* 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 foundation of monland
Human Rights Report 6/95 (August 16, 1995)
Population Displacement in Tavoy District
Effects of Railway and Gas pipeline Constructions
Recently during BSPP (Burmese Socialist Programme Party) time, the Burmese military adopted a policy of "ethnic cleansing" against ethnic nationalities and implemented that policy with "four cuts campaign" strategy. In its four cuts campaign strategy, the BSPP government and its military forces tatmadaw launched several operations to cut off recruitment of local villagers to be rebels, information and connection between local community and armed oppositions, supplies and taxes to armed oppositions. Tatmadaw used such strategy for twenty years, the local community suffered for long period in the campaign. In this strategy, the military mainly relocated several villages, which were alleged as strategic hamlets of armed opposition, into areas where the Burmese troops established strong military camps Those terrible and brutal forced relocations were never publicized in reports of human rights groups or discussed in international problems solved table much, in that BSPP time. The sufferings of local ethnic communities remained in complete isolation in Burma.
However, after the Burmese military with new name SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) seized political power with a bloody in 1988, the world started focussing on human rights record of SLORC. In SLORC time, the human rights informations for both rural and urban areas are probably well documented and the most widely condemnations have been publicized by world community and UN General Assembly as well. However, such condemnations were unable to change SLORC role in violating human rights abuses and its local troops have perpetually committed the brutal actions against local inhabitants in which the military were operating the offensives or implementing the infrastructure projects of government. Related to such infrastructure projects, the local inhabitants have suffered from forced relocation or dislocation, forced labours and forced porters. Why the military government would like to implement for several development projects in rural areas, which arc not their actual responsibilities? Since 1989-90, the SLORC attempted to evolve into new strategy to control a long-term political, economy and military administrations in both rural and urban areas of Burma.
In southern part of Burma,
because of the protracted civil war between the Burmese military and Karen, Mon
liberation armies, the conflict areas have been consistently unsafe for any
infrastructure project of government to implement. The ethnic armed opposition
groups always attempted to destroy the government projects because of
disagreement on which the Burmese military always forced the local ethnic villagers
to be free labourers and exploitation of ethnic's natural resources in
concerned areas. To create safe situation of their projects, the current
military regime in
Since 1993 October, the SLORC
constructed the 110 miles (760 kilometers) long Ye-Tavoy railway which
connecting Mon State and Tenasserim Division. In this constructing process, the
military has continuously and forcefully subjected the local Mon, Karen,
Tavoyan inhabitants as slave labours and in estimation about 120,000 up to
150,000 local inhabitants have been forced to be free labourers through the
period of 1993-94 dry season (October to June) of Burma. In rainy season
of 1994, the military stand stilled its construction. Again, in dry season of
1994-95, the military conscripted the villagers for construction. Because of
appalling consequences of last year, many local inhabitants had to escape and
avoid from becoming slave labours. While some villagers fled to border refugee
camps, other villagers displaced in jungles or sea coast. Population
displacement is widespread around the Tenasserim Division of Burma. Anyhow, the
military could complete a short part of construction, from Yebyu to Tavoy.
Beside the railway construction, the military also conscripted local villagers
as slave labours in constructing the military camps concerning to security
establishment of planned gas pipeline construction. SLORC have constantly defended
for its usage of slave labours in several development constructions in
Through the process of the constructions, the military has made destruction the community's survival in halting them not to fish in limited water zone around the planned offshore gas pipeline areas and has barred them not to reside in their farmlands or fruit plantation. Accompanying with purpose of gas pipeline route security, many Karen and Tavoyan villages on the right along the route have been forcefully relocated away. Then, mostly Mon villages situated on the sea coast where fishing inhabitants have resided a long period, are perceived as posing a threat to the pipeline have been moved by the military. A created problems like forced labours, forced porters, tax extortions by the military, brought many hardships for those local inhabitants to survive in their own village and escaped from there of their own accords.
Along the route of railway and gas pipeline, large area of forests, plantations and farmlands has been destroyed or confiscated without compensation by the military. So far the military's created environmental degradation must suffer to local community in future. The plunder of ethnic's natural resources and destruction of community traditional living stocks and the failure of government for the improvement of civilian's living standard in areas of Tenasserim Division and Mon State must doubtless endanger for population of next generations of the ethnic communities.
