Forced Relocation

 

 

While massive relocation is going on in the countryside, even urbanites are not exempt from such upheavals. In connection with tourism, the whole community of Pegu was forcibly relocated hundreds of kilometres north. SLORC has forced 500,000 inhabitants of Rangoon to relocate to “satellite towns”, which are little more than shanty towns without running water or electricity, so that the centre of Rangoon can be sold off to foreign developers for hotel facilities and other projects. Thereby, electricity is drained from outlying areas and other neighbourhoods. The new towns are also easier to control should a repeat of 1988 ever occur, with the people spread out over geography that is easily manageable for the military to quell dissent.

 

Orders are given without adequate notice by military commanders that villagers must leave their homes, carrying what possessions they can. The Gas Pipeline and related Ye-Tavoy Railway been the reason for massive upheavals of whole areas by SLORC. Often villagers are forced to relocate near a military base or into towns, where concentrations of population are less difficult to control than in the jungle. Also, SLORC creates a “resource pool” to be more readily tapped for forced labour this way. Some relocation places are more appropriately “concentration camps” with barbed wire fencing, much like “strategic hamlets” than villages. SLORC does not provide new building materials or fields for relocated victims; villagers must fend for themselves in their new environment, no matter how suitable the soil and surroundings are to habitation. These tactics aid the SLORC idea of consolidation of captured territory from ethnic rebel groups, and once again proves that human rights violations were actually increasing and affecting more and more people in Burma than previously.

 

In the Kalemyo area, villages have been forcibly relocated to build a large military basis. There used to be only one battalion in that area but recently SLORC have moved 3 more battalions around Kalemyo.

 

KABAW VALLEY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

 

The base of the Kabaw Valley Development Programme is Mintha Village, where a number of SLORC troops are stationed. Aung Zay Ya Village was founded near former Thanan Village in 1991. Aung Zay Ya Village is located 40 miles north of Tamu and there are at least 200 households present in the area. These houses were built by the local people in Kalay District, by covering their own expenses. For the construction of Sayar San and Aung Zay Ya villages, each person in Kalay District was forced to pay 5 Ks. Many people in Kalay District were forced to relocate to Aung Zay Ya Village. Although SLORC announced that each household would be provided with a house, 5-acre wide plot of land, cattle and farming tools without charges, no one wants to live there because there is no electricity nor running water. Local people living in 6 townships of Kalay District were not only forced to pay tax in the name of the Kabaw Valley Development Programme, but also driven to provide cattle according to numbers fixed by SLORC. Businessmen were also forced to pay 200 Ks per person. Convict labourers were forced to dig earthen pitches and uproot trees. In ploughing farms, SLORC replaced cattle with convict labourers and forced them to work as cattle.

 

Another village, Sayar San, was founded in 1993. It is 20 miles from Tamu and the programmes will be similar to Aung Zay Ya Village. A police station was built by villagers at a place 13 miles from Tamu. Furthermore, another village will also be founded in Kabaw Valley. Local people there have been forced to provide for the new settlers. [source: ABSDF]

 


SLORC'S FORCED RELOCATION/DISPLACEMENT

 OF ETHNIC VILLAGES IN TENASSERIM DIVISION

SINCE MAY 1991


 


Yebyu Township

 

Conducted by SLORC's IB 104 and LID 408

during first quarter of 1993. Affected Villages:

 

1. Barine (Mayan)

2. Yapu

3. Kywethalin

4. Kyauk Gadin

5. Ale Sakhan

6. Kyauktayan

Estimated Total Population: 2,500

 

Tavoy Township

 

Conducted by SLORC's LIB 403 and other local units during the 1992/1993 dry season. Affected Villages:

 

1. Taung Zin

2. Badat Chaung

3. Kyaukbyu

4. Laung Minba

5. Hti Ywar

6. Ka Hti Wa

7. Inn Ywar

8. I'einbin Aing

9. Oat Tu

10. Kado Twin

Total Households: 732

 

