human rights foundation of monland

 

* To monitor human rights situations in Mon territory and other areas southern part of Burma

* To protect and promote internationally recognized human rights in Burma

 

Human Rights Interviews 1/95 (March, 1995)

 

P. O. Box 11, Ratchburana, Bangkok 10140, Thailand

 

 

Human Rights Interviews 1/95

 

Background of Interviews

 

In October of 1994, the SLORC (the Burma's military regime State Law and Order Restoration Council) restarted the well known Ye-Tavoy death railway in southern part of Burma, which connects the Mon State and Tenasserim Division. When the SLORC started the railway construction last dry season 1993, many local inhabitants were conscripted as slave labours in this construction and since then many villagers were displaced in east of Ye-Tavoy motorway (See: location) by escaping the conscription of the military.

 

The villagers who took refuge in jungle of mountainous area east of Ye-Tavoy motorway could grow the rice in last rainy season and they survived for their families. But in this dry season (the dry season in Burma starts from October until May), because of the conscription of slave labours in railway construction, many local inhabitants from areas in the route of railway had to flee to this mountainous areas again where they have no enough food and have faced many difficulties. When the civilians escaped from their villages, even some villagers brought the foods with them, and later the SLORC troops issued many orders to prevent keeping rice in places they stayed. Starting from November, some commanders of SLORC Light Infantry Battalion No. 410 issued an official order for the locality. (The order is attached). Besides this order, many the same orders were issued by local SLORC troops in Yebyu Township of Tenasserim Division and Ye township of Mon State. After those official order, the SLORC has legal rights to confiscate rice of civilians who are staying outside the villages.

 

Besides for the cases of fleeing of villagers to escape from slave-labours of railway construction and confiscation of rice from local inhabitants, other kinds of human rights abuses, like portering, tax extortion, torture, etc., were severely violated by the SLORC soldiers. After the SLORC started the railway construction in 1993, many SLORC's military battalion were deployed in the areas where the railway route passed through. Therefore, the SLORC troops have consistently mistreated those local inhabitants.

 

To collect the information from the Mon local community, a group of human rights workers from Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) had travelled to the areas where many internal displaced persons have been hiding and some plantation areas east of Ye-Tavoy motorway in first week of March. The following interviews were come out from those victims who were mistreated by SLORC soldiers.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Case 1

 

Name: Nai Pone Dot

Sex/ Age: Male, 37 years

Nationality/ Religion: Mon, Buddhist

Occupation: Farmer

Native Place: Kyaukadin village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division

 

Recently, I was tortured many times by the SLORC troops, and I would like to tell about the torture last year. Last year, in one day of April, the 90 SLORC troops from Local Infantry Battalion No. 106 which based in Tavoy, led by Lt. Maung Latt, arrived to my farm. They arrested me and asked the place where the Mon troops took base near my farm. I replied I did not know and I never saw the Mon troops within one week. And they beat me for several times and some young soldiers kicked me with the military boots. After that they tied and brought me to the village as they accused I refused to tell them the place of Mon troops. When they arrived at the village, they asked for 1000 Kyat and then released me.

 

I went to my farmland again as I was busy in there for preparing to grow rice in rainy season. One week later, about 40 troops of Battalion No. 406 came again and arrested me by accusing I tried to join Mon troops and supported them. They accused me that as I needed to contact and support the Mon troops, I had stayed in farm with a lot of rice and other materials. They tied me and beat me several times like before. They confiscated all my belongings in my hut including all amount of rice and raised animals in the farm and they brought me to the village. They detained in a small military outpost near our village and asked my wife to pay them 10,000 Kyat for release of me. After that my wife tried to collect for 10, 000 Kyat in one week and gave them and they released me. When I was detained, they beat and kicked me every days for several times and gave very small food.

 

As other villagers, in last and this year, I was conscripted as slave-labour in the Ye-Tavoy railway construction. I worked in the construction four times for more than one month at a time last year and one time this year. We brought our own food and no any payment. When I feel sick, we bought medicines by ourselves.

 

After I was terribly tortured in December of this cold season, I decided to escape from my village. In the second week of December, about 100 troops of Light Infantry Battalion No. 408 arrested me again in my home and detained in their outpost, by accusing me as Mon soldier. When they asked to admit I was a Mon soldier, they beat, hanged me near the fire and dried me for many day. Every time I refused as I was not a Mon soldier, beat and put me close to the fire. And my wife sold our own farmland and gave the troops 50,000 Kyat to release me. After they tortured me for ten day, I was unable to work any kind of hardworks like before. I could not sleep with my back. If I carried some less heavy material, my back and stomach are too pain. After I sold my farmland, I decided to abandon my village and fled into jungle like this.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Case 2

 

Name: Nai Baeng

Sex/ Age: Male, 36 years

Nationality/ Religion: Mon, Buddhist

Occupation: Farmer

Native Place: Natkyisin village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division.