Corruptions Related to Constructions
Under the rule of military
regime SLORC, all development projects in
In case of cutting trees for hardwoods, the military officials ever claimed that they used those hardwoods and lumbers in building military camps, schools, clinics, labour camps, and etc.,. But, according to the villagers, they had used only small amount of those hardwoods and lumbers in the development projects and they sold large amount of it. The military officials also take profits by selling the production of hardwoods, and find income from materials
which came out from disengaging parts of ships which they plundered from the sea, making bricks for buildings and other facilities for constructions.
Again, every month the local military commanders always asked for porter and labour taxes from every village around the constructions. About 100 households of village had to pay them at least 20,000 Kyat every month for portering tax alone and it also accompanied with other kinds of taxation. Reasonably, the military told the villagers they had to hire for the extra porters for the military operations or labourers for constructions in stead of villagers. In some villages, according to villagers, they also had to pay for taxes although they were displaced outside of village as they worried the military will destroy their villages. Particularly, the military put those cashes into their pockets for their incomes while they had responsibilities to conscript labours in this area.
Looting of villagers" belongings is a normal corruption of the ordinary soldiers and their commanders. By offering such kind of favour in looting belongings of villagers, the commanders have maintained their soldiers not to flee from the military battalions. Every time the troops came into village which was under suspicion of rebel base, they looted all belongings in village. According to the villagers, any commander did not bar or punish their soldiers when they took such belongings. They sold those facilities in another big villages or towns with low price.
Why those military officials and their soldiers have committed corruptions among the poor local villagers? Like other government servants, the soldiers receive very low salary and could not provide enough for needs of their families. Because of low salary by the government, they have to find more incomes while they are launching military operations in rural areas. If they can collect more incomes, simply they could provide more for their families.
Focus of Current Report
This report focuses on the
population displacement of Mon community in Tavoy district of Tenasserim
Division of Burma. To collect true information how the local inhabitants have
been abandoned their native village and which kinds of abuses they have been
suffered, the HURFOM human rights workers traveled to the area between Khaw Zar
and Hpaung Taw villages in
To protect the persons who were conducted interviews, the report docs not use the real names of them and changed all their names. However, all events and stories were true which really happened in Burma and, please feel free to use this information and can change for the better usage of English. It is hoped that this report must be useful in helping international community to stop SLORC from committing such brutal abuses and promote internationally recognized human rights in Burma.
Name: Nai Thein Khae
Age/ Sex: 56 years/ Male
Nationality/ Religion: Mon/ Buddhist
Native Place: Thaung Khun village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division
Interview Date: 13 June, 1995.
Before the SLORC deployed the military regiments around this area, they villagers happily inhabited with their own culture and community structure. In this interview, Nai Thein Khae, one of village headmen, explained about SLORC troops destruction of community structure and its culture.
Destruction of local community by SLORC military forces
Q When did you leave your village and can you explain me the structure of your village before the Burmese troops arrived to this area?
In the past, our village has been a very enjoyable and all villagers arc lowland farmers. We also had a monastery and a primary school in the village. Even our village is a small village, all villagers are relatives and helped each other. By the encouragement of education committee of NMSP (The New Mon State Party, armed opposition group of Mon people], we could manage a small school for education promotion of our children. We have no problems with Mon troops even those soldiers came from several parts of Mon State. But last three years ago we have been unsafe because of the regular military operations of Burmese troops. Starting since that period, the Burmese soldiers always asked for perpetuate forced porters and tax payments. We provided them as we can. But it was not enough for them, every time they came to our village, they always looted the villagers' belongings as bandits. Again, when they started the railway construction we have been suffered all the times and perpetual forced porters accompanied with tortures, we became displaced persons like this. All villagers abandoned our Taung Khun village just recently.
Before I left my village in second week of May, there were only five families left in the village. Recently, at the beginning of dry season, there were nearly 50 households in our village and the most villagers inhabited as farmers while some have plantation like betel nut or coconut. We left our village, after could not tolerate for the inhumane and brutal tortures of the Burmese troops.
Q What kind of tortures have your villagers suffered when they stayed in village?
Briefly, at the beginning of dry season, we had to provide labourers in the railway construction without payment and later, the Burmese troops always arrested the villagers to subject as porters in their military operations. At the same time, we had to pay many kinds of taxes for the troops and the villagers getting poor and poor. At the end, they abandoned their village and displaced in several places outside village. Then only five families left in the village including my family. At the military burnt some houses in our village, we had to abandon our village again.
Forced labours in railway and in producing of construction facilities
Q Firstly, can you tell me the experiences about the labour conscription of Burmese troops for their constructions?