Estimated Total Population:

                                             approximately 4,000

 


Thayet Chaubg Township

 

Conducted by SLORC's local infantry battalions during their "Than Lyet Sit Hsin Yay" military operation, April 1992. Affected Villages:

 

1. Thayet Hna Khwa

2. Ye Byat

3. Me Ke

4. Kyauk Aing

5. Winkapaw

6. Kywe Cyan

7. Alezu

8. Byat Wi

9. Taung Byauk

10. Yapu

11. Thabyu Chaung

12. The Lan

13. Gonnyin Zeit

14. Yegyo Chaung

15. Thayetpin Aing

16. Si Dat

17. Pyinbyuthar

18. Sone Zin

19. Si Taw

 

Total Households: 2404

Estimated Total Population:

                                                            over 13,000

 

 

 

 

[source: CPPSM]

 

 


GAS PIPELINE AREA PRIOR TO 1994

 

As the planned gas pipeline will necessarily be laid across the Mon and Karen territories, Thai authorities in a move to help ensure security of the gas pipeline project have put increasing pressure on the Mon and Karen guerrilla groups to enter into ceasefire deals with the SLORC regime. In so doing, Thai military and civil authorities have driven the Mon and Karen refugees seeking shelters on the Thai border from pillar to post.

 

The forcible relocation of 7,400 Mon refugees at Loh Loe Camp began this year. Out of these 7,400 refugees, the majority were repatriated to Burmese side of the border at Halockhani which was located at an only 5 kilometre’s distance from SLORC's local army stationed at Three Pagodas Pass. The rest of the
refugees at Loh Loe were at the same time removed about 30 kilometres to the west to Pa Yaw, another Mon refugee camp which was situated nearby the Thai-Burmese border line.

 

Thai authorities have forcibly relocated several other Mon refugee camps and villages on tie Thai border since 1991. 2,500 Mon refugees at Day Bung refugee camp were forcibly relocated by local Thai authorities to Hlabrad refugee camp (in the Loh Loe area) in the middle of the Monsoon Season in June 1991. 1,000 Mon villagers at Ban Mai were forcibly vacated from the site by local Thai militiamen in March 1992 A total of 5,000 Mon refugees from three other refugee camps – namely Krone Kung, Panung Htaw and Day Bung –  were at the same time forcibly relocated to Loh Loe in April 1992. Some 500 Mon villagers at Halockhani (which was situated in Thai territory at that time) were forced back to the Burmese side of the border in April 1993 by local Thai authorities. (The new settlement, though inside Burmese territory, still retained the name 'Halockhani" But this village was not under the administration of the Mon National Relief Committee until the refugees from Loh Loe camp were repatriated to the area and combined with the 500 or so old villagers of Halockhani.) Two Karen villages on the Thai border near Nat Ein Taung were also burned down by the Thai army in April 1993 in a move to secure the gas pipeline route.

 

OIL AND INVESTMENT FUELS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

 

Total Co of France and Unocal Corp of the US are the concessionaires of the 26,140 km surface area in the Martaban Gulf, including the Yadana gas field which contains estimated total 5.8 trillion cubic feet of untapped natural gas. Total Co is the operator of the Martaban Cu If gas project and holds 52.5% interest, Unocal Corp having a minority interest of 47.5%. The Total-Unocal consortium is to deliver the natural gas from the Martaban Gulf of Burma to Thailand via a pipeline, which will necessarily be laid across the ethnic Mon and Karen territories, where SLORC so far has little or no control. To ensure the SLORC's military control over these guerrilla-war zones is the very first and foremost stage of the materialisation of the gas pipeline project. Territorial security for the gas pipeline project is completely indispensable to the Total-Unocal consortium as well as all other parties involved in it. So Total Co and Unocal Corp must also be brought to account for all human rights violations committed by SLORC in terms of securing and facilitating the Total-Unocal gas pipeline project.

