a portion of stale rice. He worked with three to five porters for 30 to 40 soldiers. He had to carry food, ammunition and pots for cooking. When he was unable to carry the load that had been assigned to him, the soldiers would shout at him and force him to carry on. He had also been beaten and did not receive any medical treatment. He had to work for the military camp five days prior to this departure. which he had previously cut. He also worked on the construction of the camp. He had to alternate between three days of work and three days of rest. Previously, it had been his pa He worked at that camp for the first time when he was only 13 years old. The work consisted of building fences, digging ditches, carrying water for the camp, and installing bamboo spikes rents who did the work exacted by the military. Now, he shared this burden with his brother. All boys over 12 years old in the village had to perform work for the military. He was not paid but he could not refuse to work since he feared being beaten. He had been beaten on two occasions by the military. The military would shout at the children when they did not perform the work satisfactorily. Children were not entitled to any rest and had to work from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. They had to bring their own food, but were allowed to go home for the night. On countless occasions he had also worked on the construction of two roads leading to Kawkareik. He had to do that until the road was finished. About 40 people worked with him. Girls were not required to work in the military camp, but had to work on road construction by cutting bushes in order to make the road wider.

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182

Age/sex 13, male

Ethnicity: Karen

Family situation: Three (parents and him; no siblings)

Education: 1st Standard

Occupation: His father farmed mangoes until the military built a camp on the land

From: Paw Baw Ko (near Nabu), Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 100 families)

(The witness heard witness 181's statement and agreed with it.)

The witness left Myanmar in mid-February 1998. At his parents' request, he stopped going to school because they needed him to carry out the work required by the military. As they had to

provide for the family's needs, they could not afford to miss a day's work and so sent their only son instead to do the unpaid work. He had to work for the military for the first time at the age of nine, four years ago. The order was transmitted by the village head. In particular, he had to carry water to the camp and cut down the bushes growing along the roadside. He had to work for two days, rest the same number of days, then carry on working to the same schedule. He could not refuse to work. If he was tired, his friends helped him with the work. He did not have to do portering, but the military used him twice to detect mines hidden around the village. His father's brother also worked for the military, including portering.

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183

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 13, male

Family situation: Five (him, parents, older brother and sister)

Education: None

From: Paw Baw Ko (near Nabu), Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 100 families)

(The witness heard witness 181's statement and agreed with it.)

The witness left Myanmar in mid-February 1998. In Myanmar, his parents did not allow him to go to school because they needed him to do the work exacted by the military. He therefore worked for the military camp, carrying water, putting up fences and digging ditches. He worked for the first time at the age of nine, four years ago. The orders from the military on work to be done were transmitted by the village head. He had to work for one day, rest one day, then work again following the same schedule. He did not do any portering. However his father had done it on several occasions, each assignment lasting about three days. His mother had not done forced labour. His sister had worked on the building of a road. She went to the site in the morning and came home in the evening. None of the work was paid. Finally, on six occasions, he was requisitioned by the military to find mines hidden around the village.

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184

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Family situation: Married with three children

Age/sex: 48, male

Education: 6th Standard

Occupation: Farmer (rented his land). In 1996-1997, he became assistant village head, a position he had already held for one year in 1993.

From: Htee Talay, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 174 families and was divided into four sections)

The witness left Myanmar in May 1997 because he did not want to work for the military any longer. Having been a village leader he had to contact people who had to work for the military, mainly to build roads, clear the forest, harvest or do portering. A written order from the military was generally transmitted to the village head. One person per family had to work in accordance with a pre-established rota. No work was paid. It was possible to engage a substitute: 140 kyat per day for assignments other than portering. The cost of a replacement for portering was 500 kyat. It was possible to pay the village head who would then find a replacement. He had to ask the villagers to work because the military would have forced

them to do so in any case. The villagers had to work for the military for more days than for their own work. For portering a family had to provide one person three times a month, each assignment lasting five days. Only the men did that work. They had to carry ammunition, shells and food. The number of porters depended on the number of soldiers to be serviced. The porters had to stay with the soldiers even in battle, to supply them with ammunition. A porter from his village was killed during a fight with the Karen National Union (KNU). The porters were subjected to ill treatment if they could not keep up with the pace of the march, and were beaten and struck by the soldiers. In cases where porters were ill or injured, they were not given any medical treatment or medicines. The villagers also had to work for the military detecting mines hidden in the area around their village. The work was carried out three times in 1996, and the same number of times in 1997. Work was also organized to build the road from Kawkareik to Hpa-an (through Kyawywa), three miles away from his village. The work had to be done throughout the year, five times a month. Both men and women had to work on it. Each assignment lasted three days, including three nights. The workers had to sleep near the work site and had to bring their own food. They could not refuse for fear of reprisals by the soldiers. He organized the work on building the Nabu military camp in 1995 and 1996. Forty to fifty people worked at the same time and were replaced by the same number of people according to a pre-established rota. The work consisted mainly of cutting down trees, clearing the ground (even if that meant cutting down trees on farm land), collecting bamboo and wood. The workers also had to prepare roofing. The workers had to carry materials and carry out the related work. Both men and women had to do this work. Work began at 6 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. The soldiers shouted at the workers when they thought the work was not going satisfactorily. He did not see any workers ill treated, but he had heard stories of women being raped at the work site. He also had to organize harvest work. Personally, he had to work on road building in 1991 (on one occasion for 15 days), 1992 (on one occasion for 15 days), 1993 (on one occasion) and several times in 1996, when he was assistant village head. The soldiers often shouted at them. However, he had not been subjected to ill treatment. He also had to do work related to the Nabu military camp.

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185

Religion: Muslim

Age/sex: 16, female

Family situation: She lived with her widowed mother, elder sister, and two nephews

Education: 3rd Standard

From: Dawlan, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 150 households)

The witness left Myanmar in January 1998. Her village comprised 150 households, at present only one, two or three houses remained. Since September 1997, the authorities announced the village had to be relocated because an army camp was to be set up in its place. No location was indicated for the inhabitants (Muslim, Mon, Burman, Karen) to go to. The people were forced to move. Some went over the border to refugee camps, some (Muslim) wanted to stay, but with the KNU fighting in the village, the authorities did not allow anyone to stay, and there was a lot of shooting. In January, they burned down the village and when villagers tried to come over the border the Myanmar army stopped people to check their identity cards. The Muslims had no identity cards, although they had been promised them already three times by the authorities, which had come and taken photos and data (before September 1997). But the Muslims and Karens never received identity cards. She and her family spoke to soldiers and crossed the check point. Actually, no military base was being set up at the site of the village, which was merely close to an existing base and therefore removed. For her household, she had to go from the age of ten to do forced labour, because her elder sister was not healthy. She did men's work, making a fence around the army base, surfacing the road. The military stayed with sticks behind the people, yelled at them and beat them when they did not work. She saw many men being beaten by soldiers and. Every month, she had to go for 20 to 25 days. From the age of ten, when she was younger, up to the age of 13, she was beaten herself. Now she was afraid of that, so she always worked she had to go to the army base, building houses for the soldiers, digging and carrying mud to make the floors; she also had to help make a fence, carrying bamboo, and doing whatever work the soldiers wanted, such as digging a bunkers and trenches, cooking every morning. In the dry season, she had to carry water. Even if sick, she had to work, was not allowed to be free. By order handed down through the village head, all 150 households in the village had to contribute every month ten days of regular work for the army camp. In her family, she had to go for 20 to 25 days, in part (ten days) as regular work for the army base; the remainder was because her family could not pay for porters fees, over 1,000 kyat every month. When they told the village head they could not pay, the soldiers came to the house, pointed a gun at them, so that she feared for her life, then told her to work at the army camp. Thus, they came every month when the family could not pay the porter fees. In her family, one person (herself) worked all the time for the army. She did not work as a porter. With regard to sexual abuse, when single women were sent to the army camp, soldiers did to them what they wanted, afterwards they either married or paid them; the women were very shy to talk. The villagers could not do anything about it. When she did work at the army camp, every evening her mother went there and fetched her back home. When she was 13 or 14 years old, she also had to work surfacing a car road from one army base to another. It was always for 15 days, people had to take food with them and sleep beside the road. The frequency of the call up was not regular, it depended on the road situation; in the dry season, it was more often, sometimes once per month or every two months. They had to cut trees, place the trunks on either side of the road, carry soil and fill the space between the trunks. In rainy season, girls had to transport ammunition and guns ten days a month, paddling a canoe; men had to carry them over land. Every rainy season, the village was flooded, the water almost covered the houses, but people still had to pay porter fees and transport ammunition and guns in canoes (dugout or made of planks, for three to four people, two girls paddled - one in front, one at the back). These three types of work filled the year for her. In addition, there were the following minor jobs. First, the villagers had to pay 20 kyat per month (per household) for the soldiers' wash, then the army paid someone to do their laundry (single women). She worked twice because her family could not pay the 20 kyat. Second, every day, every family had to carry a bundle of firewood, a tin of rice and 10 kyat to the army. She collected and carried the firewood. Third, every day four families (out of 150) had to supply one person to watch for strangers outside the village, two in front and two at the back of the army base. Her family could not stand watch because they had too much other work to do, so about once a month, when it was their turn, they paid 100 kyat to someone else to go. She decided in the end that she could not stay in the village because she was overloaded with work. That is the reason why she left.

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186

 

Ethnicity/religion: Karen, Buddhist

Age/sex: 16, female

Family situation: Seven (her, her parents, two elder and two younger siblings)

Education: 6th Standard

Occupation: Farmers

From: Htee Talay, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

The witness's family came to Thailand in December 1997 because they could not cope anymore with the quantity of forced labour and portering. She had done forced labour herself since the age of 15, causing her to drop out of school. At age 15, she worked for six months on the tar road from Nabu to Kyondo, from the start of rainy season (June to July 1996) until the end of the cold season (January 1997). One person per household had to go. There were people from other sections, villages, towns too, altogether over 4,000 people at the same time. The authorities had given the list of people: so many from this village, etc. When the soldiers were eating, they put the list on the table and she looked and her name was also on the list. The presence of all workers was checked three times a day, in the morning, early afternoon and evening. The evening check was very strict. Because her family could not pay 300 kyat per day for the road, she had to drop out of school and go and work on the road for six months. She had to eat and sleep at the work site because the road was far from home. At night they were not allowed back home. They had to work from early morning till evening, then had to cook when it was already dark. There was no shelter, she had to sleep under a tree. Every month her family sent her the necessary rice, fish paste, ajinomoto (monosodium glutamate). In the six months, she once was sick with headache and fever. She received no medication from the soldiers but was allowed to go home (one-and-a-half hours walk on foot) for two days. For these two days, the family had to pay 200 kyat. Then the army came and took her back. At the work site, some people cut trees, some dug mud, some carried stones and some carried tar. She carried tar and cut trees up to 20 cm across. Soldiers only watched the people work and yelled when they stopped. She saw many people being beaten for being lazy. Especially in the dry season when it was very hot, people could not work and

stopped, so the soldiers beat them and asked the village head to pay a fine of 200 kyat per day for the delay at work. She herself was beaten once by a soldier, and yelled at many times. She was beaten because she was sick and wanted to quit, a soldier told her to see the colonel, who was not there, so she could not get permission, and when she sat on the side of the road a soldier saw her and beat her. On that occasion, she could not go home and had to continue working. She had fever, she doesn't know why, maybe from the heat, working under the sun. In addition, by order from the military, handed down through the village head, in March 1997, one person from each household, including the witness, had to work for one month for the army base at Two-Elephant village (Sin Hna-kaun). About 300 people were working there. They had to clear and prepare the ground and plant rubber trees. When the planting was finished, the army took the plants. She did not know who received the profit. The place was remote from the water and she was very thirsty. The place was two miles away from her house, but she was not allowed home at night for the whole month, she had to sleep anywhere, had to bring her own food, and was not paid for the work. The soldiers were always there, watching. The treatment was the same as for surfacing the road, but she was not beaten, since she worked all the time. Attendance was checked every day two or three times. In April 1997, by order handed down through the village head, one person per household, including herself, had to go for one day to Sin Hna-kaun army base to carry tree trunks, logs, for the base. After April 1997, at the beginning of the rainy season, one person per household (including herself) had to work for a full month carrying paddy seed for an army field and planting it. The place was four hours away from witness's home near Nabu hill. She had to take her own food and everything with her, and carry the seed, 24 to 32 tins (about 4 kg). This was the villagers' seed. They were given no shelter, but had to find it themselves. The treatment was the same as before.

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187

Ethnicity/religion: Karen, Buddhist

Age/sex: 20, male

Family situation: Her, her parents and four siblings

Education: 5th Standard

Occupation: Farmer

From: Htee Talay, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

The witness left Myanmar for the first time at the age of 17 and for the last time in October 1997. He had to drop out of school at age 14 because of forced labour - he could not go to school when working; also, they had to pay school fees, about 200 to 300 kyat per month at primary level (from 1st to 4th Standard), about 600 kyat at upper levels. He continued to do forced labour until age 17, for about six months out of eight months in the cold season, surfacing roads, building military camps, also portering, and for two months out of three in the rainy season, working on army paddy fields. He could not stand it anymore, if he had to stayed in the village he would still have been doing forced labour. He first came to Thailand at age 17, and since then he had crossed the border many times, avoiding forced labour. At age 14, he worked on a rock road, four hours walk from the village, and for the next two years on two other roads, only during the cold season. Sometimes he had to go every week, sometimes for a full two weeks, and sometimes for a whole month. The order came from the army base to the village head, requiring one person from each family. He was never paid any money for doing forced labour. He had to bring his own food. If people could not work, they paid a fee of 500 to 600 kyat per day to the soldiers (at the time he was working). He saw a woman from his village who worked on the road and went to take a shower at the well in the evening being followed by a soldier and raped. He did not know the soldier, who was not punished. The woman tried to complain to the village head, but the village head did not dare talk to soldiers. He did not see other abuses while road building, nobody was hit. In addition, From age 15 to 17, he had to go two or three times a year as a porter, carrying food, rice, ammunition, sometimes for five days (once 20 miles in five days non stop walking), sometimes for two weeks or more. The order came first to the village head, and if he could not collect the number of porters requested, the army came and took the people themselves. They were never told before for how long they were to be porters. If it took too long, the village had to collect the rice to feed the porters and send it to them. They never got money for portering, but the family paid sometimes 200 to 300 kyat to the army to find someone else for portering. It depended on how many porters the army wanted. That is what they paid when he was between 15 and 17 years old. He didn't know what the payment was now. At age 16, he contracted malaria after 17 days of portering, carrying 10 viss (about 16 kg) of rice and ammunition uphill. He received no treatment and had to continue carrying his load, even though sick; he was afraid to be killed if he did not continue. He saw other people being killed, among these, ten people who were hit by shells when there was fighting, because porters always had to be in front of the soldiers. They were not tied. Two or three were killed while there was no fighting, they were hit with a gun at various places on their bodies. Those were from other villages. He had heard about, but had not seen, women porters being raped. Finally, he had to go about 15 times a year for two to three days each time to clear the ground around the army base, make trenches, empty the old toilet, dig and build a new toilet. In the rainy season he had to take a cow and tools to army paddy fields and plough and work there for two months; he had to carry only his own food, but not the seeds.

