Name: Pu Tha Kler
SLORC shot at me on
They also always make us give them things. One time they came to my house and took everything; my smoked fish, my hat, my torch, my folding umbrella, pots, food, clothes, even my cloth bag and my cheroots. Even if they don’t beat us, we don’t dare face them because they demand so many things from us. I’ve seen what they do, so I always run and they never capture me. After they shot me, they didn’t come and capture me because they didn’t know I’d been hit. Now I’m using traditional medicine. I put some oils and saffron on the wound and said some words, and now it’s curing itself slowly. [Note: at the time of the interview, the open wound had not yet healed.]
Name: Saw Lah Ghay
Troops from IB 36 arrived at our
Name: Naw Eh Wah
Family: Married with 2 children
Address: Pa-an Township, Thaton District
Interviewed: late March-early April 1994
At the beginning of March, my nephew was away from the village driving cattle. He was 13 years old, and that was his job. I waited for him to come home but he never came, so we knew SLORC must have captured him on the way, tortured him and killed him. We went looking for his body but we didn't find it, so then we held a funeral ceremony for him. Then after four or five days some villagers went to cut firewood in the forest far from the village and they found his body. They couldn't bring it back because it was already decomposed, but they could see that SLORC had badly burned the back of his neck and tortured him. Then SLORC had sharpened a bamboo stick, shoved it through his anus and up through his body, like they would skewer a fish. He was only 13 years old.
At the beginning of April [other witnesses verify the
date as 1 or
Then they brought out another man, Maw Lay. They had him tied up and dragged him along. They didn't let him stay there long before they dragged him away again, and he just looked at me. I told him in Karen, "Don't tell them anything." Then we all stood up and started walking, and Maw Lay and the others were following behind me. Maw Na was right behind me, and he said, "Aunty, it looks like we will die now." I asked if they had said anything that would make the soldiers kill them and he said no. I said, “If not, then they can't just kill you for doing nothing wrong, and I'll also do my best to stop them killing you." As we arrived at the camp, the column commander said, “Look at these men – they're not villagers, they're spies." He showed me a backpack with bullets and shells in it. There were two kinds of shells; one was big with a tail on it, and the other was small. There were also many bullets and one hand-grenade. He said all of it belonged to the four men. I told him, "That's not true – it's not theirs." Then he got angry and didn't say anything, he just went away and spoke to the battalion commander while a soldier guarded us. Later on they let me and the other woman go back to the village. After we got back, they fired 6 shells after us at the village. Later they killed all of the four men in secret and never told us anything. They'd just captured them that morning, and that night they killed them all. I think they shot them, because afterwards some people went and found their bodies and said they'd been shot in the temple.
Name: Naw TTT—
Family: Wife of Maw Na (30) with 2
children (one girl & one boy)
Interviewed: late March-early April 1994
Name: Naw UUU—
Family: Wife of Maw Toe Aung (40)
with 3 children (one girl and
Interviewed: late March-early April 1994
Name: Naw VVV—
Family: Wife of Pa Boe (43) with 3
children (all girls)
Interviewed: late March-early April 1994
Name: Naw WWW—
Family: Wife of Maw Lay (34) with 2
children (both boys)
Interviewed: late March-early April 1994
following account was given in an interview with the wives of the four men who
were arrested and killed by SLORC on 1 or
It was IB 119 of LID 33. They captured our husbands away from the village. Not all at the same time – two of them were going fishing when SLORC captured them, and the other two were going to the forest to cut bamboo. They took a cow along with them to the forest to feed, and when SLORC captured them the soldiers killed that cow and ate it. Our husbands had nothing, no guns or ammunition. They were just civilians. Not far from our village, Karen soldiers left some guns and ammunition that were no good anymore in jackary huts in a field. We didn't know about it at all until afterwards. SLORC found these things, so then they captured our husbands and called them Ringworms. The men who were going fishing were on the other side of the hill from the jackary huts when they were captured, but the two who were going to cut bamboo were three mountains away. That's very far, not close at all. First the soldiers captured the fishermen and said, "These are your guns.” Later they found the men cutting bamboo, and even though they were far away they accused the four of them of being part of the same group, and said the men had just split up.
The soldiers called the village head to go see them and talk to them, but then they just locked our husbands away and wouldn't let the village head talk to them. SLORC said, "Old man, your villagers are good, but now look at them, they have guns. Can you still say they're good?" The old man said, "Yes, they're good men. They're not Karen soldiers." The officer said, "We can't believe you anymore, old man, because we've found out they're Ringworms." The headman said, "If you don't believe me then come to the village and I'll show you." Then we could do nothing. They just killed them all. We know because we heard the gunshots in the evening when it started getting dark.
The next morning we went halfway to where they'd been shot and asked a woman there what had happened. She told us, "SLORC said they just let the men go so they could go home for the festival" [the Buddhist water festival, to celebrate the new year, from 13-16 April], so we just went back home. But by the next morning we were sure they were dead, so we went to try to find where they were buried. We found the tracks of SLORC soldiers' boots going into the forest, so we knew this was the way and we followed the tracks. We found Maw Na's slippers so we kept following, and we could see signs in the dirt of how they'd dragged the bodies. We knew they must be buried around there, so we stepped on the earth until we found a soft place, and that's where we found the bodies. They'd buried two in one hole and two in the other. Their hands were still tied behind their backs. The only marks on them were bullet holes. Two of them were shot in the back of the neck, and the other two in the temple. Maw Na had a bullet hole in one temple and the bullet came out the other side. As for Maw Toe Aung, the bullet had blown out the top of his head. SLORC did this secretly, and never told us they were dead.
Name: Saw Win Gate
Age: over 50
Interviewed: late March-early April 1994
SLORC commits so many abuses against Karen people. SLORC comes and arrests people, beats them and says they're "Ringworm”, even though some of them are sick and weak. This dry season they arrested one man, tied him up, hit and beat him and said, “You're Ringworm.” This man was from Ta Nay Bleh Village. I don't know his name – he came to our village to cure his sickness and stayed with his nephew who lives in our village. SLORC captured both him and his nephew, tied their hands behind their backs and tortured, beat and hit them, then they took them away to their camp and tortured them a lot. The village heads from our village and Ta Nay Bleh Village went to the camp and swore that the men were just villagers, and then they were released. The soldiers say, "If you are real villagers then just stay in your village. We won't hurt you unless you make trouble." So now all the villagers don't dare go anywhere, just stay in the village. If you're just walking outside the village and you see SLORC, if you try to run they call and say, "Don't run, we're good men,” but if you stop then they capture you and make trouble. The soldiers beat people in my village all the time. I myself was beaten once when the soldiers came and accused my friend Tha Dee of being a Karen soldier. I tried to plead for him, and then they slapped both of our faces very hard again and again. My friend Tha Dee is about 20 years old, and he is just a civilian. Three months ago, SLORC captured a man in our village and said, "Is he a villager or a Ringworm?" He was just a villager. They tied him up with rope and tied the rope around his neck until he almost died, then they took him back to their camp. The villagers had to go plead for him to get them to free him. His name is Saw Eh Gay, age 20. Also, I knew a villager named Kya Nay Pawt, and they shot him. That was two or three years ago. He was from Da Greh Village but he usually stayed in a hut at his farm. One evening his friends asked him to stay in the village but he said, "I left my animals loose to feed so I have to go back.” He went back to sleep in his hut, then in the middle of the night SLORC came into his hut and woke him up. Some villagers who they'd already captured were there and saw the whole thing. Kya Nay Pawt woke up and saw SLORC, and they shot him in the leg. He tried to get up and run, but he couldn't and fell down, and then the soldier just walked up to him, pointed a gun at him and killed him. They shot him in the back of the head where he had fallen. We heard the gunshot from the village.
They order villagers to go work for them and to be porters, and if you don't go when they ask then they come arrest you and take you by force, both men and women, even children. You have to carry their shells, rice and rations. We have to go for one day, the whole day, and we only get back in the evening. Sometimes when there's fighting they come and capture all of us and we have to go carry their things. Some have to go for 10 days, or more than two weeks. Porters have to carry up through Maw Po Kay, and back through Kawkareik, in Pa-an District. There are 30 houses in my village, and about 10 of us have to go at a time. Most of the men don't dare go as porters because men porters are tortured very seriously. But women are not treated quite so badly, so it is mostly women who go as porters from our village.