 

In December of 1994, when I was in busy with works to store my small amount of rice in my farmland, about 70 Burmese soldiers from Light Infantry Battalion No. 406 arrived to my hut at night time. After they arrived, they immediately arrested me and beat me for several time. They tied my hands and asked me why I made rice storage in my farmland and why not bring it to the village. And they accused me my rice was stored for Mon troops nearby and beat me as punishment. I refused all of their accusations on me. I replied that as I wanted to make a new plantation for betel nut and I needed to store rice in my farmland, but they did not listen my words. They asked me for one sack of polished rice to give them and I agreed it. Even I agreed for their requests, they also took my raising animals, pots and other my belongings in my hut. They told me if I put a lot of living stocks in my hut, the Mon troops can use as their base.

 

Because I kept rice in my farmland, they accused I must know the place where the Mon troops took bases and ordered me to find out those places, arrested me with them. And they used me as porter by carrying the shell of 60mm or 80 mm and other ammunition which I did not know which kinds of it. I thought actually they launched the patrol along the Ye-Tavoy motorway, and asked me all the time along the way where the Mon troops took bases. As I did not know the actual base of Mon troops, I replied I did not know for sure and they always beat me with their rifle butt because they did not satisfy to me. They never also allowed me enough to sleep at night time, and give me only one meal for everyday. Among more than 30 porters, I was the most terribly one, was tortured by them as they arrested me in my farmland while I was storing rice. All of the porters were used as human shields in front of troops, but, luckily, we have not met any fighting from rebel troops along the way.

 

After one week I was with troops, I had a chance to escape from them which they were busy in catching chicken and pig in one farm. After I escaped from them, I hid in one place of east of motorway in forest. Two days, I had contact with one of my villager and I told him to help me to inform my family I was hiding in forest. The villager returned to my village and after one week he came to me again. And he told me my wife informed me that the officer of LIB No. 406 was angry too much too me and ordered to the village headmen to bring all of my rice to the military outpost as punishment for my flee. They confiscated all of my rice although my wife asked them to leave a little bit. Therefore, my wife informed me not to return back to the village and she joined me and we decided not to return back to village as we are too afraid the Burmese soldiers and to make a new slash and burnt farm in this area.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Case 3

 

 

Name: Nai Tat Kyaw

Sex/ Age: Male/ 40 years

Nationality/ Religion: Mon, Buddhist

Occupation: Farmer

Native Place: Aleskan village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division

 

At the beginning of November last year, about 70 troops of SLORC's Light Infantry Battalion No. 410 arrested me as porter in my farm. The took all of my belongings in my hut including some clothes, plates, pots and chicken for their troops. Firstly, I carried rice, oil and milk cans for soldiers along with the troops which I though they launched patrol to take security the railway construction. After two days I carried foods for them, later they changed ammunition in stead of food to carry. The unknown ammunitions and shells were too heavy for me, because I was weak in sickness of last two weeks ago. Everyday, they gave us very small foods of plain rice without any curry while they had enough food for them as they caught some chicken from the farms they passed through. They did not feed us although we carried chicken. One time, when one porter became sick, he asked for small amount sugar and they beat him severely that showed us as a lesson not to ask food from them. I was also slapped three times by one officer because I delayed for boiling water. I lasted for 10 day for portering and when the troops reached to Yebu village, they released me.

 

Like others, I was also conscripted as forced labour in the railway construction in dry season of last year, and in December to January of this year, nearly one month, I was again conscripted in construction of military barracks in Yebu village. Following the order of the military, the village headmen told the villagers that the military need 20 strong men from our village to construct the military barrack in Yebu. Because of the conscription of railway construction and portering, many of our villagers had fled from village and there were very few of men left in the village. As I was served as porter just previous month, I informed the village headmen about it and I refused to go the construction sites. In the evening, two soldiers from the outpost of my village came to me and kicked two time, and they said the portering case was related with this construction. They ordered me to go as quickly as. Therefore, in the early morning of the next day, I went to the construction site without any transportation charge offered by military and I brought my own foods.