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188

Ethnicity/religion: Karen, Buddhist

Age/sex: 49, male

Family situation: Married with five children

Occupation: Farmer

From: Htee Talay, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

In the last five or six years, most forced labour which his family had to do, including portering, was done by his son and daughter. His personal experiences over the same period were limited to the following. Four years ago, in the cold season, he was travelling on a bus from Kawkareik to Thingannyinaung village, where soldiers from IB 44 stopped the bus, took all

male passengers and sent them on an army truck, tied in pairs with a nylon rope, to Mepale on the front line with the KNU. The next day, each of them was given eight viss of rice to carry to the top of a mountain, where the battalion was based. After that, they had to carry the rice going around the Kawkareik area with an army column for 28 days, when the group of people to which he belonged was released (another group was not). In his group of 75 people, four died (he could not see for the other group). He saw many people who had been porters for many months, not released back home, ill and weak. They were beaten because they were weak, not given water. He did not see anybody being killed, but many beaten. Some people died from diseases, they gave only one tablet of some medicine, only once. He saw his cousin, who also had been arrested, die from diarrhea; they gave him some medicine, but he had to carry on the day he died; he was very tired in the evening, settled down, and the next morning he was dead. For five days in 1997, he replaced his daughter planting rubber trees for the army. He had to pay porter fees, road fees, give paddy seeds and rubber plants, and either pay or send a person (with a cow) to plant paddy and watch the village. The porter fees were about 600 kyat every month, to be paid to the authorities if his family did not want to do portering. The road-building fees were 100 kyat a day if they did not work until the road was finished. For the paddy seeds and rubber plants, the family's contribution depended on how much the army requested from the village. In 1997, it was 64 (small) tins of rice, plus 3,000 rubber plants for the village; he bought 50 rubber plants at 25 kyat each totalling 1,250 kyat; after the purchase, they also had to do the planting. The army kept the proceeds.

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189

Occupation: Medic

The witness worked as a medic in Thailand. He had seen many former porters from Myanmar with scars from excessively heavy loads while portering. When there was fighting on the border, there was more portering. Every month, he saw new people with scars from portering. Also, he had first-hand information from Myawady hospital (in Myanmar) that every month six to seven civilian injuries from land mines, who all appeared to be porters, marked by scars from carrying excessively heavy loads, had to be turned away because priority was to be given

to the army, and civilians had to pay for everything in hospital, even gloves and alcohol for the nurses. Usually they died from the mine injury becoming infected. __________________________

 

190

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 43, female

Family situation: Married with four children (aged between three and 17)

From: Kawsaing, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 260 families)

Since February 1997, villagers had been working without rest for the military. In February, hundreds of soldiers arrived in the village and took most of the villagers' livestock and

property. In March, soldiers (from LIB 547) ordered the villagers to clear the ground for their new camp. Villagers had to cut down trees and bamboo, level the ground, construct buildings and barracks, build fences, dig trenches and build bunkers around the compound. Villagers worked on the new camp until the end of May. She personally had to work four days per month at the camp. She also sent her daughter, who was 17 years old. They were not paid, and had to bring their own supplies and equipment. In April, the villagers were ordered by LIB 547 to build a new primary school. They had to clear and level the ground until the end of May. This work had to be done simultaneously with the camp work. Two teachers were sent from town and the village had to hire one teacher. Students had to pay to attend classes. Fifteen to 45 kyat per month plus two baskets (one basket was 21 kg) of unhusked rice per year. She had to work ten days per month. If a person failed to work, he or she had to hire a substitute at 300 kyat a day. During the rainy season her daughter was called as a porter three or four times. She or her eldest daughter were called at least twice a month by the camp to cook, to clean the compound and so on. She also had to carry messages and collect vegetables. Her husband was in poor health, and their betel nuts were picked by the soldiers in October 1997. She then had to sell the nuts and give the money to the soldiers. They were afraid to complain, and had nothing left. They decided to leave the village in October 1997.

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191

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 17, female

Family situation: Single

From: Kawsaing, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 260 families)

The witness left Myanmar in October 1997. In March and April 1997, she had to work doing construction for at least 20 days each month. She also served as a porter four times in 1997

(all portering was done in Kayin State). She portered from Kawsaing to Yauk Kaya (a two- hour trip) carrying a tripod (stand for a mortar); from Kawsaing to Lampha; from Kawsaing to Peinnwegon; and from Kawsaing to Kyeikywa. Soldiers made her carry their bags on the way and they themselves carried only guns and equipment. Women occasionally had to serve as porters especially on short trips. She saw old women, mothers with children, girls and pregnant women serving in this capacity. They had to bring their own food and supplies.

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192

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 35, male

Family situation: Married with three children (five to 12 years old)

Occupation: Farmer

From: Kawsaing, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 260 families)

The witness left Myanmar in 1997. During the 1997 hot season, he had to build a military camp and a school. He also had to serve as porter a countless number of times during the 1997 rainy season since carts could not be used on damaged roads. He had to travel to Ason, Kyeikywa, Kwiko and Thaung Pyaung villages. He had to carry ammunition, rice and supplies. The rice sack weighed 22 kg. He was badly treated on one occasion on a trip to Kyeikywa in July 1997. He was kicked and beaten because he was late after losing his way due to heavy rain. No medical treatment was provided to sick porters. On another occasion in October 1997, the village head and four villagers were beaten as a reprisal for the death of a captain in an ambush near to his village. In 1997, he also had to clear the ground between Kawkareik and Kyeikdon so to prepare it for a road to be built. He had to work there six times, twice for seven days and four times for three days. He was ordered by LIB 547 and LIB 548. While villagers had to cut trees, the soldiers would bring the logs to the villages and towns and sell them. He decided to leave Myanmar at the end of 1997 since he was not able to work anymore on his farm.

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193

Age: 58, male

Family situation: Married with eight children

Occupation: Farmer

From: Kawsaing, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 260 families)

The witness left Myanmar because he could not live alongside the military anymore. He was shot by the military one month ago while returning from his fields. He did not know the reason why. He served two times as porter in 1997. The first was in July between Kawaw and Kyeikdon. It was a one-day trip and he had to carry ammunition. The second was 15 days after the first trip. He had to go to Kawkareik. It was a seven day trip. He had to sleep in the rain for six days. Soldiers were under plastic shelters. The porters were tied up with ropes (hands and legs) so as to prevent their escape. He was beaten on one occasion when, one night, he got up to go to the toilet. One of his relatives died, shot after a portering journey. At the beginning of 1997, soldiers started to arrive in his village and requested the villagers to build their camp. They had to, among other things, clear the ground, cut trees and erect buildings. He personally had to work on this assignment for two months. He saw one villager beaten to death with an iron bar because he was not able to climb a tree as ordered by a soldier. The witness tried to escape with 30 others but failed to do so. They were ordered not to repeat what had happened and threatened with murder if they did not comply. Villagers were hurt also while working on the camp site. No medical assistance was provided.

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194

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 62, female

Family situation: Married

From: Antwe, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 32 families)

The witness left Myanmar in November 1997. She was appointed as village head in March 1997 and served in this capacity for three months. The military requested her to organise the work of the villagers so as to construct their camp in Hlawlay. She divided the families into two groups which had to work on a rotational basis. She personally had to work with the other villagers and believed that the toughest work which she had to perform was to cut and carry bamboos from her village to the camp, on a two-mile distance. During the 1997 rainy season, her village was relocated to Hlawlay together with Klaw Chaw, Thawaw Thaw, Po Kaw and No Po Khee. She had to move to Hlawlay in June 1997. There she had to build fences. In November 1997, the military ordered the villagers to give two thirds of their rice crops to the army camp. Her husband served as a porter five times in 1997. He was beaten when he was too slow and was given rotten rice as food ration.

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195

Age/sex: 35, male

Family situation: Married with four children

From: Mikathut, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(lived in Antwe village prior to leaving Myanmar)

The witness left Myanmar in November 1997. In March 1997, he had to build a new military camp, a military warehouse and a football field for the soldiers. He also had to lay fences and

dig bamboo traps around the military compound. He also served twice as a porter. The first trip was just before the 1997 Water Festival (early April). He had to go to Kwilo on a three-day journey. On this occasion, he had to carry a rice supply which weighed 25 kg. The second assignment was for nine days in May 1997 when he had to accompany troops from Division 101 returning to Kawkareik. He had to carry weights of at least 40 kg.

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196

 

Age/sex: 43, male

Family situation: Married with six children

From: Aunghlaing, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 100 families)

The military built an army camp in his village in March 1997. He personally had to, among other things, cut trees, build buildings, dig ditches and lay fences. He worked on this assignment for two months. Children of ten years of age would come also and cut down small branches. In order to be exempted from the work, it was necessary to pay to the soldiers 200 kyat and a chicken for each working day missed. During the rainy season, he served as a porter twice a month. He was also ordered to work two days a month for the military camp performing all light duties ordered by the military. Two people died and two others were wounded when Karen soldiers opened fire on the camp at the end of July 1997. He was requested with three other persons to carry the wounded to Kawkareik. Eight soldiers accompanied them. Since the journey was long and the people to be carried heavy, they asked for additional porters. The military authorised only four additional men. They arrived late at night. The next day, the village head was severely beaten and villagers were requested to pay 35,000 kyat because they failed to inform the military of a KNU ambush.

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197

 

Age/sex: 50, male

From: Peinnwe, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 100 families)

The witness left Myanmar at the end of 1997. During the 1997 hot season, he had to work on the army camp which was being built in his village. During the 1997 rainy season, he served

as a porter and had to carry supplies for the military in this capacity.

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198

 

Ethnicity: Mon

Age/sex: 18, female

Family situation: Three (her, husband, one child aged 14 months); she had four siblings

From: Taung Khun, Yebu township, Tanintharyi Division

(village had 40 households)

The witness arrived in the Mon refugee camp in January 1998. She married three years ago. Her parents came to the refugee camp before her. She did forced labour on railway construction, on the Natkyizin section of the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway. She started to do that work again about seven months before arriving in the camp (this was during the rainy

season), after a break to have her baby. She had to do work on the railway until she was 5 months pregnant, then she rested until the baby was five months old. During the period while she was resting, she had to pay a substitute to go in her place on three occasions (each time she had to pay the substitute 1,000 kyat and food for 15 days). The orders for work on the railway were given by the army to the village head, who then instructed the villagers; the soldiers also demanded porters in the same way, as well as food and alcohol on a regular basis. The village was divided into two sections for the purpose of arranging the work. One person from each house would have to go from each section in turn for a period of two weeks, by rotation (i.e. 20 people at a time). The villagers had to walk for over one hour to reach the work site. They had to take their own rice, salt and fish paste, as well as money to buy vegetables at the work site. There were some small shops at the work site which were set up by soldiers' wives (with prices slightly higher than normal). Her household had to do seven such rotations of forced labour. Of these, she went four times (3 times before and during her

pregnancy, once after having her child), and her husband three times. She had to go more often, because her husband was often away portering when it was their household's turn to do forced labour. There was a labour camp at the work site, and the villagers had to stay there during their two-week work period. The work they had to do was collecting rocks and breaking them into chippings using a small hammer. This was very hard work. They had to work from 6 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., with a break from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They had to work in the rainy season as well. The soldiers stood on the embankment and supervised and guarded the labourers. They beat and shouted at people who were working slowly. She often saw people beaten and kicked by the soldiers (at least three times in a two week period). When she went back to work after having her baby, she had to bring the baby to the work site. While she was working during the day, she had to leave the baby unattended at the camp. She was able to arrange with the other villagers that she worked at a place which was close to the camp, so that she could keep an eye out for her baby while she was working. She fed the baby before starting work in the morning, then had to ask permission from the soldiers to feed it during the morning. She was only allowed one break in the morning to feed the baby, and one break in the afternoon. There were other women from her village with babies at the work site, but their babies were older so they had less of a problem, since they could put their babies beside them while they worked. About seven or eight of the people from her village were women, most of whom had to bring children with them to the work site. There were four or five children under five from her village at the work site. People from other villages were also working on the railway, but each village had to work on a different point on the railway. The camp where she worked had only people from her village, but there was another camp nearby with about 100 villagers from another village. The youngest person she saw working was about 14, and the oldest over 50. If workers became sick they received no medicine (if they had money, they could buy some medicines at the small shops). When her baby was sick, she could get no medicine. Her husband had to go for portering ever since they were married three years ago. This was the same time that she and her husband first had to do forced labour. The soldiers usually asked for ten porters from her village at a time, but sometimes as many as 15. The soldiers asked for porters about three times a month, and usually took porters for a period of about seven days. Because her husband was often doing portering and she was doing forced labour, she hardly ever saw him. Three days after they got married, her husband had to go and do forced labour on the railway. Her husband had no regular income. He worked on his father's farm, for which his father fed their family. Because she had to do hard physical work while nursing, she did not have enough milk. As a result the baby became malnourished, and also developed epilepsy, she said it was because of the shock of having to stay in very bad conditions without care at the work site. Since arriving at the Mon refugee camp she had been able to send the baby to hospital and take a rest herself, so it was better. Her husband did not leave the village with her, and she still did not know where he was. She last saw him five days before she left her village. He was taken for portering by LIB 409, together with five other villagers. They were told they were going to Mae Than Taung village near Kanbauk, so he did not take much food. After three days, however, none of the villagers had returned, and she heard that her husband had been sent to Kanbauk by the military. She decided to leave, because in the absence of her husband, it would be impossible for her and her child to survive; all the forced labour would fall on her. She still had no news from him, and did not know if he was still alive. It was difficult to leave her village, because the troops had given an order preventing people from travelling, because they were worried people would try to flee forced labour. She managed to go to Yah Pu village, however, and there she met someone from the Mon camp buying vegetables, and went to the camp with him. Her parents had already been at the camp for two years. She had also experienced forced relocation. In February 1997 her village, along with two others, was forced to relocate on three days' notice by LIB 409. The villagers were told that anyone who did not relocate would be shot. No specific relocation site was provided, and the villagers moved to nearby villages such as Kywe Thone Nyi Ma and Kyauktaya (the nearest being two hours' walk away). About three months later, in June when the rains started, the villagers tried to move back to their area because they had farms there. They were allowed to return to their village, but under strict curfew. If they wanted to go outside the village to tend their farms, they had to pay 20 kyat, and had to return by evening. If a person was found outside the village without permission, they would be fined 1,000 kyat and beaten with a rattan cane. This happened to people who came to the village from other villages, and who therefore were not aware of the curfew rules. The soldiers were always in the village, and stayed in houses in the village when they were there. There was a military camp at Chaungphya, about a one hour walk away. This camp had been built by the villagers about four months ago, who also had to provide the wood and bamboo for the construction. Each woman had to cut 50 bamboo poles, and 100 saplings to make the fence, and each man had to cut 100 bamboo poles and 200 saplings. This would take three to four days for a person to cut. During the actual construction of the camp, workers had their hat, knife and food taken from them during rest times, so that they could not run away. Also, at least two villagers had to be permanently outside the village as sentries. Sometimes the soldiers came to check, and if the sentries were asleep the soldiers would fine them 1 viss (1.6 kg) of chicken.