They force us to do a lot of other things too. We have to send food to them and carry it in our carts. Usually the men are carrying food to them in carts, while the women have to carry things on their backs and climb all the hills along the way. This dry season I had to take food on my cart to Baw Ye Pu, and when I got there I saw many, many, 400 or 500 other carts together there. All of them had to carry rations and supplies to the soldiers. I had to send food to Baw Ye Pu and also to Ler Pu. I've had to do this six or seven times, and it was trouble because they made us do it through the middle of the day when it's very hot. Our cow couldn't continue in the heat, but the soldiers forced us to keep going quickly – so then our cow just stopped, and they yelled and cursed at us. They order us to go dig trenches and things for them, and if you can't go then they force you to go. We have to cut bamboo, cut down trees, dig trenches, and build their houses.
The worst thing is building fences for them – it took us over one month to make fences around their whole military camp. They forced us to make three fences all parallel to each other and plant sharpened bamboo sticks in the ground in between. We had to cut the bamboo ourselves and carry it to the camp to make their fences. We had to build them section by section, and there were people from many villages there working together. It was really hard work, and they were always yelling at us to hurry. We all had to take our own food and walk there every day. At the camp we have to do exactly what they say or they would beat us.
They also order everyone, especially the women and children as young as 10 years old, to guard the road. While they are there they are supposed to watch everyone who goes along the road and report it to SLORC. But we are all Karen so even while we're guarding we don't report on all the villagers going by, but when SLORC finds that out then we have to pay them money. We have to go continually, in three day shifts. But that's finished for now, because they've finished sending their ammunition and supplies to the frontline for this season so they've closed the road. Quite a few SLORC trucks explode on the road, but not near our village. When they explode SLORC demands 20,000 or 30,000 Ks from the villagers. Sometimes there are two or three small villages near the explosion, so if SLORC demands 20,000 or 30,000 [Ks] then those villages all have to collect the money and pay it. The Karen soldiers lay the mines. We know there are still some around because we saw them being planted, but we say nothing.
This dry season we had to build a bridge across the Da Greh River for SLORC. We had to cut down many, many trees and then they ordered us to carry them all to build the bridge. One time they ordered me to carry the logs and I almost died – they're so heavy, and even though they're much too heavy for you to carry you just have to keep carrying anyway, for as long as you can. They have 5 or 10 people working at this all the time. The soldiers force everyone they meet to come and do it. I'm not in very good health so it's very hard for me – I have a lung disease. But even if you have a disease or handicap they don't care, they just order you to do it so you have to. They build this bridge to send all their military supplies, because the river is deep and has a sandy bottom, so their trucks can't cross. Every rainy season the river floods and destroys the bridge, so once every year they make us rebuild it. It takes us 1+ to two months every year. Around our village there used to be many trees, but because of this bridge there are now only a few left. SLORC has also cut down every tree in our village, like our coconut trees. [The soldiers sometimes do this just to steal the fruit, and sometimes as a deliberate measure to increase the destitution of the villagers so they have nothing to give the Karen army.]
We have to send people to them every day. Every day! Each family spends about 10 days of every month working for them. The camp commanders are always changing, and every time a new commander comes he makes up new things for us to do. As soon as one job finishes, they call us for another job the next day. The headman can't plan it in advance, so we just have to gather round every day and decide who has to go. People like me who often work far from the village don't have to go as much, but for those who are always in the village, it's every day. The soldiers are from IB 28, and from LID 44. Last year we had IB 338, but they were replaced by IB 28. IB 338 was better – this IB 28 is very bad.
One serious thing they do is whenever our animals go near their camp and they find out, they kill the animals and eat them. Then they say it's not their fault, it's the owner's fault. They've already killed many of the cattle and buffaloes in the village this way. When the soldiers shoot animals and eat them, they don't ask for money compensation as well because if they do then the villagers will know who shot their animals. But some of the animals go near the SLORC camp, step on their landmines and are killed. Then the soldiers eat the animal, and not only that but they order the animal's owner to come to their camp and demand money as compensation for the cost of the landmine! They demand 400 or 500 Ks, sometimes over 1,000 Ks. So now when this happens, we don't go to the camp – we just say we don't know who owned the animal. I haven't lost any cattle, because I keep them in another village. If I kept them at home they'd always go towards the camp because that's where the food is, and they'd be killed.
The soldiers order us to send them our chickens and things and we send them, but even so they still come to the village and take whatever they want, and if you don't have what they ask for then you have to give them money instead. Some people talk back to them when they take things and say, "Don't take that!” but others don't dare. They order us to send 4 or 5 viss [6.4 to 8 kg] of chicken at a time, and just before I left the village we were having a Buddhist [new year water] festival and SLORC ordered us to send 40 viss [64 kg] of pork. We had to send it quickly, because if we hadn't they would have made trouble and we would have missed the whole ceremony.
We have to pay porter fees monthly, 100 Ks per month per family. We also have to pay "courier fees" of more than 10 Ks every month, and slave labour fees – these are 25 or 50 Ks every day you can't go for slave labour. If they capture you to be an operations porter [long‑term portering during fighting] and you refuse to go then you have to pay a lot. People are terrified to go as operations porters so we have to hire others to go in our place for 150 or 200 Kyat. I can't go as an operations porter because I can't carry the loads.
We grow crops but as soon as they're ready SLORC just comes and takes it all away, so people don't want to plant anything anymore because they know they'll never get to eat it. We also have to sell them 4 tins of rice per acre. Last year I got 200 tins and I had to sell them 20, and if the rice is worth 100 Ks then SLORC only pays 50. But if you won't sell it to them they just come to your house and take all the rice you've got, so we have to sell it to them at their price. Sometimes they demand more rice than we have, and we have to go buy it at another village and give it to them. We just have to find food day by day wherever we can. Most people have stopped planting rice close to the village so SLORC can't take so much of it. We have our rice fields very far away, but even there sometimes we still have to run from SLORC. If they see you while you're working in the field, they just grab you and take you to work for them, so we can't get enough time to do all the work in our fields. Some people make a living taking cattle and other things to market for the owners, but then they lose everything to SLORC along the way. Then they don't dare come back because they can't repay the owner, and they have to go and find a living somewhere else.
SLORC hasn't ordered our village to move yet, but they don't let us go too far from the village. There are many people who've come from other areas to stay in our village [people displaced from SLORC-controlled areas], but now SLORC has ordered them all to go back.
There is no fighting around our village right now, but
we don't know what may happen tomorrow or the next day. Even without fighting,
right now the situation is three times worse than ever before. We always have
to do so much labour for them, every day. The big
Name: Naw Say
Family: Married with children
Address: Pa-an Township, Thaton District
Interviewed: late March-early April 1994
Hello nephew, we're glad to see you come and visit us from Manerplaw, we appreciate it and I'm glad to see you're in good health. We live here in our village and the situation is very hard for us here now. Do you know why? Because of the SLORC military, they come and oppress us and make life hard for us. The troops who stay at the camp order us to help them, so all the men and women and even any children who are big enough to work have to help them. If they demand bamboo, we have to give them bamboo. If they order leaves [for roofing], we must get them leaves. If they demand firewood or food, we have to give it to them – everything they ask for. By food I mean rice, vegetables, fruit, even chickens and meat. We have to give them everything, and they don't give us anything for it. They eat for free. If they have all the food they want, their faces look happy, but if not then their faces become angry and you can tell they're going to make trouble so you must hurry and give them even more. If any porters escape, they demand payment and we have to pay. Not money, but pork – they demand 10 or 20 viss [16 to 32 kg]of pork, which is worth about 3,000 Ks. More than that, our village is very small, only 17 or 18 houses, and they demand two porters at all times. Some villagers can't go as porters so they have to pay money: 100 Kyat for one day, so if they're ordered to go for five days that's 500 Ks. That's a lot, it's too much for us because we can't get money here. But if we want to be left in peace we just have to pay them the money. XXX— Village is nearby and has only four or five houses, but SLORC demands one porter from them. Think about that! Only four or five houses, and they have to give one porter for five days, then another for five days, and so on! The men don't have any time to stay home and work. They also order women to go to their camp one day out of every two, and if we don't show up even once the soldiers write us an order warning us to go. They're always sending us orders, so neither men nor women have any time to work to survive, and it's very hard for us to live. Our whole village is brokenhearted by this and we all want to run away to somewhere else but we can't, so we have to live in poverty here. We can't do anything about this.