 

In terms of securing the foreign business projects in Mon State and Tenasserim Division, SLORC has already created enormous social disaster in the rural ethnic communities in the regions, which is tantamount to hell. For the recent years, SLORC has conducted a series of violent forced relocation and inhumane forced labour in Mon State and Tenasserim Division. Tens of thousands of ethnic Mon, Karen and Tavoyan populations have been subjected to forced relocation or displacement by SLORC since l992. More than 120,000 of local ethnic communities – male and female including the old, the under-aged and the pregnant – have been subjected to unpaid forced labour for the construction of the 110-mile-long Ye-Tavoy railway since last dry season already resulting in hundreds of deaths, thousands of sicknesses and tens of thousands of displaced persons and refugees. Having been in recess for 4 months of the monsoon season, tens of thousands of the local inhabitants are again being forced by the SLORC military into unpaid labour on the Ye-Tavoy railway construction. SLORC needs an urgent completion of this strategic railway to better secure the billion-dollar gas pipeline project of the Total-Unocal consortium.

 

Foreign investments in Burma only support SLORC's longer stay in power to further oppress the peoples of Burma and suppress democratic movements in the country, and do not benefit the Burmese peoples in general. International human rights and environmentalist activists at large, seriously concerned about the gas project-related human rights violations and environmental degradation in Burma, have been pressuring and demanding Total Co and Unocal Corp to withdraw from Burma. However, both Total Co and Unocal Corp have persisted in furthering their economic deals with the SLORC military dictatorship, respectively arguing that any cases of the forced labour and forced displacement in Burma are not related to the natural gas project in which they are involved. In its 25 March 1994 letter to Investor Responsibility Research Centre (IRRC), Total Co stated:


               Since April 1993 our engineers have conducted several surveys along the whole length of the

               Burmese pipeline route on foot by car and by helicopter. The area is very sparsely populated.

               There are few villages and the region is perfectly calm. No population displacement should

               occur anywhere along the pipeline route.

 

Under such these circumstances, hatred and fear to the SLORC army have naturally increased and been deeply ingrained within these ethnic communities. As a result, these ethnic communities have lacked any trust and confidence in the Tatmadaw. They run away when Burmese troops come into their villages and only dare to go back to their villages when the Burmese troops have returned. Those villagers who cannot escape are normally subjected to any of the human rights abuses by the Burmese troops aforementioned.

 

Since 1984, the Tatmadaw has launched a major strategic campaign, which is notoriously known as the "Four-Cuts Campaign for Annihilation of Insurgency Movements" in the country: To cut any communication and support between the ethnic guerrilla groups and ethnic populations. Under the rhetoric of the Four-Cuts Campaign, forced relocation-displacement of ethnic villages by the Tatmadaw has been common in the ethnic territories of the country. The military has normally forced the ethnic villages which it cannot fully control to relocate in "strategic hamlets "or "concentration camps" as a traditional tactic to weaken the ethnic rebel groups and strengthen its military control.

 

The SLORC regime has further intensified this strategic Four-Cuts Campaign in order to secure the foreign business activities in the areas where it has had only loose control. It is transparent that the foreign business operations in the ethnic territories where SLORC has not had full control are obvious reasons for SLORC's increase of the forced relocation-displacement. In trying to secure the oil-gas exploration and developing activities of the foreign companies in Tenasserim – such as Total Co of France, Unocal Corp of the US, Premier of the U K, Texaco of the US and Nippon Oil of Japan – SLORC has increasingly conducted forced relocation of the ethnic villages in the regions. For this, all these foreign oil companies must share with SLORC any international blames and punishments.