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199

Ethnicity: Mon

Age/sex: 56, female

Family situation: Six (husband, two sons, one daughter-in-law, one grandson)

From: Sein Suay, Mintha village-tract, Yebyu township, Tanintharyi Division (previously lived in Kywe Thone Nyi Ma)

The witness arrived in the Mon refugee camp in January 1998. She had to do forced labour collecting rocks for the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway construction. She first had to do this work

three years ago; she did it many times in this period, for about two weeks each time. The village was divided into two or three groups (depending on the number of workers required at one time), with workers from each household going from each of the groups in turn. Workers would get less than one month rest between periods of forced labour. The village head had drawn up a list of all able-bodied people in the village, and when it was a household's turn to do forced labour, only one worker could stay behind to work for the family. Thus, if there were four workers in a house, three would have to go for forced labour when it was the turn of that house. In her household, the worker who stayed behind varied by rotation. The workers in each household were given a number, and when that number was called by the village head to go for forced labour, the person had to go or send someone else in their place. In her household, herself and her sons were on the list, but her husband was lame because of polio, and so was not on the list. Recently, the army deceived the villagers by telling them that they would be paid for work on the railway, but when they had finished the work they received no payment. When she first started to do forced labour on the railway she lived in Kywe Thone Nyi Ma. At that time the work was digging and carrying mud to build the embankment. She continued to do this work after she went to Sein Suay. There the villagers had to collect and crush rocks. The work site was about one hour's walk from the village, so she used to go back to the village to sleep at night. She left the village at 5 a.m. to start

work at 6 a.m. They were allowed to rest from 11.30 to 12 noon, then they had to work again until 6 p.m., so she got back to her village at about 7 p.m. According to arrangements made by the village head, women had to work during the day (from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and the men had to work from 6 p.m. to midnight. This was done so that the men would have time during the day to do their normal work. Also, the village was afraid of abuse of the women by the military if they had to work at night. Even so, there were problems with the arrangement because when the men were away during the evening, the soldiers would steal animals from the village. Some women were also raped at this time, and some were then taken by force to live with the soldiers. She knows of five women who were raped in this way, two of whom were then taken by force to live with the soldiers. This happened two or three months ago. The two women never came back. The work was very tiring. She had always had good health, but since last year she suffered a chronic cough and had difficulty breathing. She thought this was due to carrying heavy loads of stones on her head for long periods without rest. During the work, men were often beaten by the soldiers. Women were usually just sworn at. On one occasion while her son was doing forced labour, he was ordered to get alcohol for the soldiers. He arrived back late from going to get the alcohol, and so was beaten. The village head was ordered to fetch a stick, then her son was beaten with it until it broke. He was badly injured, and had to have medical treatment consisting of ten injections. He was left with scars all over his body. She saw two other people beaten during forced labour. The two were having an argument among themselves, so the soldiers beat them with a stick, then made them do ten "laps" of frog-jumps (with their hands behind their heads), each "lap" about 20 metres. This was the standard punishment for people who the soldiers thought were not working properly. On one occasion she saw an elderly man forced to do this punishment. The villagers also had to do portering. At all times, two porters from the village were required to do work at the army camp at Eindayaza. This had been going on for one year. People went for a period of two weeks, and were then replaced. Her son did this twice, for two weeks each time. He was not beaten while doing this work. Last year people were forced to build an army camp at Siu Ku village near Kaleinaung. Fifteen people from each village in the area were required to go, and each village was responsible for constructing one building. The camp was two days' walk from their village, and the villagers had to work for seven-day periods. People from her family went three times (her elder son went twice, her younger son went once). She fled from Kywe Thone Nyi Ma because of too much forced labour. The men worked as fishermen, but it was difficult for them to earn a living because of the forced labour. She had to sell her oxen, because they were often forced by the soldiers to be used for transporting stones and earth etc., and became lame from over-work. She had to leave her belongings behind. Many other people also fled at this time. When they arrived at the new village (Sein Suay), however, they found the situation was no better. In the end, one month ago, they fled to the camp. She came because her sons also left, and she was dependent on them. Her sons fled because they did not have enough time to work to support the family. She fled to the camp by pretending to be a dried fish seller at army checkpoints.

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200

Ethnicity: Mon

Age/sex: 35, female

Family situation: Seven (her, husband, five children)

Occupation: Farmer (dry rice)

From: Paukpingwin, Yebyu township, Tanintharyi Division

(village had 300 households)

The witness arrived in the Mon refugee camp at the end of 1997 (three months ago), from Paukpingwin, because they could not tolerate the amount of forced labour. She did forced labour collecting rocks for the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway construction. This work started two or three years ago; work restarted in September or October 1997 near the end of the rainy season. The orders to do this forced labour came from the military to the village head, who then instructed the villagers. One person per household had to go. She had to go herself because her husband was often away portering, or had to work in his fields (it was hard to make a living: last year, they had to live on only rice soup for a period of two months). She went a total of about 15 times, each time for a period of a month; her husband did not work on the railway, he only did portering and his own work. During the month at the work site, the workers got one day off every ten days. The work she had to do was breaking rocks with a hammer. When she worked, she left her children in the village (the youngest was two, the eldest ten). It was a two-hour walk from the village to the work site (they returned to their village each night). They had to leave their village at 6 a.m. and arrived back at the village at 8 p.m. They only had a half-hour break from work at noon. There was a total of about 300 villagers working together at the work site at any one time. The treatment of villagers at the work site was bad. She herself was kicked three times in the back by a soldier while working, because she was tired and could not work properly. She has seen other people treated badly, usually kicked and sometimes beaten with a rifle butt. Some people were badly injured in this way. Her uncle was severely beaten to the head with a rifle butt, and had to receive medical treatment for a month (no medical treatment provided by the authorities). The village doctor provided the services, and this was paid for by the village, but he had to repay this money. During this month his son had to go to work in his place, then after one month the uncle had to work again. It took him two months to fully recover. It was dangerous for the women when walking home at night, because of sexual abuse by the soldiers. This happened to two or three women from her village, including her sister, who was raped. The village head complained to the military commander, who encouraged the soldier to marry the girl, but the soldier refused on the grounds that the woman was Mon, and he was Burmese. The rape happened last September; her sister was 15. Her husband first did portering about five years ago. He went many times, usually about three times per year. The worst was in 1997, when he did portering three times for three months each time. In previous years he was usually away for about one month at a time. Some people can afford to hire substitutes to do portering for them, but her family could not. When her husband did portering she did not know where he went, or how long he would be away. Once he was beaten and came home with injuries. Other porters died during portering. Usually, five people were taken from the village as porters at one time. Her husband said that during portering he had to carry ammunition. He always came home thin and weak, and he often had injuries on his back and shoulders from carrying the loads. Over the last few years, she knows of ten porters from her village who died during portering. Five of these died in 1997. The villagers saw some of the dead bodies with wounds from being beaten. About 6 months ago, two women were also taken from her village as porters, and were raped and killed while portering. They were both about 16 years old and unmarried. It was difficult to survive if her husband was away portering and she was doing forced labour at the same time. It was particularly bad last year when her husband was away a lot, but the railway forced labour was less severe at this time because there were no soldiers guarding the workers. At such times, she often had to collect jungle vegetables for food, or borrow food from relatives. When her children were sick, she had to borrow money to buy herbal medicines. In her village, about 20-30 households were in a similar position to hers, with the man often away portering, and the woman doing forced labour. Some other households were able to hire substitute workers. It cost 1,000 kyat to hire a replacement porter, regardless of the length of time (this was because the military did not inform porters in advance how many days they would have to work). There was an army camp in her village which was built by the villagers starting three years ago. She herself had to do this work five times. She had to carry bamboo to be used for the construction. It was a large camp with a number of buildings, which was finished last rainy season. Forty villagers at a time were involved in this work, men and women. After the construction of the buildings, fences and trenches the work did not stop, because there was almost constant repair, renovation and extension. Five people per night were also required to be sentries. When it was the turn of her household to provide a sentry, her husband was away and so she would have had to do it, except that her cousin did it for her out of sympathy. The soldiers mistreated the villagers often. The soldiers also stayed without permission in villagers' houses at night, and they often abused the women at this time, when the men were away. She knows of ten such incidents since last rainy season. Usually the soldiers were in groups of two. Last rainy season, the area where she lived was flooded. At one point while she was at the work site, she had to spend one day and one night up a tree without food because of the floods. After a complaint from the villagers, the soldiers eventually made a bamboo raft and rescued her and some other villagers. One person had drowned. The flood destroyed the work camp and the embankment they had been building. Shortly before fleeing to the refugee camp her family had to complete a quota of eight kyin (one kyin = 100 cubic feet) of broken stones. Her husband was away portering, and when in October 1997 she did not complete the quota, the soldiers came and ripped down her house and took away the wood. After that she went to stay with another family in Aleh Sakhan village. There she was ordered to complete one kyin of stones, and after completing this she fled with her children to the refugee camp. It took her four days to walk to the camp. Her husband had not returned from portering, but he received the news and he also fled. Her husband arrived at the refugee camp two months after she did (one month ago). She had nine sisters. The five oldest, who had their own households, also had to do railway forced labour. Only two of them had husbands in the village. The husbands of the other three had gone to work in Thailand and they had lost contact with them for two years now. For these three life was very difficult. One of them left for the refugee camp before she did. The other four sisters had not yet married and live with her parents. She came to the refugee camp along with her family and four other families. She knew of 30 families who had left the village recently to escape constant forced labour which meant they did not have time to work for their own families.

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201

Ethnicity: Mon

Age/sex: 48, male

Family situation: Married with six children

Occupation: Slash-and-burn farmer

From: Chaung Phya, Natkyizin village-tract, Yebyu township, Tanintharyi Division (village had 40 households)

The witness came to the Mon refugee camp at the end of 1997 (three months ago) to escape portering and forced labour which left him with no time to earn a living. Twenty people were taken from his village for 15 days at a time to do forced labour on construction of the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway. The work site was far from the village, so the villagers had to stay there for the work period. They had to arrange their own transport and food (they could not carry all necessary food with them and so had to take about 2,500 kyat to buy food at the work site). The work site was near Kaleinaung, and it took them more than one day to get there (with an overnight stop at Kanbauk). The work started three or four years ago, he thought it was 1993. His village was divided into two groups for the purpose of organising the forced labour. Villagers from each group had to go in rotation, so each group would work for 15 days, then have 15 days off, then work again for 15 days. The military chose a "group leader" from among the workers from a village, and he would be punished by being severely beaten if any of the labourers ran away. For this reason people did not want to be group leader and the group leaders often ran away, so the group leader changed often. He saw such punishments of group leaders many times. A group leader from his village was severely punched and kicked when some labourers ran away. The man had to provide replacement workers, and soon after this ran away himself. The work they had to do was digging mud to level the ground. The work site was a one hour walk from the camp where they stayed. The workers had to draw lots to decide which person did which section. They had to work from 6 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., with a break of 90 minutes in the middle of the day. If they finished their day's assignment before 5.30, they would be given other work to do, so they made their given assignments last the whole day. The hardest work was building the embankment and collecting rocks. Men and women (even pregnant women in other groups, though not in his group) did this work. The oldest workers were about 60, and the youngest 15 or 16. Some women brought their children with them to the work sites. Some workers secretly took a rest during work. If the soldiers found where they were hiding, they would beat them. He was the only person from his family who went, because the only child who was old enough to go was a daughter, and he did not want her to go. His wife had to look after the children. Sometimes they had to sell property or borrow money to make ends meet until the rice harvest. There was an army camp at his village, which had been constructed with forced labour from the villagers. The camp was built around the same time that the railway forced labour started. His village had to build the camp using materials provided by a number of villages in the area. Once the camp was built, there had to be four villagers permanently there to do forced labour. It was the responsibility of the village to rotate these people. However, these four workers were treated very badly by the soldiers. The villagers were beaten and kicked by the soldiers for fun. They were given no rest. Many of the villagers could not speak Burmese fluently, so when they were given orders by the soldiers, sometimes they did not understand. When there was no work to do, the soldiers did not let them rest, but made work for them, such as picking up leaves. Some women were abused by the soldiers at gunpoint. Because of this bad treatment, in the end none of the villagers wanted to do this work. The village instead paid 26,000 kyat per month to hire four people to do this work. The military also often came to the village to take porters (three to six at a time). People usually had to do portering for five or six days at a time. The soldiers took porters in this way three or four times a month. He himself did portering twice (two years ago). The first time was for four days, the second time was for three days. He had to carry food supplies, 12 pyi of rice weighing about 22 kg. They would sometimes be given no rest if the soldiers had to cover a large distance in a day. There were two kinds of porters: those arranged by the soldiers through the village head, and those rounded up directly by the soldiers. Those arranged through the village head could not run away, but those who were rounded up directly had the chance to escape. Some people were beaten during portering. He himself was beaten during his first portering trip. At that time he was a guide for the soldiers, and they beat him when they were not satisfied with the path he showed them. He was hit in the face with a rifle butt, and his face was badly swollen for a few days. There was no lasting damage. The present situation with portering was less severe than before the Mon cease-fire. In his village there were both Mon and Tavoyan people. The military tended to favour the Tavoyans (they gave them better food and less severe work). The military was also involved in extortion. The military sent orders to village heads for the village to provide (for example) five viss of dried prawns, or chickens or other food. If the village did not have the particular food requested, they would have to buy it. Sometimes a group of seven or eight soldiers would come to the village, and they would just take a pig or whatever they wanted. They sometimes just threw stones at chickens for fun, but no one could say anything. The soldiers also raped girls in his village. A Mon girl was raped by some soldiers when her husband was doing forced labour. The soldiers had come to the village and demanded a pig. The village said they could not spare one, so the soldiers demanded half a pig, then got drunk in the village and walked around, and saw the girl. They tried to talk to her, but she did not speak Burmese very well, and they then raped her. Another woman was grabbed by one of the soldiers and he put her on his shoulders and another soldier lifted up her longyi (sarong). She cried out, and other villagers came, so nothing else happened. This happened last year. He thought that five or six women in his village were raped since the cease-fire in 1995, but the women did not want to talk about it. It usually happened when their husbands were away doing forced labour or portering. In another case, a man in Natkyizin village had a beautiful daughter, and one of the soldiers wanted to marry her. The father of the girl did not agree and complained to the soldier's commander, who punished the soldier. As revenge, the soldier took the father as a porter, and cut his throat while he was portering. Poor families could not afford to pay extortion money to the soldiers, so the soldiers would come and beat them and tell them to do what the other villagers did. He was in this situation, so in the end he fled secretly with his family. He had to come secretly because the soldiers stopped people they thought were trying to flee. It took him one month to reach the camp from his village. His village used to have 70-80 households. When he left there were only about 40 left, and now there were even fewer. Some of the villagers fled to other villages, others came to the refugee camp. Before the cease-fire few people fled. The portering was more severe at that time, but it was not the whole village which was affected. People were taken randomly for portering, and some were even killed for having suspected contact with the rebels. After the cease-fire, however, extortion and forced labour increased, and affected the whole village, so more people fled. Also, because the local military battalions were always changing, it meant that there was constant forced labour and extortion, because one battalion would not care what labour or extortion the village had had to give to the previous battalion.