The soldiers are very happy when we give them money because we're too sick to go as porters. But when porters escape they are very angry, and we have to give them chicken, pork, rice, and whatever we have. Even if we don't have these things we have to find them.
Sometimes we have to buy them from other villages and give them to the soldiers. Then back in the village we have to total how much we all spent so we can divide it equally, and sometimes quarrels break out because of this. We also have to send women as couriers for them, one woman every day. If a woman doesn't go then SLORC gets very angry, but nobody wants to go because these are hard times and we have to support our families, so the women end up arguing among themselves: "This is your turn – you have to go,” "But I don't want to go!” and so on. In the end we just have to go. These problems are not only in our village, but in every village. So in what way are you going to help us so we can live peacefully?
There's just too much to tell! We have to sweep the road [for mines] every day, all the women are blind from all the dust sweeping the road all the time. All the women and children big enough to work, starting at 7 or 8 years old, have to go do this every day, then every night all the men have to sleep along the road as "guards". The men have to sleep on the ground unless they build a special shelter. The women and children are very busy sweeping the road every day, and families in the village who only have one daughter have a hard time, because the mother and daughter have to go on alternate days or else there would be nobody left to work at home. Then if any mine explodes the soldiers accuse the women of laying the mine while they sweep! The soldiers pull their hair, slap their faces, then kick them. They don't care if they're old, young, or even children – they just do whatever they want. Just think about the women and children having to do this every day while the men have to go work to produce food, and you'll see why we can't get enough food anymore. The soldiers are always out looking and listening for people. If they hear the bamboo bell of a cow or buffalo they follow it because they know the owner will be following, and then they capture the owner.
The owners of the animals don't know anything, they just walk along behind their animals singing a song and then suddenly they're captured by SLORC to be porters. Then no one tends the animals, so they wander into the rice fields and eat the rice and trample it and the farmer loses part of his crop too. It's wrong! The Burmese don't even try to fight their enemies, they just come to oppress the villagers. I'll tell you about it, nephew. We ask them, "Son, why don't you fight your enemies? You only fight us,” and they answer, "Because we don't find our enemies here, only you, so we fight you. If we ask you where our enemies are you never tell us, even though you know everything." That's wrong, but to them it's right.
SLORC orders women to go as porters, and if they don't go then the soldiers come and arrest them, take them away to jail and bind their hands and feet. Women have to leave their children at home and go to the camp to carry things. The soldiers say it will just be for one day, but then keep them there for two or three days, and their children get hungry and start crying because they want to eat. Some of the women aren't allowed back until late at night, and then they have to start cooking because they haven't eaten all day. Sometimes we have to go as porters in rainy season, and along the way the rivers are flooded and we have to swim across with our loads. One woman from our village was carrying for them in rainy season, and while crossing a flooded river she slipped and fell over in the current. She couldn't swim and she had a load so she just sank, and her friend grabbed her by the hair and had to pull her out to save her. When they ask for porters and we don't send them, the first time we get a letter, then we get a second letter, then for the third warning they send a letter with charcoal, chillies, and a bullet inside. Most villages often receive the bullet, charcoal and chillies. We just received it once, and I went directly to the camp commander and said, “Son, what does this mean?" He said, "Oh, it's very easy – the bullet means we'll kill all you villagers, the charcoal means we'll burn down the whole village and the chili means we'll cook all your animals into curry." He told me, "If we set your village on fire then everyone in your village will have to flee, including you, Mother, and then everything you leave in the village becomes ours. The only thing I forgot was to put an onion in together with the chili." They're mad, these Burmese! They're just wrong, they're wrong! But me, I'm getting old so I can't fight and shoot them. If I do anything against them it will have to be slowly, bit by bit.
Now SLORC 84 [Infantry] Battalion of 99 [Light Infantry] Division has a camp at the village. I know some of the officers' names [these have been omitted to protect the village]. In December  84 Battalion was making an operation to the south and they did many bad things and killed many villagers. They killed two people in Noh La Plaw [Burmese: Ye Aye] Village, one person in Pwo [Burmese: Thaline Kayin] Village, one person in Kru See [Burmese: Kyaun Sein], one person in Pwa Ghaw [Burmese: Pa Lan Daun] – I don't remember all the village names, but they killed people in almost every village.
They killed two people in Baw
Tha Pyu, a father and his son‑in‑law who
just went to cart their rice from the fields. SLORC saw them along the way so
they killed both of them. They kill people senselessly. If you think carefully
about that, nephew, there's no sense to it. If they found those two men with
guns in the forest together with Karen soldiers, they could kill them. But now
they just find people coming back from their farm on a bullock cart and kill
them. That hurts the people very much, so all the people are afraid. To get
food we have to clear fields and plant rice, but now we dare not do this
anymore. We can't work so we can't improve our lives, and it's very hard for
us. 84 Battalion slept one night at Noh La Plaw, and
the soldiers ordered one woman there to sell them a goat to eat but she said,
"I only have a small kid and its mother, so if I sell the mother what will
happen to the kid? How can I get any more goats?" The soldiers said,
"Oh, don't say anything, we'll just eat both of them." She refused,
so that night while she slept they killed both the mother and the kid and ate
them. In the morning she saw that they were gone and asked the soldiers if they
did it, and they said, “No, maybe they're just lost somewhere.” The SLORC
soldiers don't come to search for their enemies, just to destroy things, make
trouble and oppress the villagers. Last rainy season [mid‑1993] 99
Division was fighting near Twee Pa Wih Kyo [
When their trucks explode SLORC puts all the blame on villagers even though it has nothing to do with us. SLORC's enemies do that, not us. SLORC comes here to find their enemies, so their enemies find them too and blow up their trucks, but then SLORC orders the villagers to pay for the truck. We explain to them, "Son, we didn't plant the mine, your enemies did, but when your truck explodes you come to us. Why does this have anything to do with us?" They answer, "People of your own nationality did this because they don't love you, so you have to pay for it. They know that if they do this you'll have to pay, so why do they do it?" I told them, "Because you came out here to fight them, so of course they find a way to fight back, but then you oppress us by demanding compensation from us.” He answered, "That's not oppression. We don't oppress you. We can't find them and make them pay for it, so we come to you instead, and then maybe they won't do it again."
There was a truck that exploded about the beginning of
February at Tah Paw, not far from a SLORC camp. At
the time I was on my way home from
They also ordered money from our village and other villages around us [names must be omitted] even though we are not close to Tah Paw. When I got home people in our village were saying, "They've ordered us to pay 50,000 Ks – what can we do?" We decided that this isn't right, that we can't pay again and if we had to pay it would be better to run away to someplace far away and live there. So we decided to go to their camp and tell them bravely that we can't pay. When we told the camp commander he answered, "Mother, I don't know anything about this, my job is just to sit in my office and follow orders from above. I have to ask you for everything we need, like leaves for the roof, firewood, porters, couriers, labourers and bamboo, but the truck has to do with the military, not me." I said, "But son, you are the military. Think about it. The soldiers have asked us for so much money that we don't have it, and the truck exploded far from us so this has nothing to do with us. Even worse, they said if we don't pay they'll kill us all and burn down our village. Is this the right thing to do?" Just then an 84 Battalion officer named Capt Nyo Soe Min came in holding 40,000 or 50,000 Kyat in his hand which other villages had paid him. He spoke suddenly, "Mother, what are you talking about? You don't need to talk, you just need to pay us 50,000 Kyat. I control the area here. Whatever I ask for, I have to get it." So I said, "Son, this time we don't have the money. To pay would destroy all of us, so we can't." He said, "You have to pay. If not, your whole village will burn." Then an officer from 302 [Infantry] Battalion in Ler Klaw came and said he'd already warned villagers in his area that they would have to pay if any trucks exploded. I told him, "You're always asking for money, so why don't you just kill everyone in every village while you're at it?" He said, "Okay, if you don't pay we will."