 

The gas pipeline area, which the Total Co said its representatives have thoroughly surveyed, means just the pipeline route per se and is far smaller than the actual size of the area and population affected by the ruthless inhumane measures taken by SLORC in terms of securing their gas projects. Total Co and Unocal Corp must not be allowed to hide the real amount and seriousness of social disaster and ecological concern causing in the regions where their gas projects are located. Both Total Co and Unocal Corp should be honest enough and must fully expose the actual human miseries and environmental problems having been caused due mainly to their gas pipeline project. The area for the gas pipeline route, as Total Co says, may be truly sparsely populated and no population displacement should occur due to the laying of the pipeline itself. But hundreds of thousands of innocent ethnic peoples in Mon State and Tenasserim Division have already suffered the effects of the long-terms unpaid forced labour on the Ye-Tavoy Railway construction imposed by SLORC in the name of the urgently required security for the Total-Unocal gas pipeline. "SLORC is greedy enough to kill off every Karen and Mon in the area, so that the pipeline might seem safe" said the opposition Democratic Alliance of Burma in its 27 September 1993 statement.

 

The End of a Village; the Beginning of Constant Fear

 

No Phoe Village is in Kawkareik Township with 200 households and a population of 1,150. Villagers live there peacefully. Once Tactical Comdr Tint Lwin from LID 44 forced the villagers to relocate. The village was then destroyed and the villagers were forced to move to a new site, about 3 miles from their old village, by the order of Tint Lwin. As the villagers did not want to abandon their land farm, monastery, houses, where they lived for generation, they temporarily hid in the jungle and then settled in the old village again.

 


The villagers were again ordered to move on 23 June by SLORC 3rd Tactical Command. 31 August was given as the deadline. If the villagers did not abide by the order they would be shot as the area was declared a war zone under section 118 of SLORC law. Unable to abandon the village where they have lived for generations, and as they did not have thatch roofing and other materials for construction, the villagers were afraid of losing their farms and did not wish to bear any hardship in the jungle. So they continued living in their own village, as they experienced earlier.

 

Then, on 10 September, a joint military column of troops from LIB 355, led by Bn Comdr Myo Kyin, troops from LIB 375, led by Bn Comdr Than Soe and troops from LIB 356 reached No Phoe Village and fired four 81mm mortar shells into the village when they found villagers were still residing there. Because of artillery shells a house belong to Kyaw Ti Hoe was destroyed and villagers fled into the jungle as they dared not to live in their homes anymore. They have had to abandon No Phone Village and their traditional community, their children being deprived of education and stability. Although, the villagers were faced with difficulties for their living and also with bad sanitation, they dared not return to their old village because they were afraid of being shot to death by SLORC troops under the “law” of Section 188.

 

The terror in No Phoe Village caused the villagers to flee away, including finally U Oaktanza, a Buddhist monk in that village, because there was no one to provide with alms [Buddhist tradition is that monks must receive food and drink from followers]. Since U Oaktanza could no longer bear the situation, and the devote monk did not want to break his vows, he went to Myawaddy and asked U Wimala, secretary of Sangha Association in Myawaddy Township, who was also abbot of Phaya Gyi Monastery, for help in order that his monastery not to be removed. U Wimala showed him SLORC’s invitation letter and order issued for Section 188 and explained that he himself could not ignore SLORC’s order and told U Oaktanza it was not proper to live in the village anymore.

 

Thus the monk abandoned his will and stayed in a house in Htee Mu Hta Village temporarily and asked the villagers from No Phoe Village to build a temporary shelter for him. 6 villagers who built the shelter were arrested by SLORC military column. Although the monk asked for their release, he was told that they will be released “when the time is ripe”. On 26 September, the monks went to office of 3rd Tactical Command in Thingannyinaung and asked the operation commander and intelligence chief to allow a religious ceremony to be held at the monastery in No Phoe Village. The proposal was turned down by the intelligence officer without deliberation.