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202

Ethnicity: Tavoyan

Age/sex: 38, male

Family situation: Married with six children

Occupation: Fisherman

From: Mintha, Yebyu township, Tanintharyi Division

(village had 70 households)

The witness came to the Mon refugee camp three years ago. He had done forced labour on the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway, near Yah Pu. He first did this work one year before he fled to the

camp. He was ordered to do this work by the village head, who was appointed by the villagers. Each household had to produce 80 kyin of rock chippings. No specific time period was given, but it usually took about 15 days to produce this amount. The work site was far from the village, and it took one day to get there by car and boat. He did this work six or seven times, and other members of his family also did it at the same time, so his three youngest children had to be left in the care of his mother. He, his wife and his three eldest children (aged 21, 20 and 17) did the forced labour. There were no soldiers at the work site. The oldest workers were about 60, with some children aged only eight or nine also doing the work. The workers had been told that they would be paid 300 kyat per kyin, but in fact they were never paid. He had to pay money to his mother (100 kyat per day) for food for the three children she looked after while he was away. He also had to pay 300 kyat per day as a fee for the three children who did not go, because the whole village had been ordered to go to the work site. All this money was lost because they were never paid anything for the work. He also had to do portering once in 1994 but he paid 9,000 kyat to hire a substitute. Portering usually lasted ten to 15 days at least. No one from his village he knows of was seriously hurt while portering, but he has seen porters being beaten by soldiers. There was an army camp in his village. The whole village was forced to build the camp about four years ago. He took part in that work. He had to cut bamboo and make sharp spikes for the camp perimeter. He had to do that work for about four periods of three days each. The order to do this work came from the village head. There were about 50 people doing the work at any one time, five or six of whom were from his village. They had to do the whole job of building the army camp from scratch, including levelling the ground, and digging trenches and bunkers. The village did not have to pay extortion money to the army. His village was mostly Tavoyan, but in the whole village-tract the Mon were in a majority. He did not think the situation was much different for the Mon and Tavoyan people in the village-tract.

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203

Ethnicity: Mon/Burmese

Age/sex: 68, male

Family situation: Four (him, wife, two married daughters)

Occupation: Farmer and agent for labourers

From: Ye town, Mon State

The witness organised a group of labourers to work on the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway construction in 1996. This was arranged through the Ward LORC head. A payment of 1,200 kyat per kyin of embankment or rock chippings completed was arranged between him and the authorities (of which he would take a percentage); it was not forced labour, as the workers went to earn money. The embankment had to be completed to the specifications they provided. In some places it was easy (for example, it the ground was easy to dig, and the area was flat), but in other places it was more difficult (for example, when the railway had to be cut into the side of a hill). Also, the workers were responsible for their own equipment, so they often had to replace the cane baskets used to carry the mud. It could sometimes take ten or even 15 days for a person to complete ten kyin. One time he remembers people (officials) coming to the work site to take photos. There were soldiers supervising the workers. They did not hurt the workers, but they did take food from the workers. As well as being the agent for the workers, he also worked himself. He first did 10 kyin of mud embankment, which was very difficult as it was working on the side of a mountain and involved carrying the baskets of mud up ladders to build the embankment. This took him 12 days. He then moved to another part of the construction and did ten kyin of broken rocks. This took six days. He had 216 labourers working under him, but when the time came to be paid, the military refused to pay him. The battalion in charge of the work was IB 106. He tried to come to a deal with the commander, so that the commander could keep 100 kyat per kyin, he would keep 100 kyat per kyin, and 1,000 kyat would go to the workers. The commander refused and finally paid 700 kyat per kyin, saying this was an order and so it had to be accepted. The commander kept the 500 kyat per kyin extra for himself. The 216 workers had by this time completed 486 kyin. After this no one wanted to do the work voluntarily any more, so the soldiers had to go back to using forced labour, as they had before. While he was working in the railway, he saw many

workers at the site. He thinks there were 6,000 or 7,000 people working on the whole stretch that he saw, including women and children. Sometimes the soldiers supervising the work would steal rock chippings from the villagers. They would then sell these rock chippings to other villagers who wanted to pay money to get out of their forced labour assignment. _________________________

 

204

Ethnicity: Mon

Age/sex: 32, male

Family situation: Married with four children

Occupation: Day labourer

From: Tada Pyat, Kya In Seik Gyi township, Kayin State

(village had 60 households)

The witness came to the Mon refugee camp in early 1998. He did forced labour in March/April 1997 on the construction of a road from Kya In Seik Gyi to Taungbauk. This was a new road being constructed across farm land. The construction of this road started in the 1996 dry season. The work was ordered by the soldiers who ordered a meeting of all the villagers to inform them that one person from each house in the village had to go to the work site. They were told that any villager who did not go would be punished. They were told that if a household did not have a male worker, a woman would have to be sent. The work site was a one day walk from the village. When they arrived they had to work for a period of four days. The villagers had to bring their own food. He did this work about five times before the rainy season, when construction halted. Each time he had to work for four days, with a one day walk at either end. About 60 villagers went at a time, of which about 20 were women; there were also about ten children under 15, the youngest about 12 or 13. The work they had to do was to collect large stones, crush them, and lay them on the embankment, with larger stones on the bottom and smaller pieces on top. All the villagers had to do the same kind of work. He saw a total of about 1,000 people working on the road. Each person was assigned a given amount of work to do. They had to start work at 6 a.m. and finished at 6 p.m. Rest times depended on the arrangement made by the village head, with workers usually getting a one hour rest in the middle of the day. No arrangement was made for the workers who had to sleep at the work site; they had to sleep on the ground in the fields around the construction site. There were soldiers at the work site. They did not supervise the actual work as it was the village head who was responsible for this, but they patrolled the work site and checked on the work that was being done. The village also had to provide porters to the military. Six people had to be provided, and these were rotated every three days. The village head was responsible for arranging the rotation. He had to find out where the troops were and send six replacement porters to that place, after which the first six would be released. Sometimes it was difficult to find out where the troops were, so sometimes it was two weeks or even a month before the village head was able to change the porters, especially if the troops were very far away, such as in an offensive against the KNU (the troops could be as far away as Three Pagodas Pass). He himself did portering about ten times since June 1997, for a different period each time, but ranging from three days to nine days. During portering he had to carry ammunition (seven to nine mortar shells). He had to carry them for the whole day, sometimes even at night. There was little rest, especially when the troops were in a hurry. The porters were only provided with a small amount of cold, hard cooked rice and some fish paste. They usually slept in the jungle, but sometimes in a plantation or in a Karen village. If porters were slow they were treated very badly by the soldiers. Once he was portering at the same time as his brother, and his brother was mistreated because he could not walk quickly as he was very tired. The soldiers kicked him with their heavy military boots, punched him, and jabbed him with a knife (the knife blade entered about one inch into his buttocks). After this his brother could not walk properly, and was allowed to walk with no load for one day, but then the next day had to carry his load again. He saw this himself. He was sworn at by the soldiers, but never beaten. He saw many other porters beaten by the soldiers, some of whom were from his village. Soldiers always beat porters who could not work properly; he saw this on every occasion he went portering. No porter was allowed to return home even if they were suffering from exhaustion or illness. He also did portering, less regularly, since he was 14 or 15 years old. At this time the soldiers took porters by coming into a village and rounding them up, so the villagers often fled at this time. Before the Mon cease-fire, portering was much less regular. He did portering a total of about eight times before the cease-fire, but he ran away to avoid being rounded up on many more occasions. In the period after the cease-fire, he did portering on a further eight occasions (not including the ten times since June 1997). Before the cease-fire, when porters were rounded up by the soldiers they were never released and the only way was to run away. The treatment of porters was also worse before the cease-fire. If a porter could not walk quickly he was beaten, but before the cease-fire he would have been shot. He saw the bodies of over 30 dead porters when he was portering before (they had either been shot or beaten to death). His father was seriously injured during portering about ten years ago. It was during an offensive and his shoulders were rubbed to the bone from carrying a heavy load in a cane basket on his back. During offensives, porters were also used as human shields, by being put in front of the troops in dangerous areas. It was like this in every offensive, and hundreds of porters were killed in this way. Porters were liable to be shot if they tried to run away, but they had no choice because they would not be released otherwise. He always ran away; 13 days was the longest he did portering. After the cease-fire, portering was arranged through the village head. It was not then possible to run away, but porters were released when replacements arrived. In the beginning of 1997 his village was forced to build an army camp for IB 32 at Taungbauk village (about one hour walk from his village). One person from each house in the village had to do the work constructing the camp. Villagers also had to bring five small trees and five pieces of bamboo with them for the construction. Owners of bullock carts in the village were also forced to provide their bullock carts for the transportation of construction materials to the camp. During construction of the camp, villagers had to stay at the camp until their work assignment was finished (about two days). About half the workers were women; there were no children. Treatment by the soldiers was not bad. Whenever the soldiers came into the village they asked for rice, chickens or alcohol, which the village had to provide. They sometimes informed the village head what they required, but at other times they just stole what they wanted directly. There were usually about ten soldiers staying in the village (they stayed at the houses of the village head and village secretary), and the village had to feed them. If the soldiers wanted anything, they would just take it. The village head was elected by the villagers, and was sympathetic to their problems, but he had to do as he was ordered to by the military. The situation in some other villages was much worse than in his village, especially when villages were suspected of helping rebels. In these villages there was common torture of the villagers, and rape. Recently, before he went to the camp, there was forced relocation in his area (though not of his village). Other villages in the area had to move to Taungbauk village. The relocation order was issued in October. He heard about the case of one Mon family who did not want relocate, because they had a rubber plantation. this was near Kyauk Kyat village, about 1 hour walk from his village. Because they did not relocate, the family was held at gunpoint while four soldiers raped their daughter in front of them. He heard about this from people in the area who knew the family. The 10 villages which were relocated included Kyauk Kyat, Tha Shay, Ma-U, Klaw Taw Chaung, Kyaik Raung, Tha Ya Gone and Ye Le. Of these, Ma-U and Kyaik Raung were mainly Karen, while the others were mainly Mon. The villages ranged in size from 60 to 200 families each. They were given one month to relocate to Way Tha Li village (which is between Taungbauk and Kya In Seik Kyi, and so under military control) and Taungbauk village (which has an army base). Some villagers moved to the relocation sites, some went to refugee camps, and a few remained secretly in their villages. The battalions he knows of that were involved in the relocations were IB 32, LIB 355 and LIB 356. He decided to go to the refugee camp, because he was a day labourer and had no farm, so had to work every day just to survive. He was unable to do this, however, because of portering, which meant that he could not continue to feed his family. His family, his brother's family, and three other families fled to the refugee camp together. It was mostly the poorer villagers who fled, but the better off villagers (those with farms) generally did not flee. The farm owners in his village were warned that if they allowed rebels to stay in the village, their village would also be relocated. His village and another close-by village were not relocated, because the soldiers wanted to use them as somewhere to stay. The other village was mostly Mon, with some Tai inhabitants also.

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205

Ethnicity: Tai

Age/sex: 41, male

Family situation: Married with four children

Occupation: Labourer

From: Kyaik Raung, Kya In Seik Gyi township, Kayin State

(village had 100 households)

The witness came to the Mon refugee camp in December 1997. He had done portering. He was rounded up by the military and forced to carry things for them. The last time was in September 1997, the first time was when he was about 17. He could not estimate how many times he had been a porter. Sometimes it was as often as twice a month. He usually portered for about ten days at a time, but he was not released by the soldiers after this time, he used to run away. If a porter was caught trying to escape, he would be beaten and then given a heavier load. This happened to him twice. If a porter was slow he would be beaten. This happened a few times to him. Anyone who had the strength to carry a backpack would be taken, from about 13 years old, to old men. Women were not taken. The heaviest load he had to carry was artillery shells; 19 smaller shells, or a smaller number of larger shells. This was so heavy that he was unable to walk properly. The shells also banged against his back when he walked, which caused an injury. Other things he had to carry included rice and other food. The longest period he was away for was 25 days. He did all kinds of portering, including at the front line and in battles. In battles, the porters were put in the middle of the soldiers; he never saw a porter die during a battle. If there was fighting with rebels, the soldiers would go into villages, beat the village head, and burn down the village. The number of porters depended on how many the soldiers could get; sometimes there would be five, sometimes as many as 20. The worst was portering in the rainy season, when sometimes they would get no food for a whole day. The soldiers would normally sleep on a platform above the ground, but the porters would just have to sleep on the mud, which was worse in the rainy season. The porters had to cook for themselves, and for the soldiers as well. If at any time the porters did not carry out orders quickly, or if they were slow when walking, they would be beaten, punched or hit with a rifle butt. Such beatings were very common; he saw this on every trip he went. Several times he saw porters hit on the head so hard that the skull was exposed, and their whole head and face was covered with blood. He had seen porters who were sick and could not continue beaten by the soldiers and then die (from a combination of the beating and the illness); this happened occasionally but not every trip. Sometimes if a porter was sick he could pay the soldiers to be released from further portering (for three days, 200 kyat or the equivalent in chickens). When the soldiers went into a village they would steal whatever they wanted, and sometimes if they saw a beautiful girl, they would grab her by force and kiss her. Once he saw a soldier catch a villager who was suspected of being a rebel and shoot him on the spot. The soldiers also used to grab the village head and hit him. The worst injury he has personally suffered during portering was a blow to the head (with a rifle) which resulted in severe swelling but no permanent damage. Last year, when he was in his village, some soldiers came into his house and stole some of his things and kicked him with their boots. The soldiers would often force villagers, including women, to sleep at the army camp, as a deterrent against possible rebel attacks. He does not know if the women were abused at this time. The last time he did portering (in September 1997) it was arranged through the village head. The village head told him to go for three days' portering, but he was not released for 20 days, because no replacement arrived. His feet were very sore from walking, and he had a fever and headache. He was not allowed to take any rest, and was beaten to make him go faster. The porters were not fed properly, only salt and rice. There was enough rice to fill them up, but nothing else, and so they became weak. The soldiers would steal chickens from villages, but would not give any to the porters. Finally, after 20 days, six replacements arrived, and he was released. He was usually rounded up for portering by the soldiers while he was working in his fields. At these times he would often try to run away, and was sometimes successful. The other villagers would also try to run away. If a villager had money, it was also possible to pay the soldiers to release them so they could avoid portering. If he was looking after his cows when he was grabbed, he would not have a chance to take the cows back to the village. Only twice was portering arranged through the village head. Another time the whole village (including him) had to cut bamboo poles for the construction of a camp for IB 355. Other villages had to do the actual construction, his village just had to provide the bamboo. It was very hard work, and took the village two days of cutting. The bamboo poles had to be very large (he indicated about 30 cm diameter), and 20 cubits long (about 9 metres). He did not do other kinds of forced labour, but other people in his village had to do forced labour on road construction. The road was being built to Three Pagodas Pass. The work started last year in the hot season. Five people from the village had to go for 15 days at a time. Which people from the village had to go was organised by the village head. He left the village before his turn came. The village also had to give food and money to the soldiers once a month. Every month the soldiers would ask for what they wanted; it would be food (such as pork), or money, but usually not both. This had been going on for many years. He came to the refugee camp two months ago, with his family. They came because of the many problems they faced: there was a lot of portering, so they were unable to do their own work; any time they left the village, they were at risk of being grabbed by soldiers for portering. Many other families from his village had come to the camp before him (he knows of about 30).