Then I went to their other camp [name must be omitted] and talked to the camp commander, and he said, “Mother, I'll help you write a letter to the battalion commander – but don't give it to him in my handwriting, just copy it down and then give it to him." He said to write, "Battalion Commander, if a truck explodes in our area we'll pay but not if it explodes at Tah Paw." Two days later I went to the other camp and gave them the letter. Since then they've said nothing, but now another truck has exploded in our area so we have to pay anyway. This time they demanded 100,000 Kyat. We can't give them 100,000, so we said we'll pay 50,000. Now we and five other villages [the village names have been omitted for her protection] have to pay 50,000 Kyat each. Think about that! It's an awful lot for the villagers to pay. [In a village of 18 houses, this is almost 2,800 Ks per family, over US$ 450 at official rates – a family would be very hard-pressed to make this amount in an entire year.] It's very hard because some villagers have no money and have to try to borrow from others, and quarrels start because some can pay and some can't. We had to collect the money from house to house, and once we had enough we had to go give it to them. When we had 50,000 Kyat a group of us went to their camp. They didn't even give us a cup of tea when we got there, just plain water. They are very cruel. I didn't want to drink their water, but YYY—'s throat was very dry so she drank it. On the way home I said to her, "You must be desperate, because even though they only gave you a glass of water you drank it." I refused to drink it because these Burmese are very rude and cruel.
When we got home we said, "Now this problem has
cooled down but what will we do if we have to do this again?" The only way
is to run away. We'll have to run to the refugee camp and stay there. I said to
the others, "You only have some pots and plates so you can say that
easily, but I have cattle and buffaloes so how can I move? We could sell them
all, but then if
There are also different SLORC troops from Strategic
Command at Lay Kay. Their officer is Karen but he is very cruel, even worse
than the Burmese – like a crocodile. I can't remember his name, but if I could
I'd like very much to tell you. Lay Kay is a very big village, with big houses
with gardens and fences. The night after New Year's Eve [Karen New Year,
If villagers from Lay Kay travel outside the village
and SLORC sees them, they shoot them. The people get wounded and it takes a
long time and a lot of money to cure them. After shooting them SLORC doesn't
help them or look after them. Nearly a month ago, there were two soldiers and
one of them shot a young boy in the stomach and wounded him badly. The other
soldier asked him, "Why don't you shoot him again and kill him?” and he
answered, "Because now his sister is in the way, and I just wanted to
shoot him, not her." It was only a young boy, and he's still not better.
One month ago the soldiers in Lay Kay heard that there were Karen soldiers in
Last December  the SLORC commander gave orders that many villages would have to move – four or five villages would all have to move into one place. Our village and four others [names must be omitted] were all ordered to move to AAAA— and become one large village. AAAA— is just a small, narrow place. How can so many villages move together with their animals and everything and live in such a small area? The soldiers from 15 battalion (they've gone away now) said, "Mother, we order you to move but that's not our idea, we were ordered to do this by our leaders. They told us the villages must be moved by the end of December, and if they are still there when a military column comes to check after that, the soldiers must burn down the whole village. But before they burn it they'll do whatever they want, steal all your things and treat you very badly, so we're warning you, Mother, you'd better move by the end of December." After that many villages moved to where they'd been ordered: people in Ta Thu Kee moved to Pwa Ghaw, Noh Aw Law Village had to move, and so did Kru See. Before they moved they kept going to talk to the SLORC leaders to prevent it, but it didn't work. Before the end of December 84 Battalion came to our village and said, "You'd better move now or when a military column comes you'll face big trouble. Do as we say or when the next soldiers come they won't warn you like this, they'll just take everything they want, destroy things and burn down your village." Then we started moving to AAAA—. We thought we'd just have to stay there a short time so we just built small huts, but four or five families built big houses out of wood. Then the soldiers suddenly ordered us to pull all our huts and houses down, which would be terrible for the people who'd built big houses because it would be very hard for them to rebuild anything. So we went to SLORC's Strategic Headquarters and met with the officer there. He showed us the list of villages which had to move, and our village was on it. He said all the small villages have to move to big places [this is a SLORC tactic to exert closer control over villagers and cut off support for the Karen army]. I told him, "It's very hard for us to go and live in other peoples' villages and find work to survive – it's not our place and it's very hard for us. Then we moved as you ordered and built houses, and now you order us to tear them all down. Don't you know it's hard for us to rebuild? Please don't do this, just let us go back home to our own place." Then he agreed to let us move back until he found out if his superiors would allow it. So we all packed our things and moved back, and so far they haven't ordered us to move again.
Whenever the soldiers find a man they capture him and take him away, blindfold him, hit and beat him, then make him carry their things. They have to suffer torture, and some of them die. The village head has to try to follow them and get them freed. They capture women, and the women say, "Oh son, I left my children at home and now they need to be breastfed,” but SLORC doesn't let them go, they keep them for one or two days as porters. They are very cruel. What would happen if we treated their families the same way they treat us? All the women want to go down to the town to burn down all the SLORC houses and their whole city, because that's what they do to us. Why doesn't the Karen army go to their town and burn down and destroy their things like SLORC does to us? Instead, the Karen soldiers tell us, "If you capture any SLORC soldiers don't kill them, just let them go and even give them money if you can.” They don't know what it's like for us to have to deal with them all the time. I want to go and tell the Karen leaders about this.
The soldiers can never run out of money because they have their salaries and they also get so much money from us every time they come, they steal food and everything and never pay for it, and they get so much money when their trucks blow up. But even so they act like they're very poor, because when they come to the village they take everything, even our pots, plates, spoons, knives and cutting boards, etc. They take all our knives, hoes, and axes and sell them to other villages or trade them for alcohol. They sell 1 knife for 30 or 50 Kyat, or whatever price they want. They even take our clothing, even women's sarongs. Karen men wouldn't even touch a woman's sarong [it is Karen custom that men never touch women's clothing items], but the Burmese don't care, anything that looks nice they just take and put in their backpacks. Maybe some of them take all these things back home to give to their wives, but some of them probably just sell them so they can buy alcohol to drink. They must make enough money doing this to feed their wife and their whole family, and they also have their salary. All the SLORC troops do this – they're all the same. When the Karen soldiers come to the village it is sad – they have so little, sometimes they just have to eat their rice with salt. We want to give them good food and curry but when they come the SLORC soldiers have already been there so we have nothing left. If SLORC comes to a house which only has 1 hen with chicks they kill the mother and leave the chicks to go crying – how can they survive? SLORC is very hard and cruel, and our animals are getting fewer and fewer. When SLORC comes into the village, all the people have to run away and hide, but even the chickens and ducks run from them too. I have one chicken that disappeared every time they came into the village, and every time I thought they'd killed it, but then as soon as they left my chicken appeared again – this chicken has done this two or three times now. The dogs too, when they see SLORC coming they bark and then run away, and SLORC shoots at them. They even shoot at the dogs that don't bark. There are many dogs in the village, and they all know about SLORC. Even the animals can't live happily around them, so how can the people?
83 [Infantry] Battalion came to our village in
November and killed and cooked every animal they found. Another group stayed at
Sometimes the soldiers order every village to give them 200 bundles of jackary. They say they'll pay and you have to carry it to their camp. Then they pay with old torn money, not good money. We say, "Son, how can I buy anything with this money? Please change it for a usable note,” but they say, "You can buy anything anywhere with this money.” But the women know it is unusable, so some of them just throw it away. Also, villagers here have to buy things like fishpaste, chillies and salt from the Mon traders who come up to sell things. So SLORC give the Mon the jackary and tell them to sell it for them in Be Nwe Kla Village. Once the Mon sold 200 packets for them and brought back 2,600 Kyat. They had to give all that money to SLORC and SLORC didn't give them anything, even though they had a big profit and it had cost the Mon to go by boat to sell the jackary. Because of this the Mon don't come anymore when SLORC is around, because they have nothing left after SLORC does this to them. I know one man who went to sell his jackary at Be Nwe Kla, but SLORC stopped him at their checkpoint and forced him to pay one or two packets. They have many checkpoints, so before he even arrived at Be Nwe Kla all his jackary was gone, and he just sat down and cried. You could never finish describing all SLORC does to us – it's never‑ending.