 

[see also under “Eye-witness Accounts”, interview 1, 4, 33-34, 98-99, 109, 119]

 

List of Incidents

 

Sakham Gyi Payaw Hae and Wae Htaw villages in Win Yaw Township were forced to relocate to a new site, located 1-3 miles from their old villagers. 32 farmers in Sakham Gyi Village become ruined as there was no one else to look after them. Although SLORC allowed for farming, spending the night on the farm is not prohibited. The farmers had to return on the same day. The monastery in the village was also destroyed. Payaw Hae Village is 16 miles from Thanbyuzayat and the new sit is about 3 miles from the old village. As in Sakhan Gyi Village, SLORC allowed farming but prohibited residents from spending the night there. 8 farms were ruined as there was no one to look after them. Wel Htaw and Kyon Khani villages were forced to relocate and both of them were combined and renamed as Wel Htaw Village. More than 20 farms were destroyed. A farm belong to U Kya and another farm belong to U Maung Than were totally forbidden by SLORC from farming.


 

Village Name

Households

Families

Population

Relocated

Perpetrators

Sakhan Gyi

55

55

approx 200

1992/93

 

Payaw Hae

30

20

approx 70

 

Wae Htaw

90

70

approx 200

 

Kyom Khani

200

200

1150

1994

3rd TOC, IB 355, 356, 357

(aka Ah Twin

Kwin Kalay)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 [source: Bar Zi Tan]

 

Many acres of land in Tamardan Village in Ye Sagyo Township were confiscated by SLORC without compensation in order to build military headquarters for IB 256, 257 and 258. All the households in Khawekyin Village in Monywa Township were forced to relocate from their home community by the orders of SLORC in order to build an airport.

 

Dependants in the religious compounds, those who had problems with their landlords, those who became homeless because of fire, those whose houses were in the way of road extensions, those whose houses were destroyed for the extension of the roads; were all forced to relocate to Nandawun satellite town, to be set up from Kyaik Kar Lan Village to Sar Kyin Village, located in southeast of Monywa. The new satellite town was on the peasants' farms which were forcibly bulldozed by SLORC in order to parcel out the land for those who were under eviction. Although the peasants have lost their land for more than one year, until now they have not received a proper price for their land nor any other sort of compensation. In fact, each household there was forced by SLORC authorities to dig 3 earthen pits by the side of a 100 foot-long highway to grow trees. Somebody else who cannot dig the earthen pit had to pay 50 Ks to SLORC authorities and was forced to pay a maximum of 300 Ks each in case of absence. They were also threatened from loudspeakers with promises of "effective actions" being taken for failure. [source: ABSDF/NLD-LA]

 

On 15 December, SLORC LIB 406 from Nat Kyi Zin Village, Ye Phyu Township, summoned village headmen from Kyauk Hta Yan and Dhani Kyar villages, ordered them to relocate their villages in order to break any possible contact with the revolutionary forces. In Dhani Kyar Village, there were about 120 households and when they asked SLORC troops to give them more time, as it coincided with the season for the collection of betel nuts, SLORC troops demanded from them a ransom of 120,000 Ks. Because of harassment, on 15 December the villagers had to pay the ransom as fixed by SLORC troops. [source: CPPSM/DPNS/NLD-LA]

 

The following Karen villages in Mergui-Tavoy District were forcibly relocated in December 1993; villages around B'Saw Law were forced to move to Kalaing Aung, villages around Shwetapi were forced to move to Huan Gyi, and villages in the Baw Law Gyi area were forced to move to Yabu. The villages which were forced to move are all near the expected route of a planned gas pipeline from the Gulf of Martaban to Thailand, while the relocation sites are along the SLORC‑controlled road near the coast. SLORC has moved several new infantry battalions into the area. [source: KNU]

 

Yeh Mu Plaw Village is situated where the Sittang River plains meet the eastern hills, and features a market for trading goods between the plains and hill areas. SLORC didn’t want such trade to continue because the Karen army are in the hills, so in the last week of December 1993 SLORC troops burned down the whole market and the village and ordered the villagers to move into SLORC-controlled area on the plains, which the villagers did. Mat La Daw Village had a very similar market, where Burman traders would come to sell rice and take back betelnut and other produce. In the latter half of January 1994 SLORC troops forced all 34 shops in this market to close and drove the shopkeepers to the plains. This incident illustrates not only the HRV against ethnic people, but also indiscriminately against Burmans.