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206

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 65, male

Family situation: Seven (him, wife, three daughters, two sons)

Occupation: Hill cultivation (dry rice farmer)

From: Methali, Kya In Seik Gyi township, Kayin State

(village had 15 households)

The witness came to the Mon refugee camp in early 1997. His village was relocated during the rice harvest last year to Taungzun village. This was when he came to the refugee camp. Five or six other families fled from the village at the same time. The soldiers gave the village five days to relocate. He did forced labour for the army constructing the road to Three Pagodas Pass. This work started early last year, and the work was continuing when he left. He first did road construction in 1996. At that time the work was close to his village, and the villagers could return to the village to sleep. Because his village was so small, there was no system of rotating labourers. Sometimes one person from each household had to go, sometimes all workers in the whole village had to go. So sometimes he was the only person from his family doing the work, sometimes he worked together with his son. The work they had to do was cutting down trees, building an embankment, and collecting rocks to put on the embankment. They were forced to work from first light to dusk without a break. They had to eat before they started, and again after they finished. If people were tired and could not work the soldiers demanded that they do the same as everyone else, and beat them, slapped them on the face, or kicked them with army boots. One of his sons who also did forced labour was never beaten; the other son was in the KNU and so never did forced labour. He himself was also beaten by the soldiers. He also had to do portering over the last three years. In the beginning portering was arranged through the village head, but later the soldiers just used to come to the village and round people up. He could not count how many times he had done portering. Sometimes it was six times a month if it was just short trips (one or two days). If they had to go to a village a little far away, it could be two weeks. He had to carry loads of 10 viss (about 16 kg), and sometimes up to 20 viss (32 kg) of artillery shells or three tins of rice. There was no problem for porters if they could keep up, but if they were slow they would be beaten. When he was slow, the soldiers would shout at him, saying he was useless, and then kick him. Sometimes this would happen 4 or 5 times a day. He saw other porters beaten unconscious or with heads split open. Sometimes porters who were too sick or weak to continue would be killed and then thrown from the side of the mountain. He saw this happen twice. Some porters were so sick or weak when they were released from portering that they could not even return to the village. Villagers would have to collect them from the side of the road where they had been left, bring them back to the village and nurse them back to health. Twice when he returned to the village after portering he was so weak he could not work, and other villagers had to look after him. Some soldiers were better natured than others. Sometimes the soldiers even wanted to give him water, but they could not because they themselves would be beaten if they were seen doing this. The last time he did portering was for two weeks in April 1997. On this occasion he had to carry six large artillery shells. It was very heavy, but the soldiers told him he was lucky because his load was so light. One day, early in the morning, the SLORC soldiers came to his house and accused him of having a son who was a KNU soldier. One of his sons had in fact been in the KNU, but had already left. The son had got married and lived in Mi Hki village (close to Three Pagodas Pass). In fact his son had been arrested by the SLORC, and had recently escaped, but at the time he did not know this. The soldiers then beat him with a bamboo stick and shouted 'stupid ringworm' ['ringworm' is a slang term used by Tatmadaw soldiers to refer to KNU soldiers]. The soldiers then accused him of being in the KNU and of hiding a weapon, and demanded to know where it was. They hit him many times on the back of the head, shoulders and back, until he was unconscious. His son was now in the refugee camp. After his son escaped he came to his house, but he told his son not to stay there because it was dangerous, so he went to the camp. Before his son escaped, he was tortured, and they cut his ears (but not completely off), and cut part of his lips off.

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207

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 50, male

Family situation: Seven (him, his mother, his wife, four children)

Occupation: Hill cultivation (he was also the village head)

From: Hti Pa Taw Hta, Kya In Seik Gyi township, Kayin State

(village had 20 households)

The witness left his village in September 1997, because he heard it was unsafe for him, so he went and stayed in Kyunchaung village before fleeing to Thailand in January 1998. A friend of his who was a village head in another village warned him that the authorities were asking questions about him, which is why he left his village. The first time Burmese soldiers came to his village they told him to show them the way to Bo Deh village. The second time, he sent one of his villagers instead. At other times, the soldiers did not come to the village to take porters, they just sent an order demanding a certain number of villagers. Usually they asked for two or three porters, but they once demanded ten porters, which was impossible for the village to provide, since the villagers ran away to avoid portering. This was in the 1997 hot season. Porters were badly treated, and one villager was badly beaten. It was up to him as village head to rotate those porters after three days or whenever possible. The third time they came to his village, in April 1997, he was not there. The soldiers arrested all his family and started looking for him. When he arrived home they tied him up, and released his family. They told his family to go back to their house and stay in the house. Then the soldiers took him to a cow shed and tortured him, demanding to know where he kept guns. They punched him in the face and chest and hit him with the barrel of a gun. The leader of the group of soldiers, a captain, accused him of being a rebel. The village secretary came and spoke to the captain, explaining that the village head was simply a farmer, and was not a rebel, but the captain refused to listen and warned the secretary that if he was not careful he would be in trouble too. The soldiers continued to torture him and he suffered a serious cut to the head and internal injuries. The torture included rolling an iron bar repeatedly up and down his shins, putting bullets between each of his fingers and then squeezing them together. They also repeatedly held his head under water in the stream. This torture continued from noon until evening. The next day at noon they began to torture him again. They repeatedly asked him if he had a gun and where it was. They took him to the stream again, put his head under water so his ears filled with water, and then banged their hands together over his ears. Because of this he was now partially deaf. They continued torturing him until he was unconscious, then tied him up and left him in the stream with his head on a tree branch. When he regained consciousness he found himself like this, and saw the soldiers on the bank of the stream waiting for him to recover. On the third day they took him with another man who had also been tortured to Grupadi village. They arrived in the evening and then another column of troops arrived and the commander of that column took the two of them so that they would not be able to run away. At this point he told the other man that they should try to run away, otherwise they would be killed. They were tied up at night to a paddy barn, but when the soldier who was guarding them fell asleep, he managed to untie his hands, and they ran away.

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208

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 54, male

Family situation: 12 (him, wife, ten children of which two still live at home)

Occupation: Village head

From: Thi Paw Way, Kya In Seik Gyi township, Kayin State

(village had 47 households and was established only ten years ago; before this he was in Kya In Seik Gyi town)

The army came in March 1997 and took all the chickens and other animals from the village. The villagers were scared and so said nothing. Also in March 1997 they were ordered to build

an army camp at Ya Kra, five miles away. The camp was for Brigade 44. His village had to provide two porters and one bullock cart all the time for the construction; these were rotated every three days (they would be released only when their replacements arrived). Other villages in the area were also forced to construct the camp, a total of about 40 people at a time. It took about two months to complete the construction. Because he was the village head, he had to go

there almost constantly to supervise his villagers and check on their work. The soldiers were rude to the workers, and swore at them, but they were not beaten. The treatment was much worse during portering. Portering began in March 1997. The village was ordered to provide two people permanently for portering. If these people were not sent, the army would come and arrest people. Also, there were usually two KNU soldiers staying in his village. The soldiers came and made this accusation, but initially he denied it. Then they punched him hard in the kidneys twice. They said that if the two KNU soldiers did not give themselves up, they would kill all the villagers and burn down the village. The soldiers who said this were from LIB 2. The two KNU soldiers had families in the village, and so they gave themselves up. They were not killed, and were in fact released after about 10 days. After this Brigade 44 was replaced by Brigade 22, in April 1997. Later, in September, they forced the village to relocate within 15 days to Bo Deh village, one-and-a-half miles away. The commander said that if the villagers didn't want to go there, he didn't care, as long as they went away. The villagers were

told that anyone seen in the village after this time would be shot. After this, the villagers were allowed to return to their old village during the day, but they had to be back in Bo Deh between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. They did not have to pay money to leave the relocation site during the day. It was Brigade 22 who ordered the village to relocate. After the relocation, Brigade 22 was replaced by LIB 545; they were really bad and very violent. Soldiers from LIB 545 would steal the pigs and chickens from the villagers, and if the villagers complained, they would punch and hit them. The village had to provide three porters for LIB 545, but some villagers didn't dare to go, and paid 1,300 kyat for a three-day period to avoid going. He didn't personally ever go portering, but his son-in-law went about 10 times. The other villagers did a

similar amount of portering to his son-in-law. Treatment during portering was very bad. Porters were punched and had wounds caused by the cane baskets they carried their loads in. He saw porters with their backs split open from the baskets. Portering was continuing in September (when he left). There was a particularly bad incident which happened before the village relocated. Some soldiers came and arrested four villagers (two of the names are U Kyaw Ku and Ngwe Tu). It was a Sunday, and they arrested them after church. The soldiers then held a meeting of the villagers inside the church. The reason they arrested the people was that they had received information that these people had guns. This was not true. Inside the church, they tied the four villagers' hands behind their backs, then beat them up in front of the other villagers. They were kicked, punched and beaten with sticks and a looped rope. Two were injured very seriously. One was unable to open his eyes and the other had chest wounds. The villagers were particularly upset by the fact that the soldiers deliberately chose to do this in a church. Since he was the village head, he tried to offer himself for arrest in place of the four villagers, as a guarantee, but the soldiers refused and threatened to arrest him also. The whole village was then forced by the soldiers to stand in the hot sun, even the children. After this, the four villagers were taken away. One was so badly injured he could not walk, and two other villagers had to carry him. As the village head, he also went along (making a total of seven villagers). They were taken to a nearby army camp where they spent the night. No medical treatment was provided for the injured villagers, except some ointment which did nothing. (One of the villagers, when he was finally released had to be admitted to hospital because of serious injuries). They were all very scared. The next day they were taken to another army camp about six miles away, and they were all beaten by the soldiers on the way. He was hit on the head with a pistol and slapped across the face. Once at the second army camp, they were left tied up for three or four days. They were given rice and fish paste, and had to sleep with their hands tied behind their backs. After this they were released, and one of the villagers had to be sent to the hospital. There were other cases of the army torturing villagers. One person in a nearby village was suspected of having a gun and was hung upside down from a tree and then beaten so that he spun around. Another person was tied up in the river for four days (with his head kept out of the water). A friend of his from another village was put in a hole in the ground because he was accused (wrongly) of having contact with rebels. He was kept in the hole, which was covered over with mud, for four days, but was given food and water. All these cases involved Brigade 44. He left for Thailand in September 1997, when the village was relocated. At least 50 other people came with him.

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209

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 39, male

Family situation: Married with two sons

Occupation: Rice farmer

From: Paw Ner Mu, Kya Inn Seik Gyi township, Kayin State

(village had 100 households)

The witness left Paw Ner Mu village in June 1997, and stayed in other villages in the area until he came to Thailand in August 1997. He did forced labour and portering. The soldiers came in March 1997 and arrested about 40 villagers, lined them up and started interrogating them. They took ten (including him), who they suspected of being rebels to a nearby village,

and interrogated and tortured them all night. The ten were split up and three soldiers beat up each person and interrogated them. They were not all in the same place in the village, they were split up, so he did not see what happened to the others, but he later found out it was the same as what happened to him. He was hit and punched the whole night by the soldiers, even though he kept saying he was not a rebel. At one point they put a gun in his face, between his eyes, and told him they were going to shoot him, but did not. During the beating his shoulder was injured, and he was unable to use his arm afterwards for a month. Seven of them were then sent to another camp, and he and two others were kept at that village. He told the captain that he was just a farmer, was not a rebel, and did not have a gun. Finally, the captain released him and gave him a pass to return to his village. At this time Brigade 44 was posted at an army camp nearby, called Ya Kra. These soldiers did not believe that he was not a rebel, and started making accusations. He told them to ask the village head, and if they wanted to kill him, then kill him, but that he did not have any information to give them about rebels. They were angry with the way that he talked to them, and arrested him and put him in a small (three metre diameter, four metre deep) underground cell for two days and two nights, with only a little light. They gave him a small amount of rice and water. After this they took him out of the cell and kept him in the army camp for one week. He could move around the camp, but was not allowed to leave. Finally his pregnant wife came to the camp and offered to guarantee that he would not leave the village. They were allowed to return to the village, but he could not go outside his house (he was not under guard, but if he had been found outside his house, he would have been in trouble). Three or four days later, Brigade 44 left and was replaced by Brigade 22 (in April). He does not know when Brigade 22 left, but in May he noticed some soldiers who were from Battalion 549. A few months later, LIB 545 arrived. When LIB 545 arrived, the situation became really bad. He needed to obtain a pass from the soldiers to work in his fields. Even though he had this pass, he was seen by some soldiers, who hit him with the butt of a rifle and arrested him, then used him as a porter. He ran away after the first day, and the soldiers shouted after him but did not shoot him. He went back to his village, but a week later (in May/June) the village head called him to go portering. He was given the option of paying 2,000 kyat for the three days portering so he would not have to go, but he did not pay the money. He had to work as a porter on that occasion for 11 days. For these 11 days he had to carry artillery shells or rifle ammunition which was so heavy he could hardly carry it and could not walk properly. There were seven other porters with him from his village. They had to walk for the whole day, only stopping occasionally. He did not know the names of the places they went through. They were fed only a handful of rice per day, sometimes with salt and fish paste.They slept in the jungle or in villages they passed through. The porters had to do exactly what they were told. If they talked, the soldiers would beat them. He was also kicked because he could not walk quickly with his load. When they went through villages, the soldiers would steal things from the villages, and this would be put into the porters' baskets, even though they were already too heavy. After 11 days, the village head sent replacement porters and they were released. Within a week of returning to his village, he was called for portering again, and s o he decided to leave.

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210

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 23, male

Family situation: Single, parents and five brothers

Occupation: Rickshaw driver

From: Myaukma, Uttah township, Bago Division (a military camp was located four kilometres from the village)

The witness left Myanmar five years ago because he was no longer able to do his own work because of the work that had to be done for the military. Ten days a month were reserved for the work required by the military. He returned to Myanmar in June 1997. Three days after arriving home, he was arrested by the military to work on the construction of the airport at Indagaw. He stayed for three days. Fifty people, men and women, worked with him. He then returned home and was arrested once again and incarcerated in a prison camp near Bago. He stayed there for ten days before escaping and getting back to Thailand. He did not know what led to his arrest. He felt the situation had worsened since he first left in 1993. Before leaving, he had to work as a porter and on railway construction. In neither case was he paid. He could not refuse for fear of being arrested and suffering reprisals from the military. He worked as a porter on three or four occasions in 1991 and 1992. Each assignment lasted a day and a half. Five or six other porters from his village went with him out of a total of around 300 to 400 porters on significant military offensives. It was the village head who recruited the porters, though the military could requisition them directly depending on the needs for military operations along the border with Thailand. The porters had to carry munitions and received only a ration of rice morning and night. When there was fighting against the Karen National Union (KNU), the porters had to stay with the soldiers and were often used as human shields.

Two of his friends had been killed. No medical treatment was provided for the porters who had been wounded or were ill. He was beaten for not being able to keep up. It was possible to pay a replacement to do this work, the cost being 1,500 kyat per portering duty. He paid on two occasions. As regards railway construction, he had to work there twice a month, on each occasion for five days. He first did this in 1990 and he last did it just before leaving in 1993. This was on the railway between Yangon and Bago, eight miles from his village. This railway was in operation and was used both by the military and civilians. One person per family had to work on it. The order from the military was passed on by the village head. He did this work on a rota basis with his father and his brother. Men and women were requisitioned to do this work, although when he was working there were only around thirty men aged between 15 and 56 from various villages. He had to sleep on site and take his own food. He had to prepare the ground: digging, levelling ground, transporting and laying rails. A section of the track was assigned to each group, which had the obligation to complete it. The work was supervised by the military. The day began at 5 a.m. and ended at 8 p.m. with no possibility of a break. He was not physically ill-treated.