 

At the time I was in the construction site of Yebu, the construction process of military camps was administrated by Lt. Yan Naing Aung from the LIB No. 410 together with his 60 troops. Everyday, we started the works at 6:00 a. m. early in the morning and took lunch at noon time and in the afternoon, we continued the works about 1:30 p. m. until 6:00 p. m. in the evening. In this labour camp, nearly 100 men from the villages surrounding the Ye-Tavoy motorway. Also, they did not allow any villager who was in sick to return their home. Anyway, they did not provide any treatment and the villagers gathered some small amount of money from each other and bought the medicines from the village. After those men were recovered they must have to replace for their absent labour when they were in bed because of sickness. One villager also died as he was weaker and weaker because of malaria in the worksite. I also laid down in bed twice when I suffered from malaria. The first time lasted about 7 days and the second time lasted about 5 days. Even though, my quota for the construction is 2 weeks, I had to replace for the days I was absent and I had spent nearly one month in that construction site.

 

Before I fled from my village, I was severely tortured by the soldiers in my village. One day at the end of January, when I came from my farm with some vegetable and fruits for my relatives and my wife, I saw many Burmese soldiers, about 50 of them from Local Infantry Battalion No. 61 of Ye, had arrived in village and they requested me to give all of my vegetables and fruits for them, I refused and returned to my house. Some of them followed to my house and asked me, if I did not to give them my vegetable and fruit, to provide them 1000 Kyat and one bottle of liquor. The 1000 Kyat is too much for me and I tried to refuse, but my wife prevented me and gave them 1000 Kyat and one bottle of liquor. Again, they said they wanted to drink liquor in my house and my wife allowed them. After they were getting drunk, they made some interrogation to me about why I stayed in the farm and did I have some contact with Mon soldiers. After they made me many problems, I was getting angry and I went to the village chairman and tell him about them. The village leader told me that he would inform about that to their officer and to ask for my lost money as he hoped the officer will punish his soldiers. And I returned to my home.

 

After the chairman informed the officer, the officer called me to meet him in the monastery and I happily went there. But after I talked about 2 minutes, I knew the officer dissatisfied to me and he gave an order to his men beside him to beat me. So the two soldiers beat me in a room of monastery and I jumped down from the window of the room which was opened. When I was at the ground, about 40 soldiers beat me together. Some kicked me and some beat me with their rifle butts in the whole body. While they were beating me, I saw one small child under the monastery and I shouted him to inform the village secretary. The child ran away and informed about me to the secretary. The secretary came immediately and he stopped the soldiers not to punish me for my wrong and to pardon me. I was firmly holding the leg of the secretary to prevent from their beatings and kickings. Actually, I was nearly died. And the officer came to me and pointed out with his .45 mm pistol to my head and told me later when the soldiers asked something to me, not to make any argument and threatened if I made arguments next time, he will kill me.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Case 4

 

Name: Nai Lon

Sex/ Age: Male, 43 years

Nationality/ Religion: Mon, Buddhist

Occupation: Farmer

Native Place: Paukpingwin village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division.

 

From the railway construction started last year, we were always busy with the railway construction works, we did not have enough time to do our own work or in farms. In last dry season, I was conscripted as slave-labour for six times which one time took more than one week period. Again, in the rainy season, we had very little time to grow rice in the farm as the military forced us to build their military barrack which was close to my village. After the rainy season, we were forced again in the railway construction. Beside the construction work, we had to pay many kinds of taxation for the military, like porter tax, village security tax, donation for building bridges and etc., and at the end we had no longer tolerance to survive in village. So, last two month, I and my two sons fled into jungle in the area called "Day Tawai". I have no wife as she died last two years ago and I have youngest 3 years old child. I have three sons, while the 17 years old eldest son and the youngest son are with me and my second son was attending school in village and staying with my sister.

 

One day when we were in Day Tawai, I cannot remember the exact date, I think in second week of January, one company of Burmese troops of 50 soldiers of, might be, LIB 406, arrived to my hut while we were sleeping in mid day, they arrested both of us. They told us to follow them as porters. I replied to take one of us, me or my son, but they refused. They said they needed both of us. I explained them for several time that I have 3 years old son and should not put him alone in hut, and to consider with sympathy. They consistently refused. When I and my eldest son were taken by them, I heard my child was crying. Luckily, after I left about half hour from hut, I met one old women in a hut, while the soldiers were trying to catch her chicken, and I explained about my son who was left in my hut. As soon as we left from her hut, she went to my hut and brought him to her hut. Later, she brought my son to my sister house in the village.