In February they called a meeting at their Strategic
Headquarters at Lay Kay, and at least 10 villages around there all had to go.
During the meeting the Strategic Headquarters commander told everyone, "Next
time you see the Ringworm come around, tell them you want them to give us
peace. Tell them they must come to peace talks. If they give us peace then all
of you can live in peace. If not, then you won't be left in peace. Next time
they come tell them this." [In essence, a threat of continued SLORC abuse
of villagers if the Karen do not agree to SLORC's "peace" terms.] The
villagers answered, "How can we tell them that? They'll just say it's you
who won't give them peace." Then the commander said, "Oh, we'll give
it to them, we will." But there's another side to this too. As for me, I
don't understand anything about politics, but I still understand what happens
and what has happened. The old people have told me about it, right back to when
Aung San made a speech and said that Burmese and Karen must make peace. But it
has taken a long time and a lot of fighting. Since then we've followed the
saying, "Give Burmese one Kyat and Karen one Kyat.” As for me, I've heard
about Grandfather Bo Mya but I've never seen him. I've just heard from others
that he said, “If the Burmese give Burmese one Kyat and Karen one Kyat, then we
will have peace." Then the commander said, "Not only 1 Kyat, we'll
give 2 Kyat! Because in the beginning it was only Karen and
Burmese who ruled in
So I said, "Oh, I know nothing about politics,
but I only know “Give Karen one Kyat and Burmese one Kyat”. So as for me, if
you say you'll give it, then I'll put my hand on the table, and then Karen and
Burmese can rule equally in
Tell everything I've said to the Ringworms and we'll wait three days, then come and tell us if they accept or not." [Note: the promise to allow Karen soldiers on the road is not trustworthy, and most likely intended as a trap to lure KNLA soldiers into.]
Later all the villagers gathered to discuss this, and even without talking to the Karen soldiers the villagers agreed that we would not accept SLORC's proposal. So three days later we went back and told the officer just below the commander, "We told them and they didn't agree. They said they will keep laying mines and shooting at your trucks." Then he said, "Oh. If it's like that, then you villagers will have to pay for it. There's no other way." We said, "How can we pay? The Karen soldiers do it, not us. How can we find the money?" He answered, "Don't talk to me about it. Just pay, that's all we want. We control every village around here, so you'll just have to do what we say." The closer we look at SLORC, the more wrong are the things that they do, and they're getting worse and worse. They have their own rules and policies, but everything they do is against even the rules and policies they make themselves.
[The following is a transcript from a video-taped interview. The date is unavailable.]
Q. Why did you come here?
A. Because the Burmans oppress us. They ordered me to be a porter; they also ordered me to go get information about Karen soldiers for them, but I only went part way to the place, then I stayed at a house. The Burman soldiers came and found me there and said, "You must be Kaw Thoo Lei. You are not even just a relative of Kaw Thoo Lei, you are one yourself!"
I pleaded that I was not a Kaw Thoo Lei soldier, and said that I had gone to the place they sent me and come back. After they asked me one or two questions, they started to hit me. One of the second lieutenants with one star, named Myint Thein, hit me with a carbine rifle butt twice in my chest, and I couldn't breathe for a few minutes, which was terrible. The officer then ordered the soldiers to tie me up. After a few minutes I told the officer that I had gone to the place they asked, and I said, "Anyway how could I be Kaw Thoo Lei? If I was, I could never go as a porter for you."
The villagers couldn't see what was happening to me. The soldiers untied me, and I asked permission to cook. While I was cooking I heard two soldiers talking – they said, "Be careful of this man – he might try to run, because this evening we'll take him and maybe kill him." I was listening closely to them. So I decided to run away. I walked to the river bank, looked around to see that no one was looking, and ran.
I ran to my house and told my wife what happened, and that we should leave before the soldiers came to bother her. Later I heard that the soldiers came that evening and asked the villagers where my wife's house was; but my wife had already left the village.
Another time, 107 [Infantry] Battalion came and raped a girl. She shouted loudly but the soldier slapped her face. We went and told the Burmese commander about it because he had said, "If my soldiers do something bad to the villagers, come and tell me." But when we told him the commander just said, "Do you have more girls? If you do, bring some for me."
They come in the village, catch the women and kill the animals, so we don't have any animals there. Nothing at all. If we had pigs, they ate them all. The women dare not sleep alone at night. In a house even if there are three women and one man the soldiers don't care. They don't fear the man.
They rape the women, and when the women shout they slap their faces and pull their hair. In a village named Kyone Weh, there was a woman who was friendly with the Burmese but one night they went and raped her. She shouted loudly and yelled, "He's come to rape me", so the Burmese soldier hit her with his rifle butt here, on her head. Someone went and told the commander but he just said, "If you have another woman, tell that soldier to rape her too".
Karen soldiers came and fought, and the Burmese lost their post. Then the Burmese called all the village elders around to come to their camp. No one dared to go, but Pa Lu The village headman said, "I'll die for my village." He said to the villagers, "Please come and plead for me", and went. When he got to the camp they didn't even ask him any questions, just started punching and beating him until his face was so badly bruised we couldn't recognise him any more. Then the Burmese said, "We caught a ringworm – a Karen soldier". Then they took some villagers to their camp and asked them, "Do you know him?" When the villagers saw him they didn't even recognise him because his face was so badly beaten. His face and his whole body were covered in blood. The soldiers asked, "Do you recognise him? If you're sure you do, say yes." One villager said, "I think I know him." The soldiers said, "You'd better be sure. If you're not sure but you say you recognise him, you'll go the same way as him." Then no one dared vouch for him, and they came back to the village.
After the villagers left, the soldiers said to Pa Lu, "No one vouched for you." They took him to a field just beside the village, where there's a pond, and they cut his throat. They left the body there beside the village, where it would smell very bad. The villagers asked permission to bury him. When they saw his body they realised it was Pa Lu. So an old woman went to the soldiers to protest. The soldiers just said, "Don't be silly." They hit the old woman, and she ran back to the village.
Name: Daw BBBB—
Family: Married with 4 children
incidents and descriptions of the general situation were related by several
Karen women and one Karen man, from villages scattered throughout Karen areas
For many years I lived in
Last year on
Then the soldiers left them, and
Sergeant Ba Kyi and his men captured 9 women and
accused them of supporting the Karen Women's Organisation [a non-political,
non-revolutionary group dealing with the health and welfare of women and
children in their villages]. Their names were Naw Heh Say; age 28; Naw San Win, age
26; Naw Dah Dah, age 27; Naw Nay Blut, age 24; Naw Wah, age 29; Naw Kyu Kyu, age 23; Naw Hla Ngwe,
age 20; Naw Tin Kyi, age 15; and Naw
San Myint Htay, age 17. All
of them are from
They were all beaten brutally by Sgt Ba Kyi. The soldiers burnt off all of Naw Heh Say's head hair, and then her pubic hair as well. Sgt Ba Kyi raped her. She was also kicked in the face with army boots three times, and a soldier took off his boot and hit her in the face with that three times too. They also kicked her hard in the abdomen. Naw San Win was also raped by Sgt Ba Kyi, hit in the face with an army boot three times, and they stabbed her in both thighs with a bayonet.
The other seven women were not raped, but they were each lashed five times with a cane, then hit in the face with army boots four times each and also beaten. The women were then all tied up and taken away to Taungoo, 60 miles away, where SLORC threw them in Taungoo Jail. For the first two days in jail, none of them were given any food or water. On the second day, the women's families in the village got a message saying, "If you want your daughters back, submit 10,000 Kyat per head and take them." Their families managed to raise the money by selling all their livestock and belongings, leaving them with nothing, and then begging money from all their relatives until they had enough. Then they gave the money to the column commander, Lt Myo Tin, but the women were not released. The women's families were also told to bring food for the women, but when they got there all the food was taken and eaten by the warden and guards.