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211

Ethnicity: Mon

Age/sex: 64, female

Family situation: Married with three sons and three daughters

Occupation: Trader

From: Anin, Thanbyuzayat township, Mon State (village had 1,000 households and a population of around 9,000 people)

The witness had to leave her village in 1995 because her husband was in conflict with the local authorities. She first settled in the village of Natkyizin, Tanintharyi Division. She stayed there until 1995, when she went into exile in Thailand. She personally did not perform forced labour (her husband was village head), but she saw it being done by others. Her business was situated near the railway track between Ye and Dawei (Tavoy). She had seen men and women (including children between the ages of six and 14) working on this railway. They were not paid and had to sleep on the ground. The work was supervised by the military. Moreover, she had witnessed deaths caused by malaria and the bad working conditions. ___________________________

 

212

 

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex 35, male

Family situation: Married with one child

Occupation: Day labourer

From: Unspecified village, Thanbyuzayat township, Mon State

(village-tract had 3,000 households)

The witness had to leave Myanmar in 1996 because he no longer had the means to survive. He had inherited an eight acre rubber plantation from his family. This was confiscated by the military in 1990, to build a military camp. For the next six years, he had to do a great deal of work for the military: portering, railway, military camp work. He had to pay 50 kyat portering charges every month. Moreover, the military requisitioned porters twice a month on average for their military operations against the Mon forces and the Karen National Union (KNU). He acted as a porter on two occasions, the last time in 1994. On the other occasions, he had managed to escape before being taken for portering. On the two occasions when he did work as a porter, the military had apprehended him directly. Three hundred porters were with him on the first occasion, 500 on the second. There were only men in his group. He witnessed many engagements with the Mon forces and the KNU. He saw many porters wounded or ill, but they received no medical treatment or medicines. The last time he worked on the building of the railway was in 1992 for four months. Two to three hundred men and women worked with him, aged between eight and 70. He was not paid and had to bring his own food. He also had to sleep near the work site, without shelter. He was subjected to ill-treatment and abuse, as were several other workers whose work did not satisfy the military. In 1993, the military demanded the sum of 3,000 kyat from him as a tax for the railway which each household had to pay. In addition, each household in his village-tract had to pay 500 kyat not to have to perform various types of work at the military camp. Since 1992, he had paid on three occasions. However, his father-in-law had done work for the military camp in 1992.

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213

Ethnicity: Rakhine

Age/sex: 24, male

Family situation: Married with no children

Occupation: Student

From: Mahamuni, Kyauktaw township, Rakhine State

The witness had to leave Myanmar in 1996 because he could no longer provide for the needs of his family. He had around seven days a month left to attend do his own work, with the rest of his time being taken up with the various types of work exacted by the military. He worked for the military camp near his village and on the building of roads and pagodas. The military camp belonged to LIB 376. He worked on the construction of the road leading to the camp and the building of barracks. He had not done portering for military operations. So far as road work was concerned, he worked on the building of the road between Kyauktaw and Paletwa between 1991 and 1995. It was the village head who passed on the orders from the military. This was mainly preparatory, ground-levelling work. He had to work two days a week on this road. One hundred other people worked with him on this section of road, including men and women aged between 13 and 50. They had to sleep near the road and bring their own food. This work forced him to miss school. The work was supervised by the military. He also worked on the building and renovation of pagodas between 1991 and 1995. He had to do this work twice a month for one day on each occasion. Three hundred people worked with him, including men and women aged between 13 and 50. The orders were also passed on by the village head and the work was supervised by the military. He was subjected to ill-treatment by the military when they believed he was not working fast enough.

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214

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 32, male

Family situation: Single with no children; five siblings, father deceased

Occupation: Trader

From: Wakema town, Ayeyarwady Division

The witness had to leave Myanmar in July 1996 because he could no longer survive. Among other things, the military forced him to sell his goods at far below market prices. He also had to work on road construction. He did not have to do portering, as he managed to escape each time the military attempted to requisition him. He worked on two occasions in 1995 - for two

months each time - on the building of a road between Pantanaw and Einme. It was the village head who passed on to him the orders given by the military. As the road was some fifteen hours from his home, to get to the site he had to walk part of the way and travel the rest by boat. Two to three hundred people worked with him on this section of road, including men

and women from different villages. Women were sometimes accompanied by their young infants. When the men could not do this work, the women replaced them. Each family had to provide one worker on the basis of a pre-arranged rota. The work consisted of levelling ground. He was not paid. It was possible to pay the soldiers so that they would engage a substitute in one's place. However, the money paid to the soldiers was seldom used for this purpose and the workload consequently increased proportionately for the remaining workers. The cost of hiring a replacement was 3,000 kyat for each 15-day assignment. His family paid it several times. If the soldiers thought the work was not going fast enough, the workers were punished, mainly by being kept in the sun with their feet in chains. He also saw beatings inflicted by the soldiers.

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215

 

Age/sex: 37, male

Family situation: Single

Ethnicity: Karen

Occupation: Farmer and day labourer

From: Kawkareik town, Kayin State (later lived in Yangon)

The witness left Myanmar in 1996. He was a former soldier who left the army in 1983 after six years of service, following a conflict with his superior. He personally recruited the necessary porters to conduct military offensives during that period. When the porters tried to escape, his orders were to shoot them, which he did on several occasions. He subsequently lived at Yangon, where he had to do community work every Saturday. It was his ward head who informed him of the work to be done.

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216

 

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 37, male

From: Thapancho, Pyay (Prome) township, Bago Division

The witness joined the army in 1979. He personally recruited porters. He found the work difficult because he very often knew the people he had to requisition for this work. He left

the army after shooting at his superior officer following an argument. As a result, he was imprisoned for three years and was freed in July 1984. He subsequently acted as a porter for

the military on one occasion in the cold season of 1986. He was requisitioned with 50 others while travelling on a train between Mawlamyine (Moulmein) and Bilin. He had to transport ammunition and shells for the military offensive, together with food and wounded soldiers. He was not paid. The rice rations were distributed morning and evening. There were no shelters to sleep in. He was sent to the front line after the first week. After that, he had to cross very high mountains and go to another front line near Mawhpoklo in Kayin State. He had to dig trenches and build huts for the military. He stayed there for three months. He had to check the state of the mines laid by the military each day. No medical treatment was given to sick or wounded porters. There were no medicines available either. Finally, he decided to leave Myanmar in June 1988.

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217

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 32, male

Family situation: Single, no children

Occupation: Surveyor and trader

From: Maletto, Ma-u-bin township, Ayeyarwady Division

(village had 4,000 families)

The witness did not have to work for the military when he was a civil service surveyor. He was required to do such labour once he had resigned his functions. He had to work on the

building of a road and a canal. The 15 foot-deep canal linked Ma-u-bin to Twantay over a distance of 16 miles. He knew this canal well since he worked on the plans as a surveyor. He worked on its construction on two occasions, the first time for three months, the second for one-and-a-half months. The work consisted, on the first occasion, of digging the tunnel and, on the second, of repairing what had collapsed during the rainy season. In the years 1993 to 1994, he worked on several occasions on the building of the road between Ma-u-bin and Twantay and the one linking Ma-u-bin and Yangon. He had to work on it at all times of the year. These were important roads, four cars wide. As the terrain on which these roads were built was lower than sea level, embankment work was needed. The work began at 6 a.m. in the morning and ended after sunset. He said 5,000 people had worked on it in 1991 to 1992 and 10,000 in 1993 to 1994, including both men and women aged between 13 and 60. The women were often accompanied by their young infants. They were not paid and had to sleep near the road. The working conditions were bad and several people died as a result of complications ensuing from hunger, malaria or other infectious diseases. If the workers fell behind, they were beaten. He had not personally been beaten. The roads were now finished, but were not really useful and could only be used in the dry season. It was possible to pay to be exempted from working, the sum being 3,000 kyat for the canal and 5,000 kyat for the roads. He paid on one occasion for the canal and twice for the roads. From 1994 to 1996, he was a trader. However, he was forced to clean at Mandalay palace and to do general cleaning work every Saturday in that city. One person per family was requisitioned in this respect. He decided to leave Myanmar in June 1996.

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218

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 25, male

Occupation: Student

From: Mawlamyine (Moulmein) town, Mon State

The witness left Myanmar in 1987. He returned home following the 1988 uprising. After his return to Myanmar he was arrested by members of IB 208 while travelling with others. He was

taken to the Kya In Seik Gyi military camp where he stayed for three days. He subsequently had to carry shells, food and clothing for the soldiers in a military operation against the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF). Fifteen other porters were with him. Nine were killed by the military because they were not able to carry the load allotted to them. He went back to the camp. He was requisitioned to do portering on a second military operation. One hundred porters accompanied the soldiers this time. He managed to escape. All these events took place over a period of one month.

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219

 

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 24, male

Family situation: Single

Occupation: Farmer (rice paddies); his brother is looking after his land

From: Kawet Yekanchaung, Dedaye township, Ayeyarwady Division

The witness left Myanmar because he could no longer manage to survive, particularly because he had to sell his produce to the Government at well below market prices. On four occasions

in 1994 and 1995, he had to work on the building of a canal between Pyapon and Dedaye. It was the village head who passed on the orders, which came from the military. The 700 families in his village each had to provide one member to perform this work. He worked in rotation with his brother. His brother had worked there eight times. Ninety-three villages worked on this canal. Each village was assigned a section, which it had to complete. Three hundred and fifty people worked at the same time as him, including both men and women, the youngest of

whom were ten years old. Some women were accompanied by their young infants. Each assignment lasted a fortnight. The work consisted of digging the ground and levelling the terrain. He was not paid and he had to sleep near the site. He also had to take his own food. It was possible to pay for a substitute, the price being 1,500 kyat. He paid on two occasions. The workers were frequently maltreated without reason. He saw workers left in the sun, with their feet immobilized in stocks for two to three days. He had never personally been

ill-treated.

___________________________

 

220 to 228

 

Ethnicity: Mon

Age/sex: 220: 63, male; 221: 63, female; 222: 23, male; 223: 40, male; 224: 30, male; 225: 44, male; 226: 14, male; 227: 30, male; 228: 19, male

Occupation: Witness 220 was a village head, witness 221 was a monk

From: Anin village, Thanbyuzayat township, Mon State (except witness 228 who was from Chabone village, Yebyu township, Tanintharyi Division)

Witness 220 and his wife, witness 221, came to Thailand over two years ago. Before that they stayed for about three years in Ye Bu (but often went back to Anin village). They left because they could not afford to pay porter fees and contributions to the SLORC and the People's Militia (Pyithu Sit), to whom the Government provided weapons, while the villagers had to provide food and accommodation. Before they left for Ye Bu (five or six years ago), there were 700 households in A Anin village. From their extended family, all five households had moved. From the extended family of witness 223, six households had left the same village. When he and his wife, after two years' stay in Thailand, returned briefly to the village at the beginning of this year, only some houses remained. Witness 228 testified that his village of about 70 houses, Chabone, was relocated last year, whereupon most inhabitants came to Thailand. Witness 220 was a member of the Local Council of Anin village for four years before the SLORC was set up on 18 September 1988 and became village head one-and-a-half years later. Two to three years after the SLORC was set up on 18 September 1988, forced labour, which had before been limited to portering, expanded in Anin village, taking the following forms: building barracks for soldiers; later, building the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway; building the road from Thanbyuzayat to Anin; portering; sentry duty to watch the railway; whatever the soldiers wanted around the village (roofing for the police station, digging trenches, cleaning up the village, barracks, and police station, repairing barracks, and during the rainy season, collecting leaves for roofing). The organizational setup of forced labour was as follows. For portering: since 1990 people were always rounded up, i.e., the soldiers arrested them themselves. In earlier cases as well as for all other kinds of work or service, the military sent a letter to the village head, stating for example that they were going to take 40 or 50 people to some other site for this or that purpose. The number of people depended on the job to be done. To choose the people who had to go, there were about 40 sub-leaders in the village, in charge of 20 houses each. When the village head received the order, he told them to provide people (sometimes in rotation). For building barracks the order came from IB 31, for building the railway and guarding it, from IB 104. As for threats of what would happen if people did not turn up, they would not be included in the letter, but conveyed orally when handing over the letter, indicating that work had to be performed according to rules and, if the order was disobeyed, the village head would be arrested, as well as the villagers. For those who could not go, 2,500 kyat had to be paid per household per stint (not per day). For building new military barracks, the work lasted about one month; for repairing old ones, seven days. Since the site was close to the village, people could return home at night. They had to work from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., bringing their own food and feeding the soldiers. From the age of 12 upwards, men and women worked, up to 50 or 60 years old. Children and old people worked when they were the only persons free in the household. Soldiers did not beat people building the barracks, but shouted at them and scared them. The Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway construction started around 1993 (and was still going on). About 700 people from Anin village worked on this, separated in two groups of 350 people taking turns of 14 days each working on the project. The workers were selected through the approximately 40 sub-leaders, each of which was in charge of about 20 households and had to bring 20 people with him; if he could not, he had to pay a fine of 2,500 kyat per person for two weeks, collect the money from the household concerned and give it to the soldiers. It was a six-hour train ride to the work site near Kalot village. Normally, the workers slept in the jungle and built themselves small shelters and also had to cook themselves. The work assignment was by segment of the track to be build, and people had to work each day until they finished their quota. The military gave orders directly to the sub-leaders for the work to be done by each group; if they did not comply, they would be punished. Women, children from age 12, and people up to 50 or 60 years also had to work. For Anin villagers, there was normally no ill-treatment, but villagers from other places who disobeyed orders were beaten by soldiers. Every day, eight people from the village had to be on sentry duty to watch the railway. Finally, with regard to portering, this practice existed even before 1988 but increased after the SLORC was set up. Up to 1990, porters were either rounded up directly by the soldiers or the village head was ordered to find them. For portering they could call up any number of people, as required, at least 40 people at one time. When fighting was heavy at the border, they took everybody. Troops kept marching to the border or close to it, and on average once a month (sometimes twice a month or once in two months) they took porters for 20 to 30 days (some people for one to two months, some for only ten days). Some porters never came back, they died or escaped, so nobody wanted to go, and when the military ordered the village head to find 100 porters or pay money instead, the men ran away, only women and children stayed. Around 1990, the village head told the military he did not want to be responsible for collecting porters anymore, and he asked them to arrange for it themselves. Subsequently, whenever the villagers were informed that forces were coming, they went into hiding. Witness 225 was rounded up for portering with about 200 other people, including three from their village, in 1990/91. The military took him for one month to Kalama mountain. They had to carry peas, rice, other food: about 80 kg between two porters. When a porter was tired, the soldiers would kick him with their boots. In some situations, such as when a porter was sick and could not carry his load anymore, they would shoot him dead. Witness 225 saw almost ten out of about 200 people shot dead. About 15 to 20 people were kicked, and some seriously injured. Normally, the soldiers did not care for those who could not move, they just shot them. The porters sustained wounds from the heavy loads, normally on the shoulders. Witness 225 was sick, coughed blood. The porters never got medical treatment, normally treated themselves. They were not allowed to smoke, were given only raw rice and some banana leaves and were not allowed to cook. Witness 225 was sent to Kawkareik (with about 1,000 people on a ship) when he was released. Witness 222 did portering around 1993/94 for IB 109, carrying supplies (in his case about 40 kg of rice) to Nat Ein Taung near the gas pipeline project. He was sent by the village for portering, because it was his turn, with about seven or eight others from the village. On the whole, there were about 7,000 people. But those who could afford to pay 1,000 kyat were released, some paid, so finally 300 went. He was away for about ten days from the village, it took them six days to Nat Ein Taung. On the way, there was fighting, two

porters were wounded, and soldiers shot them dead because they could not carry their loads anymore. One soldier was in charge of five porters (in case they ran away, etc.), some escaped

and were shot at. He did not see this personally. If a porter managed to run away, the soldier was punished. He saw one officer punching, hitting a soldier with a gun because a porter escaped. From Nat Ein Taung, he had to carry the soldiers' household goods back. On the way back, he saw about 15 dead bodies, mainly porters, some killed from gun shots, beatings, etc. When fighting was on, the soldiers ordered the porters to lie down. Witness 222 was never beaten, but some porters were who could not carry their loads well. He did, however, see some old people who could not carry their loads being relieved of weight. The porters were given a small amount of rice and fish paste to eat. Witness 226, who left Myanmar three years ago when he was 11 years old, had not done any forced labour. __________________________