In the whole dry season, the Burmese troops continuously conscripted at least 7 labours for every month for the railway construction and other military buildings. I had to arrange the rotation of the villagers for equal labours of them. Recently those villagers were subjected as labours in constructing railway and then in building the military barracks or in cutting trees to make railway sleepers, lumbers and other facilities for railway and other development infrastructure, as they told. They ordered to me to provide them at least two tons of hardwoods every month and to saw it how many blocks of sleepers and planks according to dimension they needed. So the villagers had to go to the forest and set up hand-made saw mills in there until they complete their obligations. In this case, we have to find the saws by ourselves and the Burmese troops never provided. After the villagers had made the suitable facilities, they also had to bring it to the military barracks or to the construction sites. If the villagers could not provide the facilities as they needed, they sent a letter and warned me to follow like their orders.
Local Troops tax extortion from local villagers and related corruption
Because of hardships and lack of time in working their own jobs, half of villagers had fled from the village at the end of February. I could not prevent them. So in February, our village could not provide the possible number of labourers in portering and making hardwood facilities. After we could not provide as they needed, the troops came to our village and ordered to me and other villagers, to fulfill responsible labours as they needed. I told them that I could not prevent the villagers from leaving village and reducing labours which we have to provide. They replied me to organize my own villagers by myself and they did not want to know about the escaping of villagers and my problems. They also ordered me that for those villagers who were absent in providing labours had to pay 1000 Kyat each as ransom. Starting from February, we have to pay ransom for the villagers who escaped from village by forcing them to return to village.
Beside the labour conscription, the military always took at least two porters every time they came and portering tax from village every month. In December, I told them that our village was small and few population, so it was very hard for us for providing labours in both constructions and portering. The military told me they will consider on that and later they informed me to avoid from the portering, our village had to pay them some cashes to hire porters to replace. They asked us to pay them 100 Kyat each house instead of porters. The villagers helped each other and pay them as portering taxes. I don't think they will hire porters with our cashes and will put it in their pockets. Furthermore, for the military barracks of Burmese troops which were built in Natkyisin, the villagers had to provide about 50 bamboos from each house per month during January to March.
When the villagers were displaced, they were starved because of shortage of food for some time. In crop-harvesting season, the villagers did not have enough time to harvest their crops because of forced labours in the railway construction. The village headman briefed about that suffering.
No enough time for harvesting rice
Q Can you tell another created problems after the military conscripted your villagers as forced labours and what other sufferings after you could not provide the labours as they needed?
During the Burmese troops conscripted labours in the village, mostly the men were subjected as labours in railway construction or in other buildings, we had faced great difficulties in harvesting rice in December. Mostly the women had to manage to harvest the rice and it was unable for them to manage for everything. So the villagers lost some rice because the women could not enable to gather crops in harvest time as they had to care their children. Since then, we are keeping well our rice to be enough for the whole year to eat.
LIB 408's tortured elder persons and rice extortion
One day in March, as T told you, after we could not provide the troops needed sleepers and lumbers, they angered to us and came into the village. As soon as they arrived, they told me to gather all villagers in my houses. As I was afraid being tortured by them, I organized all the left villagers to come to my house. And, they beated all male villagers mostly some 60 years old elder men. They alleged us as we were lazy. And they accused us that we did not want to respect their orders because of the encouragement of Mon troops. It was a punishment as we could not provide them the labours and facilities they needed. Beside providing labours and facilities, the troops also asked 4 sacks of rice (8 Burmese baskets of rice, 35 kilogram for one basket), every month to LIB 408. Sometime, without demanding for rice, some Burmese troops looted rice in the village whenever they came into. There have been many regiments of troops active in this area and only LIB 408 officially asked the other troops looted for it. At the same time, as the villagers had no enough time to work their own jobs to get some small income, they had to sell their own rice.
Rice-shortage and its related tortures
As the villagers had to pay and offer their time too much in military demands, later they have faced food shortage problems. The villagers who stayed in the village and displaced outside village have been suffered like this since February. Starting from February, some villagers needed to borrow rice from another big village for their families. Since December, the Burmese troops already issued an order like if they met someone with rice more than for one meal, they will punish. Two of our villagers who returned back from Daneekyar village after they borrowed rice, the Burmese troops met them on their way with rice and severely beated them. Those cases were happened respectively in February and March. The names of the two men are Nai Gyor and Nai Ah Htae. After they were severely tortured, they had received for nearly two weeks treatment and spent a lot of cashes for treatment. In fact, the villagers had to make great caution in their movement later.
As the villagers were accused as the supporters of rebels, the SLORC troops have legal rights to shoot any villager and rape women in the village. And, they have always reported to their military officials that they committed such abuses only to rebels and supporters of rebel.