Now the women are still in Taungoo Jail. There has been no trial, and we get no news of them. We know they're alive, because their mothers have had a chance to see them once or twice, but it is impossible for their families to take anything to them because the guards just steal it all. Sgt Ba Kyi told them that if they pay another 10,000 Kyat for each woman, they will be released. Their families have no more money, so they went to the hills and asked the KWO for advice, and were told that they should not pay Ba Kyi because he is lying. So now all of those women's families have fled their village and are living in the hills where the KNU controls. Many others in their village, which used to have 100 houses, have also fled, but many are still there.
Everyone in our area knows about this
Sgt Ba Kyi. He has raped so many women that he has
become notorious. The worst time was in 1991 in Mit
Ta Yah Kweh Quarter of
Now in our area it is getting almost impossible for the villagers to survive. In the past the Burmese army stayed in the plains and the Karen army controlled the hills, so when the Burmese harassed the people they could run to the hills, clear a field and plant a crop. But now the Burmese troops come into the hills at clearing time and harvest time. Often when villagers in the hills clear land to grow a crop, they cut the trees and leave it all to dry, but then SLORC soldiers come along and burn the place before it's ready to be burned, spoiling it. Other times, they deliberately wait until harvest time, then come and steal or destroy all the crops. They do this constantly. Villagers have nothing but their farms, and if they can't harvest it's very hard for them. Now we can't grow any fruit trees or orchards either, because every year we have to run and stay in another place. Sometimes we can't even stay in one place for a whole year – only a few months or even a few days in each place. That's why the villagers have become destitute, can't buy clothes and can't even get enough food. They have to try and get just one or two measures [servings] of rice at a time, they can't even buy a whole tinful at once. We're very poor because we don't have enough rice, and we don't have enough rice because of the SLORC troops. People in the area have to stretch their rice by making rice gruel and throwing in bamboo shoots or whatever else they can find. Many children are malnourished, and people don't even have blankets or a change of clothing. Many children die; some women have 10 children but all of them die. I've had seven children, but when we had to run to the jungle two of them got sick and died because we had no medicine. Now I've only got four children left. Just two weeks ago, a child in the village was suffering cerebral malaria, so we gave him a quinine drip. But we only had one, so we borrowed a second one from another village for him. After that, the child seemed much better, but we had no more medicine to give him so he died. There were also a father and son in the village, and the father was an invalid, so his son went out to earn whatever he could to support him. Whenever he got anything, he sent rice to his father, even though he often couldn't get enough. The father felt so bad for his son that last rainy season, about the time when we weed the rice fields, he hanged himself. Many people kill themselves now.
Whenever the SLORC troops need money,
they look for the young boys who always watch their family's cattle, capture
them and ransom them for 1,000 Kyat each. They always do this around Ma Bee Po,
Ma Bee Doh, Wet La Daw, Thu Ke
Bee, and Thaun Po villages in
The soldiers also force all the villagers to take all our rice and store it in one place. Then we have to go and ask them for our ration once every three days. They give us 2 milk tins per day for each family member, but villagers can't survive on this much because we have to work very hard and eat a lot.
In late 1992, SLORC was retreating from their attack on U Mu Hta at harvest time, and they passed through the villages. Some of us had finished reaping our paddy, but others were still doing it. As soon as we heard they'd be passing near our villages, we just ran away quickly, and couldn't take hardly any of our possessions. We ran to the jungle, and when they came to our place they stayed there and destroyed all our paddy. They camped four days, took some of our belongings and destroyed the rest. They slaughtered our pigs, chickens and goats. There were three rice barns near the place. They ate all the paddy in two of the barns, and took the paddy left in the third barn and just scattered it; they couldn't eat it all so they destroyed it. On their retreat the Karen army ambushed them and killed 37 of them. The SLORC troops didn't even bury their men properly; they buried some men five to a grave, others weren't even completely buried, and they just threw a lot of the bodies down the ravine among the rocks. Others were stripped of their clothes and just left by the roadside. They only buried their officers properly. When we came back from hiding we noticed a horrible smell. Then we found all the dead bodies – 37 dead bodies is a lot. They had even left behind a badly wounded soldier. When the villagers found him, they interrogated him and then put him out of his misery. With all the dead bodies, we couldn't bear to stay in that village anymore, and we had to move.
SLORC can go almost everywhere in our area now, and they can get at the villagers, so whenever Karen soldiers attack them they take their revenge on all the villagers, and we suffer severely. Because of this, some villagers ask the Karen soldiers to please not attack the Burmese troops. But now, the SLORC troops are harassing us all so severely that many people also say to the Karen soldiers, "Why don't you attack them more? Please attack them – then we will die, but they will die too." It's getting so bad that many people just don't want to live anymore.
Name: Naw CCCC—
Family: Married with 2 children (age 9 and 12)
On 4 August this year , SLORC's IB 73, Coy 5, which is commanded by Zaw Win Nai, ordered the village headman who they'd appointed for Ko Nee village to go to their camp, and when he got there they asked him to name everyone in the village who's involved with the KNU or the KWO. The commander beat him and hit him so badly that he was coughing blood. After that he answered all their questions. Then the commander and his troops went into Ko Nee Village to capture all the KNU and KWO people there, but they had all got away. So they went into the village tract elder's house – his name is Pa Ghe Thay. They captured his wife and two daughters, beat and hit them and slapped their faces. His youngest daughter is about 8 years old, her name is Naw Kyi Paw. One of the soldiers ordered her to grab his penis, and then when she went over [to him] he just kicked her away very hard. She collapsed and was hurt very badly. After kicking her they left, went back to their camp and let the elder they'd tortured go back to the village. They ordered him to tell all the villagers not to have any contact with the Karen army, and that in future if they know any KNU people are coming, they must report it.
On 6 October this year , SLORC
BI 351 went to
The same thing happened on 15 October; the same troops went to Da Kaw Bwa Village, this time commanded by Maj Sin Kla, went into people's houses and searched through everything. A man named Nya Ko in the village sells medicine, and he knew they were coming so he hid all his medicine under his house on top of the chicken roost. The troops searched his house, and when they went to take his chickens they found the medicine, as well as a cassette tape he'd hidden there. They took all the medicine, the tape and his chickens back to their camp, and when they listened to the tape they found out it was a tape of Burmese students talking about what happened in 1988. So they came back and beat Nya Ko. Whenever they find a tape like that they beat the owner. Then they took Nya Ko back to Mone Army Camp and sent a message to his wife to bring rice for her husband. They told Nya Ko that if his wife brought rice he'd be freed, but when she got there they wouldn't let her see him. She gave the rice to the commander, but he said, "I don't want rice, I want money." Then they ordered the village elders to come, so they came and tried to vouch for Nya Ko, but the commander wouldn't listen. An elder went to Nya Ko in jail but the soldiers wouldn't let the elder see him – he could only talk to Nya Ko through the wall. Nya Ko said, "They beat me so badly that two of my ribs are already broken. At night I can't sleep, I only moan with the pain." The elder wanted to ask many more questions but the soldiers only let them talk for a minute. Then the elders had to leave, and later the soldiers killed Nya Ko.
Now the Burmese soldiers always come into the villages and order the villagers to give them rice and many other kinds of food. They never bring their own rations like in the past. Now they say, "You can feed the Karen soldiers so you have to feed us too." So the villagers have to pack rice for them; if 100 soldiers come then they have to make 100 packs of rice. It's very hard for them even if they have no food for themselves they must do this. The soldiers do this all the time, it's their habit now. They never think about how hard it is for the villagers. We have no money but must pay porter fees to the soldiers or else they take us as porters. The soldiers also come and catch people as porters. Everyone's very afraid to go, so we pay 4,000 or 5,000 Kyat, whatever they ask so as not to go as porters. They also order us to go and stand sentry duty, but everyone is also afraid to do this so we must pay them to avoid it. Last year the SLORC troops came to our village, called all the women together and ordered every one of us to give them 5,000 Kyat. We didn't have enough money, but we had to get it and give it to them anyway.