229

 

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 30, female

Family: Mother and three sisters

Occupation: Food seller

From: Ye town, Mon State

The witness came to Thailand in 1997 because it was difficult to survive in Burma. In Ye town, men were very scared, many men went to Thailand. The Myanmar authorities asked her family to supply forced labour, one member of the family had to go, and since all the members of the household were female and could not go, they had to pay money instead; in the middle of 1996, they had to pay 3,000 kyat. One of her relatives worked from 1995 until the end of 1996 for Government engineers as a labour contractor for work on the railway line at Koe Mine village (nine miles from Ye). The contractor got paid for hiring people to do a fixed amount of work. He had to go around the area to find about 100 people, to whom he paid

around 180 kyat a day. He had to collect the workers and take them back. Sometimes, those paid voluntary workers worked alongside other people doing forced labour (although normally, they worked on different sections), and sometimes the soldiers took away some of the contractor's workers for portering. In Ye town (and the rest of the township), each household had to supply one member for work along the railway line; normally, the contractor was employing skilled workers for engineering work, building bridges, while the forced labourers were doing rough work. There were also prisoners used for digging and

breaking rocks. There were many forced labourers working on the railway construction site in rotation. Each town and village was allocated a quota of the work; if it had a bigger population and was closer to the railway, this could be completed in five days, if not, maybe in 10 days. The frequency depended on the place where one lived. In the middle of Ye town, people were well connected and went only twice in eight months; a little further from downtown, people were poorer and went more often, about four times in eight months. Until now, her family had to pay around 80 to 90 kyat monthly; a bit further from downtown, the rate was 90 kyat. People in town were arrested for portering and were afraid to open their

doors. If one could afford to pay 5,000 to 10,000 kyat, one could pay to be exempted (in Ye). Those far from Ye could not. In her family, they had one car; sometimes this was requisitioned, with driver, for three to four days by the military, who promised to supply petrol, but never gave it. When people were taken for portering, those who could escape

came back fast, others were away for three to six months. Portering started long ago. All ethnic groups in Ye were treated the same, but around the edge of the town, villages were mostly Mon and Karen. Some of her relatives had to go as porters and suffered hardship, they were not treated like soldiers and were ill fed. One younger cousin who had been selected for portering in a "lottery", had been a porter for three months. He was then able to find a replacement at some village. When the porters were tired, they were beaten, sometimes deprived of rice. In fighting, they lacked training and could be wounded; also, those who were sick and could not carry their loads anymore were shot. Her cousin was beaten, but did not sustain injuries.

__________________________

 

230

 

Religion: Muslim

Age/sex: 45, male

Family situation: Married with four children

Occupation: Seller of cold drinks

From: Mawlamyine (Moulmein) town, Mon State

The witness had personal experience of forced labour only from before he left the country following the 1988 events. His family members who stayed behind had to go once a week for a whole day's work at Mawlamyine (Moulmein) airport, clearing the ground, cutting the grass. If they could not go, they had to pay 300 kyat. The order came from the district authorities through the village head. Alternatively, they sometimes had to do road maintenance, filling holes, cutting grass on a small road in town, once a week about three times a month, sometimes for half a day, sometimes a full day. They normally paid 300 kyat and did not go. They also had to pay "porter fees", 300 kyat at least twice a month. Sometimes, when a visitor came and registered in their home, they were charged 50 kyat, and also occasionally for a big event, the military collected money. He showed a receipt dated 27 June 1990 for 10,000 kyat for the repair of roads, clearing, reconstruction (to be paid by business owners, not in lieu of labour).

___________________________

 

231

 

Religion: Buddhist

Age/sex: 36, male

Family: Married with one child

From: Kyaukphyu town, Rakhine State

The witness first left Myanmar ten years ago. When he went back to Kyaukphyu for three months in 1995, he did forced labour on the road from Minbu (Magway Division) to Taunggok (Rakhine State) through Ann, a four-year project started in 1993. The work had been allotted in quota by area and 600 to 700 people from the area around Kyaukphyu worked there. By order of the District LORC, every household had to send a worker. During the three months that he went back he lived with his parents, and the family was called up four times for

ten days' work each tie. He went alone for the family, three times working ten days; the other time he was exempted from ten days' work by paying 150 kyat a day (1,500 kyat) to the village head. He had to walk four hours to the construction site, bringing his own food for ten days, and stayed there the whole period, working from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a lunch break, and sleeping in the open. There were soldiers as guards, but no beatings, only at some other sites. He did no other forced labour in those three months, and there were no "porter fees" in Rakhine State. A majority of the Rakhines had joined the army and left them alone, did not oppress them.

___________________________

 

232

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 31, male

Family situation: Married with two children

From: Kaw Tot, near Ye Town, Mon State (he originally came from Yangon) (village had about 2,000 households)

The witness first left Myanmar in 1991 but went back for about a month in November 1997. In Kaw Tot village, his wife and her three married sisters stayed with their children (and husbands) all together as one big household (thus reducing the forced labour burden). The head of the village wanted to separate them into different households; in November 1997, he

came and asked some family members to do forced labour for cutting bushes along the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway for one day. They paid money to be exempted at the rate of 150 to 200 kyat for one day, paying only once for the whole household. They also had to give "porter fees", 700 kyat per month, directly to the military. They were charged four times 700 kyat for one month because the military would not accept their being counted as a single household.

__________________________

 

233

From: Taungpone, Ye township, Mon State

(village had 4,000 households)

Ethnicity: Mon

Age/sex: 34, male

Family situation: Married with one child

The witness came to Thailand almost ten years ago and often tried to go back but could not go; because of a shortage of men, he would be taken to a forced labour site. His wife, who

went back six months ago (she keeps going and coming) had done forced labour in the last six months. Women had to clear the bush near a bridge twice a month for a whole day to prevent an ambush by insurgents. Men were sent to Dawei (Tavoy), for the gas pipeline and/or railway projects. He knew this because fifty days ago, his wife phoned him not to come for the moment, since they were taking the men for about one month. Some women had to fill rocks for the railway; his wife, too, had to go twice a month, either clearing the bush or filling rock. Since the husband was not there, she had to go (or pay). One also had to pay porter fees, monthly, at a rate depending on one's wealth; an ordinary worker paid 700 kyat a month,

someone owning land or a cow, 1,500 kyat.

__________________________

 

234 and 235

Ethnicity: Mon (both)

Age/sex: 35 and 25, both male

Family situation: Both single

Occupation: Both workers on railway construction

From: Ye town, Mon State (witness 234); Sakaya, Ye township, Mon State (witness 235)

Both witnesses were hired through an acquaintance working as a contractor, to work as manual workers (sometimes driving a vehicle) on the construction of the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway, which started in 1992. They both paid 1,000 kyat to the person in charge at the railways (not the contractor) to get the job, and were promised a pay of 100 kyat a day as Government employees, but were never paid. After six months of work on the railway without being paid (in 1995 to 1996) they left, together with four others in the same situation. While working on the railway they saw forced labour on the construction site. As for forced labour done by themselves, in 1995 and 1996 they were told by the local LORC to go and dig drainage trenches in Ye town without pay, on average once a week or three times a month, for one or two days, especially in the dry season; they had to work from 7.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. If there was rain, they stopped. Altogether there were about 600 people from many different places. Witness 234 once was a porter, before getting the job at the railway construction, he does not remember when, for about 15 days. Soldiers arrested him on a visit to Mawlamyine (Moulmein) town and sent him by truck to Three Pagodas Pass. They arrested so many people, about 10 to 15 trucks full. They were not tied, but guarded. He then had to carry two packs of bullets, each weighing about 20 kg. He was unpaid and given sometimes a little rice, sometimes no food at all. He saw others who could not carry very heavy loads being beaten, but not killed; some were injured in the back from the beatings. He did not see anybody left on the road side. After 15 days, he was released at Three Pagodas Pass and it took him six days to return home. Afterwards, when employed on the railway construction site, both witnesses had to pay porter fees, around 600 kyat a month each.

__________________________

 

236

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 44, male

Family situation: Married with five children

Occupation: Making fishing nets

From: Setse, Thanbyuzayat township, Mon State

(village had about 1,000 households)

The witness came to Thailand in 1993 because he had to do forced labour and pay porter fees he could not afford anymore. He had no time to work for his family. By order of the local

authorities, he had to go once or twice a week clearing bush or doing sentry duty, together with 80 to 100 people from the village. Soldiers guarded them and would just shout at them, not beat them. If one did not want to go, the soldiers would find the person; if one could not go, one had to pay a fine, between 300 and 500 kyat, depending on the distance of the work site from the village. Four or five days a month, all year round, one person per household also had to go and do repair work on the Thanbyuzayat-Setse road. About 80 to 100 people at a time had to go, organised by eight to 10 sub-leaders responsible for 10 households. The forced labour rotated, the next time it would fall on another village/area. Government workers were not taken. Other people who did not want to go had to pay a fine, in 1990 to 1993 the rate for one day was 300 to 500 kyat. He was also charged porter fees, a regular rate of 200 kyat per month plus 300 to 400 kyat for "emergency portering" at least once, sometimes twice a month. He actually went portering once, arrested by soldiers from IB 26 around 1985 to 1986 to carry heavy bullets to Three Pagodas Pass for two months; then he escaped. He was beaten because with his heavy load, he could not go very fast when told to run because of fighting. He was not paid and provided only some rice to eat. He saw porters being killed by soldiers, including one man who could not walk fast and also was wounded in the shoulder. The soldiers tied him up with a longyi, tied his neck, kicked him with their boots, and strangled him to death with the longyi. He also saw two porters carrying a battery, who wanted to take a rest, being told by a soldier from IB 26 "you better rest for the rest of your lives", and pushed from a cliff. He had seen about 60 porters die out of 108 who were there initially. When people could not carry their loads anymore, they were kicked with boots and died. All 60 porters were killed by Government soldiers, none by enemy fire. Therefore, he always paid porter fees after this as he did not want to go portering, and finally came to Thailand. After he left, his family had to work on the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway construction. They had to go only once a year for 20 days (from their village).

_________________________

 

237

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 35, male

Family: Married with two children

Occupation: Driver of a small boat (rented from someone else) for transporting 25 to 30 people

From: Kawthaung town, Tanintharyi Division

The witness left Myanmar five years ago because the authorities requisitioned his boat, to transport them for free, so he had not enough money to pay the boat owner his fee of 150 baht a day. He was thus called up regularly twice a month for a whole day and had to pay the petrol and go with them. In addition to this, he had to go another three or four times a month for so-called emergencies. He normally had to carry to the sea all kinds of authorities, the police,

immigration authorities, soldiers with bullets. For "emergencies", he had to carry sometimes food or people to some islands close to Kawthaung, or wait; an "emergency" thus occurred normally because the military, police or immigration authorities, all of which had the authority to requisition him with the boat, wanted to go to some island, without giving a reason. It was never for taking people to hospital or otherwise assisting people in danger. In addition, every

Saturday one person from each household had to go for "donated labour", clearing the town, drainage trenches, etc. If one did not go, one had to pay 200 kyat. Normally, he paid rather than sending someone from his family. In his area, no "porter fees" were levied. One only paid a fire fighters' fee of 50 kyat per month. The money went to the fire fighters office, although

they got a salary already and there was no fire.

__________________________

 

238

 

Ethnicity: Mon

Age/sex: 20, male

Family situation: Parents and four siblings

Education: 7th Standard

From: Zathabyin, Hpa-an township, Kayin State

The witness left Myanmar four years ago because of portering and other forced labour. At about age 15, when in 6th Standard (in middle school), he was arrested on a visit to Kyondo, near Kawkareik. At a police checkpoint, he was taken from a bus on which he travelled with only three other persons (the driver, his assistant and a former soldier) and put in a small jail behind the checkpoint. The military had ordered the police to get some men for portering and keep them until they came to get them. He was the first put in, then the police went to search another car and fetch someone, and at that time he escaped. There were no regular monthly "porter fees" to be paid by his family, only "emergency" porter fees on an irregular basis. When the authorities called up porters, one had to pay about 1,000 kyat to avoid going; this occurred about once a month in his household. All households had to contribute labour, one household had to do one trench, it took normally five days, once every three to four months. The order came from the local authorities. One could go home in the evenings. In 1997 (when he went back for two months to his village), he worked twice for 15 days carrying stones, filling the ground for building a bridge from their village to the road from Zathabyin to Mawlamyine (Moulmein). One member from every household had to go.

__________________________

 

239 and 240

Ethnicity: Both Mon

Age/sex: Witness 239: 26, female; witness 240: 18, female

Family situation: Now both married; before in the village, witness 239 was in a household with her two very old parents and four siblings; witness 240 was in a household with her grandmother, mother and her younger

brother

Education: Witness 239: 4th Standard; witness 240: 7th Standard

Occupation: Witness 239: catching and selling fish

From: Zathabyin, Hpa-an township, Kayin State

Both witnesses had done forced labour themselves, witness 239 since age 13. Witness 239 left Myanmar about one year ago; witness 240 left two years ago. Witness 240 stated that, for

building the road from Zathabyin to Hpa-an, every family had to provide a person for four to six days about three times in every two months. It turned out four days if one was in a big group, six days if one had been allotted a big share of the work; that depended on the village head. Witness 240 went twice. The other times they were called up her family paid money instead of going: 1,000 to 2,000 kyat for four to six days. When she went, she stayed on the work site if it was far from the village; once she slept there, the other time she came back in the evenings. They had to bring their own food and working tools. Witness 239 confirmed this. She had done that work countless times since she was 13 years old, because her family could not afford to pay, and her parents were very old. Sometimes she had to go twice in one month. Witness 240 stated that there were soldiers who normally came and gave instructions to finish the work; when they walked away, the workers relaxed. There was no sexual harassment. Witness 239 indicated that, when a leader from Hpa-an came, they had to clean the road, etc. one day before. This happened about twice or three times a month, for a full day (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Witness 240 added that she too normally went herself for this type of work (while her family tended to pay instead of sending her to the road building work). Porter fees had to be given normally once a month, sometimes, for "emergency portering", a second time. The rate depended on wealth, for witness 239's family it was about 300 kyat, for witness 240's about 600 kyat.