 

When I and my son, altogether about 40 porters, were along with their troops, I carried rice and other foods for the troops. My son carried a lot of ammunition for light machine gun that I knew he was too heavy. After two days, my son got injuries in his shoulders. I gave my longyi to protect his shoulders. He pained too much and I asked to the officer to allow me for carrying the ammunition of my son. But the officer shouted me gave me another ammunitions which were not from my son. After 5 days with troops, because of heavy loads, I became sick with malaria when we arrived one village called Koemile. My son and I asked the officer to release me as I was sick. But they refused and told us to give them 4000 Kyat per each and they would release. They said they would find two porters to replace for us with this amount of money. But I was sure that they would not hire any villagers with this money. Anyhow, I agreed with them to find out some money and asked them to allow me to return to Aleskan village. They disagreed on that and kept me with them and, allowed my son to return Aleskan within 24 hours to return back. As my son was worry for me, he quickly borrowed money and returned back immediately. After my son gave them 8000 Kyat, they released us.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Case 5

 

Name: Nai Ba San

Sex/ Age: Male, 54 years

Nationality/ Religion: Mon, Buddhist

Occupation: Farmer

Native Place: Paukpingwin village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division.

 

As I have small farmland, I got only 40 baskets of unpolished rice this year. As I borrowed some rice from some villagers in the rainy season, and so I had to return them 20 baskets of unpolished rice. So, I have only 20 baskets of rice left in my farm in December. I think in the third week of January, after I had returned some rice to whom I borrowed, while I was bringing the remaining rice to my home in the village, about 70 troops of LIB No. 406 came to farm. All farmers in the surrounding fled away but I could not flee, because I was on the bullock-cart. And, they stopped my cart and they asked me where I was bring the rice. I replied them that I brought to my home. But they did not believe and accused me that I brought to the Mon troops as they got information they said. I absolutely refused. And, they asked me why I was too late to bring my rice to the village. Although I explained them I was busy in returning the rice to the farmers who I borrowed last rainy season, they did not accept my explanation at all.

 

After that the officer ordered me to bring all of my rice to the military outpost of Aleskan. Some soldiers put about 60 coconuts and other belongings on my cart, ordered to drive the cart to Aleskan. Then, as I was afraid for the killing, I did not make more complaint and drove back my cart to their military outpost. Some soldiers followed behind my cart and they also used some villagers, some were from my village, as porters who they arrested on the way they passed through.

 

In the evening, I arrived to the military outpost and the officer from the outpost ordered me to put all of my rice in the rice mill to polish it. When I arrived back to my home without rice in the cart, my wife cried as she knew, the rice was confiscated by military. On the next day, my wife went to the military outpost of Aleskan and requested to return half of the rice and to sympathy our children. But they did not care. And they replied to my wife that if we needed the rice, I must meet and discuss with them to return the rice, and I must admit that I was supporter of the rebels. Therefore, I did not dare to stay in my village or to meet them in future. I knew they will make problem to me and I decided to flee from my village. But I do not know can I return and work in my farm in this coming rainy season. Wait and see!

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Case 6

 

Name: Nai Nee

Sex/ Age: Male, 50 years

Nationality/ Religion: Mon, Buddhist

Occupation: Farmer

Current Place: Nangbone

Native Place: Aleskan village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division.

 

In the afternoon of one day, at the end of December, when we took a rest in the house, about 150 troops of LIB 406, I think the troops were led by 3 commanders, arrived immediately to my house and I suddenly tried to flee. But I could not. They arrested me and other my family members including my wife and even my small grandsons. They asked me why I fled when they came and am I a rebel. I refused that I was not Mon soldier. They hit and beat me with rifle butts three time. And one commander warned me against fleeing and they will shoot if I tried to escape, and ordered me to find two bullock-carts for them. So, two soldiers pointed in my back with their guns and, as I was afraid, I quickly tried to get two bullock-carts and I got for the huts nearby. They separated their troops to every huts and arrested the people, destroyed or burnt the huts and seized the rice. After two hours activities, they had burnt some huts and, they got some rice and some people with them and brought the rice to Aleskan.

 

Not only the rice, if they climbed to one hut, they took for everything, including chicken, pigs, clothes, spoons, plates, pots, blankets and etc., with them by using the villagers as porters to bring those materials. After they conscripted us and confiscated our belongings, when we were on the way to Aleskan, we knew the Mon troops in the mountains nearby. But the Mon troops had no chance to fight the Burmese troops because many peoples were with them and they were mixing with villagers.At the first time, they confiscated about 10 baskets of my rice.

