Freedom of Movement



Burmese citizens have lived with restrictions of movement since Ne Win’s dictatorship. SLORC continues this practice, despite claims of a “break with the past”. In order to keep control over villagers, daily permits are issued by some local military authorities so that villagers can gather food, or go about their business. Sometimes, villagers are forced to relocate, because SLORC claims threats of “insurgent groups” or the need to build an infrastructure project on that land. People are then allowed to work in their fields with “movement papers” issued by the local military commander. Along the on-going Ye-Tavoy railway lines construction, there are 10 Light Infantry Battalions (401-410) and all of them were ordered by Southeastern Command to issue local ultimatums including a curfew. Such an order was issued by LIB 410 on 12 November. It has also been reported that, due to severe restriction of movement, victims of soldiers’ rape and torture could not reach hospitals or private doctors in Buthidaung, Arakan State, for treatment. These incidents are occurring all throughout SLORC-occupied areas. Also, ID cards are often required by SLORC, but denied to ethnic peoples under citizenship laws and discrimination, depriving them of civil liberties.


Guest Registration Continues


During the interview, the interviewee described how he was conscripted as a porter this way: "Some soldiers of IB 61 came to my house in Ye on 1 July in the middle of the night along with some town headmen [appointed by SLORC, not elected by the people of the town], pretending it was responsibility of the town headmen to check any unregistered guests staying overnight in my house. As l thought it as usual and I opened the door of my house for them to come in. Then the soldiers suddenly grabbed me and took me to their encampment. When I reached their encampment, I met with many other civilian men like me detained there. I was told by the soldiers that I must serve as a porter along with their troops to Three Pagodas Pass."


The practice of checking unregistered guests has traditionally been in place in Burma under the military dictatorship of Ne Win. Despite claims of the changes within the Burmese government the rule of the SLORC military regime maintains all restrictions on personal liberties and has, in fact, made them stricter. It is common place in all parts of Burma, in all villages or towns and even Rangoon, when the people receive guests in their houses, they are required to inform in advance the local SLORC administrators about their guests. The names, addresses, jobs, etc., of the guests must at the same time be provided to the local SLORC administrators. If any unregistered guest is found staying overnight in one's house, both the host family and the guest are subject to fine or short-term imprisonment – or even as an “excuse” to conscript people. And the local SLORC administrators conduct surprise checks, especially at the night time, in any houses which they suspect of having any unregistered guests. [source: MOA]


On 2 February, IB 84 of LID 99, commanded by Lt Col Aung Kyaw Min and Maj Nyo Min Thein, ordered each of the following villages to send them 1,000 viss (1,600 kg) of jaggery; No Lor Plaw, No Aw Ler, Pyor Gor, Kyu Kyi, Pyo, Her Ter Rai, Met Thai, Met Ker Ner and Tee Kyor Khee villages (9 villages altogether, all in Thaton District). Villages which could not produce the required amount of jaggery were ordered to pay 2,700 Ks. The battalion also put strict restrictions on the movements of the villagers. All villagers who work in the surrounding forests had to register at the regimental headquarters and pay 500 Ks for a permit. [source: KNU]


 [see also “Forced Relocation” and “Eye-witness Accounts”, interview 13, 56, 95]