LW 408 's raped a two children mother
Q Were there some inhumane ill-treatment to villagers like shooting, rape and execution created by Burmese troops?
One day in second week of January, while the most men in village had to work in building of military barracks or in forest to saw sleepers and blanks, the women left in village and one woman was raped by Burmese soldier from LIB 408. The woman was the mother of two children. (But the village headman did not want to mention the name of that woman as the rape case quietly occurred in the village). On that night, the troops slept in our village and they separately stayed in the several houses. At that time, most of the men were not in the village and one soldier raped that women about mid-night. Because of the woman was afraid being killed by the soldier, she did not dare to cry out for help. But in the morning, she came to me and other village headmen and told the last night incident.
LIB 410's Shooting of 11 years old child
The shooting case was also happened in March by the LIB 410 troops. In the second week of March, about one company of Burmese troops came into our village and attempted to arrest some porters. We had already paid for the portering taxes to LIB 408 and the LIB 410 dissatisfied on us. So, they came into our village and arrested for some porters. Suddenly after the villagers knew the troops arrested for porters, the villagers tried to escape and the soldiers opened fire to those who flee in front of them. My grandson, 11 years old boy named Ong Par, was also afraid after he heard the sound of firing, he also fled with other villagers. The soldiers shot to him and he got severe injury in his thigh of right leg. I treated him nearly one month and spent a lot of cashes, but his right leg was absolutely paralyzed and could not walk well.
The last situation to abandon native village
Q What were the last situations of your village before you abandoned? And, please mention the difficulties in the situation of displacement.
Actually, I don't want to abandon my village and so, I firmly stayed in village until only five houses left in the village. However, at the end, I also could not tolerate for the ill-treatments of Burmese soldiers and decided to leave the village. As we have good surroundings in village, at least we did not have to worry to get vegetables and other raising domestic animals for foods. We could manage the better life than we are displaced like this.
After one small fighting between Moon troops and Burmese troops LIB 408 happened in second week of April, we have no opportunity to stay longer in our village. The fighting happened between our village and Daneekyar village. Two Burmese soldiers died in the fighting and retreated back to our village after fighting ceased. As soon as they arrived to the village, they informed to meet them immediately. So I met their commander and I knew they were from LIB 408. There were about 100 troops with them. When I met him, the commander told me why we did not inform them about the Mon troops staying around our village. I replied to him that I did not know about the Mon troops around our village and complained those Mon troops came from another areas. Because of my arguments, they angered to me and slapped me three times. At the time before the fighting occurred, I did not get any information about the activities of Mon troops or Burmese troops. Again, they also asked me to show the base of Mon troops. I told him I did not know the base and he accused that I was the supporter of Mon troops and slapped me again. Because of my consistent denial on the location of Mon troops, at the end, he ordered his men to burn down my house. They did not allow my wife to pick the belongings on the house. There were three houses burnt down as the other two were close to my house. Then the soldiers climbed on every house left in the village and confiscated all villagers" belongings. Our village became as rebel base by the accusation of the Burmese troops and how we can stay! Therefore, we had to leave our village.
Name: Nai Tware
Age/ Sex: 39 years/ Male
Nationality/ Religion: Mon/ Buddhist
Native Place: Daneekyar village (Hoit Kyar village in Mon), Yebyu Township
Interview Date: 15 June, 1995
Similarly to other villages, Daneekyar village also suffered by abuses of SLORC troops and related conscription of forced labours in dry season. Nai Tware explained his experiences why the villagers were displaced.
Community structure of Mon local inhabitants
Q At presence, what is the whole condition of your village? Please tell me the living condition of your villagers, the structure of village and recent suffering of them.
Mostly, our villagers are lowland farmers of cultivating rice. The farmlands are situated around our village. Some villagers have betel nut plantation in east of our village. Normally, the production of rice in our farmlands can provide enough amount for the survival of village's populations. However, we have to share that rice production to the Burmese military every year as they forcefully took it. Because of such confiscating rice from us, the villagers have not had enough rice and had to borrow or buy some rice before the harvesting season every year.
In our village, we have a small primary school for the education of children. But the school could not manage for the whole educational term because the children also escaped from the village with their parents. Even the school was established, it is very hard to get a teacher for the whole school year, because of the unstable situation of the village. Sometime, the Burmese troops also arrested our school teachers by alleging them as the supporters of the Mon rebels. Traditionally, the teacher taught the children in Mon language and the Burmese troops anyhow dissatisfied on that school courses. For the treatments of the patients who became sick, we have no medic and clinic for treatments in our village. The traditional herbal medicines could not cure some diseases. Therefore we had to bring those serious patients to Khaw Zar village (Khao Zae village in Mon) where can get possible treatments of medic. For the poor villagers, they had no enough cashes and they could not receive for treatments and died.