The villagers have so many hardships, but we just have to suffer them, and can't do anything about it. Things are not the same as they were at the beginning of Four Cuts [the Burmese army's program to cut off support to the resistance by attacking civilians] in 1974. Back then if they suspected you of having contact with rebels they caught you, put a number on you and put you in jail. Now they have no jail, so they catch people and if you give them all the money they ask, they let you go. If not, they kill you. Even if they let you go, first they ask you many, many questions about Karen soldiers and torture you very severely. If you want to go anywhere, even if you have a pass they don't care, they can just catch you and kill you. Life is very hard and rice is very expensive so many people can't buy it, and some become so desperate that they go and become SLORC spies for money. The spies tell SLORC everything, so if you try to meet or organise anything they know right away, and they come and capture everyone who is against them. This is happening everywhere.
Name: Naw DDDD—
In June 1993, SLORC came to K'Toh Tah Village and burned down the whole village. They destroyed a church that had just been built and burned a lot of timber. They also destroyed a monastery. While some of them burned the houses, others went around robbing jewellery from everyone in the village. They stole about 2 pounds of gold altogether, consisting of earrings, necklaces, etc. They captured all the villagers they could, took them back with them, forced them to work and ill-treated them. They seized the village headman, asked him a few questions and killed him. They found a green utility belt that he had, so they said he had some connection with Karen soldiers. But they don't need a reason to kill a man. The village headman was in his fifties.
Name: Naw EEEE—
Family: Married with children
Address: Kya In Township, Dooplaya District
Four years ago there was a SLORC spy
in our village, so the Karen soldiers came and killed him. SLORC wanted revenge
against our village, so because my husband was the headman they charged him
with murder, working with the rebels, resisting the government, and stealing
teak logs. All of these were false accusations, but he was arrested by Infantry
Battalion 32 and put in jail. He was tortured by SLORC. They tied him, kicked
and stomped on him and poured water down his nostrils. Then they covered his
head with a cloth and a plastic sheet until he almost suffocated, and then the
covering was removed. They kept doing this for more than a week, until he was
vomiting blood, passing blood in his urine and stools, and starting to have
convulsions. A doctor examined him and said his condition was critical, so they
let him go to
That same year SLORC came to occupy
From April to July this year SLORC built a bridge across the Ka Lee Kloh River. We don't know why they built it. They seized the village elders in Kya In and T'Kut Kee, and wouldn't let them stay in their villages. Every day they had to go build the bridge. SLORC took them every morning and sent them back every evening. In June, before it was done, Karen troops came and burned it. It was only partly destroyed, but then SLORC forced the villagers in the area to pay compensation of double the cost of the whole bridge, as well as being forced to provide unpaid labour to build it again. Villagers from Noh Tah Hsu, Kya In, Ther Ter, Kyaw Kay Ko, Meh K'Taw, Du Ker Kee and Da Ka Kee villages are being forced to do this. Now they're still working on this, and the villagers are left no time to work to provide for their families. SLORC has told them that if the bridge is ever damaged again, every villager will be shot.
Name: Saw FFFF—
Address: Wa Raw Township, Dooplaya District
For the last four years, SLORC has
made life very difficult for villages along the road from Theinbyuzayat
to Three Pagodas Pass. Some of these villages are now abandoned because when
SLORC came to occupy
When SLORC was rebuilding the road
from Theinbyuzayat to
1) Pah Prah
11) Yah Thaw Ta
21) Lay Naw
31) Htee Kler Nee
2) Noh Pa Taw
12) Waw Poh
22) Kwee K'Saw Kyee
32) Meh Klu
3) Noh Bu Law
13) Way K'Nat
23) Meh K'Wah
33) Kloo Th'Waw
4) Waw Taw
14) Kyauk P'Loo
24) Htee Maw Keh
34) Taung Dee
5) Noh Kwee
15) Lay Day
25) Meh K'Naw Kee
35) Myaing Gone
6) Lah Sha
16) Mee Yay Htaw
26) Kwee Hsaw Dee
36) Noh Play
7) Htee Toh Kaw
17) Doh Kaw Poo
27) Maw Khee
37) Maw Loo Taw
8) Pah Yah Hta Kaw
18) P'Naw Kleh Kee
28) Noh Hsoot Neh
38) Noh Th'Waw
9) Pah Yah Lah Kaw
19) Wah Maw Lay
29) Hkaw Kla
39) Ah Plone
10) Th'reh Kyaw
20) Koh Kaw
30) Lay K'Teet Kee
40) May Play
Now the BBC radio and the Bangkok Post [daily Thai newspaper] say that the SLORC gas pipeline will be built along this road [in 1993]. I haven't seen any pipes or foreigners yet, but SLORC is using about 100 convicts to do forced labour on the road. They all have chains between their ankles, which are connected to a chain around their waists. I don't know which prison they're from. They have to break and lay down rocks, then a steamroller comes to flatten it. The Karen soldiers are harassing and attacking the SLORC troops in charge to stop progress on the road. In one fight, three convicts escaped and ran to the Karen lines, so the Karen troops interrogated them, then broke their chains and freed them. Now the work is still going on, but they're not accomplishing much because of the fighting. The Karen army has to keep harassing SLORC, because if they stop then SLORC is free to come and harass the villagers.
Name: Naw GGGG—
Family: Married with 5 children
Address: Kru Tu Township, Dooplaya District
SLORC is very close to our village. Every month they make us pay 2,800 Kyat as "porter fees"; every village in the area has to pay that. As for their Asia Highway project [a project in cooperation with Thailand to extend the Asia Highway right through Burma], they demanded 40,000 Kyats from our village alone, and all the other villages had to pay too. We've also had to pay them 20,000 more for the road they're building from Chaung N'Kwat to Three Pagodas Pass. We have to give it to them; if we don't, then we can't stay there because they'll come and do very cruel things to us. The SLORC camp is only one hour's walk from our village, so they could come very easily. But as long as we pay the money they don't usually come.
In our area the SLORC troops are not as cruel as in other areas, but they can still be very cruel if they want to be; you just can't tell. Our village headman is very afraid, but they won't let him resign. They told him, "If you resign we will burn your village down." If they send for us and we don't go at once then they physically abuse the men. They say, "If you love the Karen you must also love us." We survive because we know how to answer them. You have to deal with them such that they can't get angry at you; you must be very humble. Only women can deal with them; if a man says something that displeases them, they will hurt him. We must be very frank and open; we say, "Children, don't go there. The Karen soldiers are there. We don't want to see you dead, we want to see you alive. Go back." They listen, and they are afraid too. This is how we can make them go away. But now that the rains are over, this coming month they will begin their road construction again, so it will be very hard for us again.
Name: Shwe HHHH—
Address: Wa Raw Township, Dooplaya District
On 28 April 1992, SLORC soldiers came to capture my brother and I at Noh Pa Taw Village because I am in the Karen Women's Organization. We barely managed to escape, but a man named Kyaw Ree Dee was left behind. The soldiers seized him and thought he was my brother, so they poured two buckets of water into his mouth. Then they took him down out of the house, tied him with rope and beat him with a big bamboo stick until he was all black and blue. After that they took him to Lah Sha Village. The monk, the village head and the village elders all pleaded with them to release him, but he was not released until a ransom of 5,000 Kyat was paid. On their return journey these same troops met a villager named Dah But from Noh Pa Taw. They seized him and beat him up, and he was only released after the villagers gave the soldiers two baskets of rice.
At Taungalay Village, SLORC seized Aunty Naw K'Net, because they'd heard that she was hiding ammunition for the Karen soldiers. They interrogated and beat her, and then they were going to pour a pot of boiling water down her throat – so she couldn't stand it any more and she confessed. The SLORC troops then stabbed her all over until the other villagers couldn't even bear to look at her anymore. Then they released her, and they found the ammunition.
As for Naw Aye Mo, her husband was shot by trigger-happy SLORC troops for no reason at all. Now she's left with two small children.
Now there are many bandits in our township, including one gang of 300 robbers. SLORC is now working together with them, using them to plunder and terrorise the villagers and protecting them from being punished.