 

In the second time, about 50 troops of Regular Infantry Battalion No. 104 came into the Nangbone area again as an operation to confiscate the rice of the villagers. In this time, all of us fled away and I was not arrested by them. But I could not bring the 4 baskets of polished rice which left in my house. They could arrest one of my nephew, 11 years old, used him as human shield, not as a porter and took all of my polished rice. They also severely beat the villagers who were arrested as they could not get many villagers to use as human shields. They burnt or destroyed many huts which situated on the way they passed through. Now, I deeply moved in deeper place of jungle and mountainous area.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Case 7

 

Name: Nai L.....(former village headman)

Sex/ Age: Male, 55 years

Nationality/ Religion: Mon, Buddhist

Occupation: Farmer

Native Place: Koemile village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim village.

 

At the beginning of January, while I was cutting the bamboos in forest that east of the village, about 70 troops of Light Infantry Battalion No. 406, led by Lt. San Way, came to me and ordered one of his senior officer to slap me, as soon as they closed to me. But I did not like to escape, because as soon as I was slapped, I did not know for the reason and I wanted to know it very much. The two soldiers also hit and when I was laid in the ground, Lt. San Way came and slapped me one time again.

 

And Lt. San Way accused me that I was the supporter of Mon troops, by the reason I did not attend the meeting which was held in last month and for my permanent stay in my betel nut plantation. I admitted sincerely that I did not know the date of the meeting and I did not accept any invitation as I always spent my time in my betel nut plantation. I told them many reasons why I did not stay in village and refused their accusation. But they did not accept any my argument. Consistently, they accused me that I was appointed by Mon troops as a township level leaders. I absolutely refused the accusation and I explained them that I was elected by villagers in front of LIB No. 410 at the time in the monastery and why the accusation appeared I was appointed by the Mon troop. They told me because I had no chance to manage in the village, I approached to the Mon troops again. Anyhow, they did not want to accept my complaints and at the end they tied and brought me to their outpost.

 

In their outpost of Aleskan, they tortured me and threatened they will imprison me in jail with a crime having contact with insurgent group. I admitted to them that when I was a village headman, if the Mon troops needed to meet me, I could not refused. As the same, if the Burmese troops wanted to meet me, I could not refuse. Recently, I met Mon troops many times outside of the village, but I did not cooperate with them and did not consider to make troubles to Burmese troops as I was village headman in the conflict area, I must relate for the both sides and kept good relationship to both troops. I explained them to understand my role. Anyhow, they did not accept. Then, they told me if I did not want the imprisonment with crime having contact with Mon troops, they told me to give them 7,000 Kyat and four sacks of rice for their troops. And I agreed and I told to the my son to sell the rice in the house and to give them quickly. After my son brought four sacks of rice and 7, 000 Kyat, they released me. Therefore, I decided not to stay in the village and stayed far away from the Burmese troops.

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

The SLORCís Order Translated from Burmese

 

410th Light Infantry Battalion

Letter No: 100 / l /head-3

Date: 12th November 1994

 

 

To

Chairman,

Village Law and Order Restoration Council

---------------------------------village

 

SUBJECT: Issuance of order for the locality

 

(1) ††The villagers living within this area must obey all the following order.

 

a.†††† They (the villagers) must not run away if and when they are encountered (anywhere) by the tatmadaw troops and must remain right at the place being encountered; otherwise (if they run away), they will be shot and arrested (by the tatmadaw troops).

 

b.†††† Those villagers who are found serving as informers/ messengers for insurgents will be subject to severest punishment (by the tatmadaw troops).

 

c.†††† They (the villagers) must not travel from one village to another during the night.

 

d.††† They (the villagers) must not keep any extra food at their farms, other than the amount of one meal for the farm worker(s) available; if foods more than the allowed amount is found on their farms, it will all be seized and destroyed (by the tatmadaw troops).

 

e.†††† Only one person is allowed to stay on each farm as a farm guard during the night; if more than one person is found staying on a farm (in the night time), they will be regarded as insurgents and as such will be subject to legal actions (by the tatmadaw troops).

 

f.†††† Those villagers who stay on their farms at night must make and keep up (wood) fire the whole night (at their farm huts)

 

(2)†† The village headmen must in advance inform each and every member of their respective village community of all the details of this order, and at the same time must ensure that all members of their village community definitely obey this order.

 

(3)†† This is to inform (the village headmen) that the tatmadaw will severely and forcefully take actions against those who fail to obey this order.

 

 

Signed: Commander (pro tem)

410th Light Infantry Battalion