__________________________

 

241

Ethnicity: Burman

Age/sex: 24, female

Family situation: Six (lived with her parents)

Occupation: Fishing

From: Myeik (Mergui) town, Tanintharyi Division

The witness left Myanmar in January 1997. Her younger brother was arrested in 1994/95 on the way from a village near Myeik (Mergui) to the town. He was taken to Netaye Taung with two people from the village. The younger brother fell sick while portering, and the two others reported the soldiers left him sick in the jungle. They escaped later, looked for him, and found him already dead. She herself had done no forced labour. In her family, others had to go very often. Normally, her younger brother who died went at least three times a month, sometimes for a whole month, to far away places, from age 16 on. He was the only man in the family, apart from their very old father.

__________________________

 

242

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 21, female

Family situation: Five (her, parents and two sisters)

From: Hpa-an town, Kayin State (lived since 1979 in KNU-controlled areas of Kayin State)

(This is a summary of the testimony provided by "Wa Wa" at the Commission's Second Session in Geneva.)

In her capacity as Women's and Children's Officer of the FTUB, she interviewed refugees who had done forced labour. She did interviews for three months, starting in April 1996. The people she interviewed had done road construction (Nabu to Dawlan, Nabu to Kawkareik and Nabu to Kyondo). Nabu was a Muslim village, and was relocated when the army moved in during 1995. Some of the villagers had to travel far from their villages to do this forced labour, and had to stay at the work sites. Women and children as young as 10 or 12 also had to do this work, as well as people who were 50 or 60 years old. The villagers could only rest for one hour during the day. The villagers had to provide their own food, firewood and cooking equipment. Some villagers died from illness. Some were beaten by the soldiers. One old man (over 60) died of exhaustion. One girl was killed in a work accident (landslide); her family received no compensation. If a villager could not go for forced labour, they had to hire a replacement which could cost between 200 kyat and 1,000 kyat. Villagers she interviewed also talked about having to do portering. People she interviewed said that they were forced to sign a blank piece of paper by the army, and then they had their land confiscated without compensation. None of the villagers had cars; the roads were for military use. Orders for forced labour and portering were given by the army through the village head.

_________________________

 

 

243

 

From: Yangon

Ethnicity: Karen

Sex: Male

(This is a summary of the testimony provided by "Min Lwin" at the Commission's Second Session in Geneva.)

The witness left Yangon in 1982, and went to work in a cement factory in Thayet in central Burma. He left the cement factory during the uprising in 1988, and went to the KNU-controlled area near the Thai border. There he worked in the mechanical maintenance department of the KNU. While in that area, he talked to people who had escaped from being porters for the SLORC. They told him they had had to carry loads of between 20 and 45 kg. They had to go with the soldiers to the front line during offensives. During fighting they had to keep the soldiers supplied with ammunition. They also had to dig trenches and fetch water for the soldiers. These porters had been arrested in cinemas or rounded up from the road. Porters

were beaten if they were slow. After working with the KNU, he worked for the FTUB as secretary of the human rights and workers' rights department. He prepared human rights documentation. He interviewed many refugees (70 or 80) about their reasons for leaving Myanmar. The last people he interviewed was on 24 October 1997. Most of the people left

because of forced labour and confiscation of their property by the army. Forced labour included work constructing roads and working in army-owned plantations. There was also forced logging work (Lahu people from the region near Mong Hsat in Shan State did this). People from Hmawbyi in Yangon Division had done work on a road in Hmawbyi township. Other people had done forced work on irrigation projects in Yangon Division. He interviewed a prisoner who had to work at the Kalaymyo power station, and at a quarry in Kabaw. People from Kayin State had told him about forced labour at brick kilns owned by the army (battalions 547, 548 and 549), and on army plantations. They had also done work constructing roads between Hpa-an, Myawady and Mawlamyine (Moulmein), as well as constructing army camps. If the work site was far from their village, people had to sleep there. No shelter was provided. If a person could not go, they had to hire someone to go in their place. People from

Ayeyarwady Division also told him they had to do forced labour building a fish farm, and constructing a bridge in Myaungmya. He also interviewed people who had done forced labour at a quarry near Kyaukkyi (Bago Division). He had also acted as interpreter for an interview with people who had done forced labour on the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway construction. Orders were usually given to the village head by the army. In large villages, the village head was appointed by the military, in small villages the villagers chose themselves. In the villages

where the villagers chose their own village head, the position was usually rotated between villagers. This was because the village head was responsible for what went on in the village,

and so was often punished by the soldiers. Because of this, no one wanted to be village head so it rotated. Often women were chosen because the villagers thought that the soldiers would

treat them less harshly. The position often rotated as often as every two weeks. People who had done forced labour also told him about punishments given by the soldiers during forced labour. Many people were beaten for not working hard, and one woman who was pregnant was punished by being told to do repeated forward rolls on the ground. As a result, she miscarried.

__________________________

 

244

 

Ethnicity: Karen

Age/sex: 14, female

Education: None

Family situation: Seven (her, parents, two older sisters and two younger brothers)

Occupation: Parents were farmers

From: Naw Khee, Kawkareik township, Kayin State

(village had 40 households)

(This is a summary of the testimony provided by "Naw Mu" at the Commission's Second Session in Geneva.)

The witness first did forced labour when she was ten or 11 years old. She was the only person in her family who was available to do forced labour, so she had to go. The villagers were told by the village head to provide one worker from each household. Her mother was sick, and her father and older sister were away from the village working. The first place she worked was T'Nay Cha (Nabu), which was a half-day walk from her village. She went with other people from her village. She had to build an embankment for a road from T'Nay Cha (Nabu) to Kawkareik. They had to work from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a one-hour break at noon. The work was very hard, and they were not allowed to rest by the soldiers. They had to go for three days at a time, and sleep at the work site. No payment, food or shelter was provided. If they made mistakes during the work, they would be beaten by the soldiers. She was never beaten. There were other children the same age as her at the work site, and also old people. Some people were very old. She had to do this work several times. At other times, other members of her family did it. The family had to provide a worker three times a month. The work continued over a period of two years, after which the family fled to Thailand. The family also had to do forced labour constructing an army camp at T'Nay Cha (Nabu). She herself did this work. They also had to provide bamboo for the camp construction, which her father cut for her. Her father also had to work as a porter. __________________________

 

245

Ethnicity: Karen

Sex: Male

Education: 6th Standard

From: Mawlamyine (Moulmein) town, Mon State (he later moved with his family to Kanbauk in Yebyu township, Tanintharyi Division)

(This is a summary of the testimony provided by "Mr. Po" at the Commission's Second Session in Geneva.)

The witness left Kanbauk after getting married, and went to Nat Ein Taung (on the Thai border). This was then under the control of the KNU. Then the Myanmar army attacked the area so he had to leave. He went to Tat Lei Ya village (in Thailand), near Nat Ein Taung. In 1995 he went back to Myanmar, to a town called Thuka (about one hour from the border near Nat Ein Taung). He opened a shop in Thuka, and traded in supplies from Myanmar and Thailand. Sometimes he travelled to other places in Burma to buy supplies for his shop. One such place was Taungthonlon (Three Mountains) near Dawei (Tavoy). In February 1997 he went on such a trip, to Kalet Kyi village. He arrived at Kalet Kyi on the evening of 8 February. He stayed at a friend's house. At about 6 a.m. the next day, Burmese soldiers came to the house. They aimed their guns at the house, and ordered all the men in the house to come down. The four men in the house at the time went down. From there, a total of about 30 men from the village were taken at gunpoint by the soldiers to an army camp near Hti Law Pei stream, which took about 30 minutes. The soldiers were from battalion 104 (company 4) under Lieutenant Aung Pai Oo. One person tried to run away, but was caught and badly beaten by the soldiers. After stopping for a short time at the camp, the porters were given their loads and then they continued. Lieutenant Aung Pai Oo said that if any of the porters tried to escape they would be shot. He had to carry 45 kg of rice, on his back with a strap around his head. He knew how heavy it was, because he was a trader in rice, and was used to carrying rice. He had also worked previously as a harbour worker in Kanbauk, and was used to carrying heavy loads. They carried the loads back to Kalet Kyi village. When they got back to Kalet Kyi village, there was a fight with the KNU. The porters were put in the middle of the soldiers, and were told that if anyone tried to run away, they would be shot. The battle lasted about 15 minutes. They then withdrew through Hti Law Pei to Kane Po Kye. They stayed the night in Kane Po Kye, and the porters were allowed to eat. They were given some rice about the size of a fist, and some small fish. The porters were given no shelter, and had to sleep in the open. It was cold and foggy that night. The next day at about 6 a.m., without breakfast, they continued down the stream, heading for a village called Myitta and Kanadaw village. They stopped on the way to eat lunch. The porters were given a plastic bag of cold rice, about the size of a fist. They stopped on the way at about 7 p.m., and slept the night among some bamboo trees. It was cold and foggy again. The next night, at about 3 a.m., they arrived in Myitta. Eleven porters were put in a small bunker so they would not escape (on the fourth day a porter had escaped), and the soldiers slept on top. It was so crowded they could not sleep. After eating the next morning, they were taken by truck to Heinda mine in the Taungthonlon area. After picking up supplies, they continued by truck to Paung Daw Gyi power station. The next day they walked to Paung Daw village. He again had to carry rice. They arrived at Paung Daw in the evening. They slept the night in a betel nut plantation. The next morning they went on to Pya Tha Chaung by foot. On the way, one of the porters injured his knee on a tree root, and could not continue so he was released. After this the man's load was distributed. Mr. Po now had to carry cooking pots. This load was more heavy, because the cooking pots were full of rice (but it became lighter as the rice was eaten). They arrived at Pya Tha Chaung at 3 p.m., and they took more porters: a young man, four old men over 60, and 25 women. There was a fight at Pya Tha Chaung that afternoon with the KNU. During the fight the porters were in the middle of the soldiers, "prostrate with fear". That evening they slept in a cow-shed on the outskirts of the village. He had to cook for the soldiers and porters that evening. Because he cooked the porters got a little more to eat that night. The next day they went back into the village, and around noon there was another fight, again with the KNU. The fight didn't last very long. The porters were put in the middle of the soldiers again, and were warned they would be shot if they tried to escape. Then from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. there was a big fight. It was bad because it was open ground with no cover. That night they slept among bamboo trees. The next day at 5.30 a.m. they went to another village, and arrived about 7 p.m. They slept in the open, with no shelter at all. That night he had to cook, and it took until about 11 p.m., because he had to go away from the soldiers to cook (another two porters and a soldier went with him), because the soldiers were afraid that if the KNU saw the smoke they would attack. About 9 p.m., the other two porters ran away. The next day they walked to another Karen village. The following day they left, and walked for three days and nights with no sleep. On the third day at about 4 p.m. they arrived on the other side of Hti Hta stream from Hti Hta camp (a KNU camp). From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. there was a big fight, and they occupied Hti Hta camp. He stayed at Hti Hta for ten days as a cook. After that he went to a camp on Hti Hta mountain for six days. He had to cook and carry water up the mountain to the camp. If he left the camp at 6 a.m. to fetch water, it would take him until 3 p.m. to be able to return. On the seventh day the camp ran out of food, so the Captain ordered six people (including him) to go and look for food. He managed to run away with four other porters, and travelled for 12 days in the jungle, living off jungle food. On the twelfth day they met some other escaped porters and then they travelled together. The next day they reached Htee Hpo Lay village where they met some soldiers from battalion 401. The soldiers asked who they were running away from, and then arrested them. It was 25 March. He knows this because he asked a soldier who had a watch what the date was. The next day some soldiers with injuries arrived and they had to carry them to Myitta village in a blanket strung over a pole. There were four porters left and they carried two wounded soldiers between them. In Myitta village he ran away and hid at a friend's house. He managed to get a document from the Captain of battalion 25, after the Myitta village head arranged it, saying he had finished his portering assignment. He then returned to Thuka, which was controlled by the KNU, but his family was not there. They had gone to Thailand. While he was a porter, he saw soldiers beat the porters many times, but he was never beaten. One porter was seriously wounded by shrapnel in the big battle at Pya Tha Chaung. He saw porters beaten to death, and others died from exhaustion. The youngest porter he saw was 13, and the oldest 67 or 68.

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246

Ethnicity: Karen

Sex: Male

From: Yangon

 

(This is a summary of the testimony of "Ka Hsaw Wa" given by video conference at the Commission's Second Session.)

The witness left Yangon in 1988, after the student uprising in which he participated. At that time, he had just completed high school. He went to KNU-controlled areas near the Thai

border. For six or seven months, he lived in a KNU-controlled area in Kyaukkyi township (Bago Division), designated by the KNU as the No. 3 Brigade area. He had to hide. Having lived in Yangon up to then and had not seen or experienced forced labour at that time. While travelling, he talked to many villagers about their situation and learned that many of them

were trying to move from military-controlled areas because they had to work for the army all the time. They would need to cut firewood, build roads and railways and work for military camps. He personally saw villagers working for a military camp. Some villagers were also hiding because they would otherwise be called for porter duties for the military. Men, women and children were taken as porters. Children were also used to do work for soldiers such as carrying messages for them. As early as 1988, he saw written orders to perform forced labour. The orders would specify the number of persons required, the work to be carried out and the duration of the assignment. Sometimes the orders were accompanied by charcoal and bullets, the former meaning that the village would be burnt down if the order was not respected and the latter representing a death threat. He started to work for Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) at the beginning of 1992. He then gathered reports of all forms of forced labour concerning, inter alia, portering, railway and road. Villagers wold also have to work for military camps. KHRG's representatives interviewed hundreds of porters who explained the various forms of portering and the vary bad conditions in which the work had to be done. They would be shot if they tried to escape. Porters were neither paid nor fed. Neither was there a medical examination performed to ensure they were fit for the job. He personally saw villagers performing portering in 1992. Porters to whom he talked came from several places, including Yangon, Shan State and Kayah State. The porters would have to carry supplies, ammunition and food. In fights, porters could be used as human shields or mine sweepers. After the fall of Manerplaw, he went to Mae Sot (Thailand) in early 1995. He left KHRG and started to work on the establishment of EarthRights International organization, the main function of which was to gather information concerning the pipeline being built in Tanintharyi Division. Between April 1995 and May 1996, he made four long trips into the area to see people. Otherwise, he would make many short trips per month to the areas close to the border. His last long trip was in May 1996 to get plaintiffs out for his organization's lawsuit before United States federal district court. He interviewed more than 200 people out of which 100 had something to say about the pipeline. He observed that a lot of the portering going on in that area was closely associated with soldiers guarding the pipeline. He believed that the pipeline security was the reason why there was an increased military presence in this area. He interviewed villagers from Migyaunglaung and Eindayaza, who told him about having to work on the Ye-Dawei (Tavoy) railway. People had to work for 15 days and then went back to their village for 15 days. Villagers from Natkyizin had to pay pipeline fees ranging from 500 to 1,000 kyat which was requested and collected by the military. In addition, he talked to villagers from Migyaunglaung and Heinzebok Island who had to perform work for the military.

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