Name: Naw IIII—
Address: Wa Raw Township, Dooplaya District
The stories I will tell you were all
told to me by the people who suffered these awful experiences. The SLORC troops
that did all these things are from No. 106 Infantry Battalion, commanded by Thiha Thura Sit Maung, and one of
the officers involved is Bo Myint Aye. These troops
have seized many innocent men who had done no wrong and had no bad intentions.
They torture these simple villagers using methods so cruel that we could never
have imagined them in our wildest dreams. They use methods that do not leave a
visible trace afterwards. One time they dripped water onto the villagers' palms
and their heads, drop by drop, from morning until . They accused these
harmless villagers of being spies, and then cross-examined them even though
they are just uneducated farmers who have never hurt anyone. They led them to
the cemetery with their hands tied behind their backs and their heads covered
with plastic bags. But the monks and the village headman followed them and
pleaded for the soldiers not to kill those innocent men, so they were led back
to the village. SLORC knew these men were not involved in any activity against
them, but they were running out of supplies and did it as an excuse to get rice
and other food from the villagers. They took the men to their camp at Loo Sha, and then the villagers had to give 6 baskets of rice
[about 150 kg] to free each of them. The three men who they tortured were Haw Hsoo, Mu Klu,
and Aung Myint Sein, all from
I know a woman named Ma Ohn Kyi in
Name: Aung Thein
Family: Wife deceased, three children
Occupation: Farmer paddy and fruit orchard
Interviewed: 29-30 November 1994
Q. When where you relocated, and to what location?
A. Starting in 1991, nine villages in
Q. Why did they relocate you?
A. They said they wanted to free us from rebel groups and the Democratic People's Army.
Q. How far were you relocated?
A. It was about a four hour walk. However, because of the rains, we could only carry a few things on a bamboo raft down the stream. We could not take all of our rice. We only had a little food with us.
Q. How many families from your village were moved?
A. There were about seven families, or nearly 380 people.
Q. What if you refused to go?
A. SLORC soldiers said that if we refuse, they would kill us.
Q. Were any villagers killed?
A. Three villagers were killed on suspicion of being insurgents. About five others were put in prison. Later 14 more were arrested. Four were released within four years. The rest are still in prison I guess.
Q. Why were they arrested?
A. The soldiers said they violated Act 17.1 which says it is a crime to be against the government.
Q. Did you know any of those killed?
A. I knew one of them. He was Kyaw Thein, a 35 year old Karen Buddhist. He was stabbed to death.
Q. Did you see it happen?
A. Yes. I was a porter at the time and saw them kill him in the rice field.
Q. How did they do it?
A. They tied his hands behind his back and beat him with bamboo sticks. They beat him for at least two hours while interrogating him. He was beaten on the back, the head, and on the arms. After two hours of beating, they stabbed him in the back.
Q. How far away were you when you saw this happen?
A. About 60 meters.
Q. What work did you do in the camp?
A. We were forced to work on a rubber plantation and we were given no salary.
Q. Who owns the plantation?
A. The military owns the plantation. It is not less than 10,000 acres large. The law says that all labourers must be paid, but we never received anything. The local LORC officials would report how many labourers were in the plantation, and then pocket the money allocated for salaries.
Q. Who worked on the plantation?
A. All of the people, men, women and children, had to work. I think they relocated us to this area because they needed our labour on the plantation. I don't think it had anything to do with security.
Q. What else did you have to do?
A. We were also forced to dig ponds
for shrimp farming. This site was quite far from the relocation camp. It is in Kanethari, about one day's walk from the camp and very near
the ocean. It is in
Q. Tell me about the ponds?
A. A total of about 13,000 people were working at the site. We had to dig a big pond and also an 8-foot-high dike to keep the sea water out. We had to prepare our own food at in the morning, and then start work at Our meal was at and then we worked again from to It was the rainy season, so it was very difficult. We had no shelters, so had to live with other villagers in the area nearby. Some of us took shelter in schools or monasteries.
The dike was very long, stretching for several miles. Shortly after we finished the work, a high tide came, washing it all away. All of our work was for nothing. The SLORC engineers did not plan it well. They did not use any cement or other reinforcement. Only a dirt dike.
SLORC had a budget of 300,000 Ks to pay us workers, but the local officials kept all of the money for themselves. We provided free labour for them.
Q. SLORC often tells the international
community that there is no forced labour in
A. That is not true. We are definitely forced to work. Most of the people can not even produce enough to feed their families when they work full-time on their farms. It is impossible for us to donate any of our labour in such a situation. We are forced to work. Those who fail to work are punished, and sometimes locked in leg irons all day long. They have to pay the officials if they want to be released.
Also, every family in the camp must give the military three bundles of fire wood every month. Each of the nine villages are also forced to provide the soldiers with two pairs of bullocks for carrying water. These bullocks are worth about 14,000 Ks each. This is an impossible burden for the people.
Q. Did you have to work on the Ye-Tavoy Railroad?
A. Yes. In February of 1994, I was first forced to work on the railroad.
Q. Did SLORC explain why the railroad was to be build?
A. They said it was being built to carry
goods from upper
Q. Tell me something about work on the railroad.
We were sent to Maung Mae Shaung camp along the railroad line. The first task was to clear the way. A strip at least 40 yards wide had to be cleared. The railroad itself is 5 yards wide, and then a strip more than 10 yards wide on each side also had to be cleared.
The railroad runs through many old rubber plantations, so we had to clear out all of the trees. Some of the trees were very large; at least 15 feet in circumference.
The first group had to clear a length of four miles. Some people died during this time. They were usually killed by falling trees. I also saw some die from malaria. There was very little medicine for fever, etc.
Q. What was the area like through which the railroad passed?
A. It was farms and gardens, and some rubber plantations. The owners o the farms did not even dare to request compensation. In fact, most of them were even afraid to say they owned the land. We also cleared out many sugar and betel nut plantations.
Q. Tell me about the working conditions.
A. In the morning we worked from to . Then from to We ate at We had to carry all of our own food. Nothing was provided for us.
Q. Were the workers only men?
A. No. Men, women and even children worked.
Q. What else happened?
A. Every evening each person had to carry firewood back to the camp. This was collected as we cleared the rail line. At the camp we had to give the firewood to the soldiers and they sold it to local villagers. We received nothing. Since we had to provide all of our own food, we had to spend at least 3,000 Ks during the two days we worked on the railroad. This was for our food, medicine and even our transportation.
A. What are your strongest memories during your time on working on the railroad?
1) We had to pay all of our own expenses while working. To get enough money, we had to sell all of our possessions.
2) We had to freedom at all – no time to relax.
3) We were always guarded, just like prisoners.
4) We were forced to go work on the railroad. However, when we arrived at the site, the soldiers demanded that we pay 10 Ks each for the privilege of working on the railroad.
Q. Tell me a little more about the camp you lived in when working on the railroad.
A. The camp was about four miles from
the railroad in
There was a river nearby which we could use for water. The women had to work as hard as the men, carrying big baskets of soil, etc.
Q. Was the camp crowded?
A. Physically it was not so crowded, but mentally it was extremely tight.
Q. Why and how did you leave?
A. I was in the relocation camp for four years. I had no chance to work in my fruit garden and sell my own produce. I was forced to work for SLORC the entire time. This it too difficult. Finally I just walked out and came to the border. Three of my children soon followed me. My one daughter is married and has a small child. She is still in the relocation camp.
Q. What message would you give the international community if you could talk to them?
A. I would tell them that life under SLORC is like this. An army commander from Regiment [IB] 404 named Soe Than Naing, promised to build a pagoda for us. We collected a total of 300,000 Ks to build it. After the construction was finished, 90,000 Ks was left over. A village leader called U Zan Thii used the money to buy his own personal car. Everyone was very sad and hurt by that action.
Q. What would you tell SLORC?
A. I dare not talk to them at all. If I talk, I will be tortured and killed.
Q. What must happen in
A. The leaders must be changed. We can not live like this any longer. Every level of SLORC is the same. All ask money from the villagers. Each level, from the village up to the national leaders, simply keep the money for their own personal use.
Q. What will you do now?
A. All I want is to be able to go back home. I always think of my relatives and the other 6 villagers still there. I want to rebuild my village and live with them again. I want to farm my paddy field, and harvest my fruit trees.