Slave labours in Ye-Tavoy railway construction
Q Did the Burmese troops conscripted your villagers as slaved labours in the railway construction?
Yes. Since November 1994, we had to provide at least 25 men for the railway construction worksites every month under the command of LIB 408. When the villagers were subjected as labours in the construction sites in the last dry season, they had to bring their own foods and no any payment from the Burmese troops. By managing with rotation basis of villagers, one villager had to be as labourer about 2 weeks and changed with another villager by village headmen. Our village had to provide to working sites until February, when they nearly completed the construction part of railway from Yebyu to Tavoy. In the labour constricts centers, they did not receive any treatment by the military medics when they became sick. They had to work for the exact time of the whole day under the rain or sun. For sick villagers, they gathered some cashes and bought medicines and treated each other.
Corruptions by local Military officials
Beside the conscription of labours in the railway, the military also asked for hardwood railway sleepers to use in construction. At the same time, while some villagers were working in the railway construction, some went to forest to cut trees for hardwoods. We had to give only that hardwoods and I think they did not use all that hardwoods in railway construction and sold it for extra incomes. Sometime, the military told us to make lumbers from that hardwoods and they would use it in building schools and military barracks. But I have never seen any lumbers used in the school around our areas. Because of such perpetually labour conscription by the military, the villagers have no enough time to work their own jobs. Then, they became displaced persons after abandoned their own village and homes.
Accusation of rebel supporters on villagers have been a normal case in local area and the villagers were severely tortured by this reason. As one of village headman, Nai Tware explained about that.
LIU 409 tortured village headmen with accusation of rebel-supporters
Q Please describe me about your experience and other kinds of abuses violated by Burmese troops.
In first week of January, I was arrested by the Burmese troops of LIB 409 led by Lt. Nan Aung. They arrested me and other four village leaders. They tied all of us and brought to Maethanthaung village. The military did not tell us for what reason they arrested us and they beated us with sticks, combat boots and rifle butts several times. While they beated they asked us to show the arms hiding places of the Mon troops. We told them that we did not know about the places and but they continuously beated us for our denials. Actually, they accused us who kept the arms of Mon troops. We were severely tortured to admit as we were supporters of Mon rebel and hid rebel's arms. After they could not receive any fact from us, they covered our heads with plastic sheets and pour water on it. This was the worst kind of tortures among they used. They used this method of torture to whom they accused as rebels or rebel-supporters.
After they could not get any evidence for keeping arms from us, they brought us to our village again. When we arrived to the village, as the villagers afraid for the being tortured of Burmese soldiers and mostly, the men fled outside village. Because of those escaped men, they also accused and told us that we allowed the Mon soldiers to stay in our village and when they arrived those Mon soldiers had fled. They told us to show the houses of Mon soldiers. When we replied most of Mon soldiers" families stayed in Tavoy district headquarters area of NMSP, they dissatisfied on us and beated us again and again. And, the commander told us to organize our villagers to return back to the village as soon as possible to check them who were the Mon soldiers. After we replied we could not easily manage for returning of those villagers, they tortured us again and again.
LIB 408's Torture against woman with accusation of [being a] rebel-supporter
About half hour later they arrested a woman and accused her as a wife of Mon soldier. They brought her to us and to prove she was a wife of Mon soldiers. As we knew well she was not wife of Mon soldier, we refused their accusation. They also slapped her in front of us, to admit she was a wife of Mon soldier. They interrogated her nearly for one hour and sometime slapped her during their interrogation. She cried and no one dare to help her. She consistently refused she was a wife of Mon soldier. They dissatisfied on her answers and slapped her terribly. Because of the guarantee of village leaders and after they did not get any answer they needed, they released her. They also released all of us. They also warned if they heard some Mon soldiers came and stayed in our village, they will burn down our village. When they left from our village, they also looted a lot amount of rice from our village by using elder villagers to carry it to their military outpost in Maethanthaung village.
LIB 408's torture against villager and became as a mad man
After one week later, when LIB No. 408 troops returned back from southern parts areas, they went into our village again and arrested Nai Ha Toi (47 years). They accused him as Mon soldier. I was not at village at that time. They severely tortured him by beating him with rifle butts and kicked him with combat boots. They covered his head with plastic bags and poured water on it. They asked him to show his arm which was hidden in the village. As he was a ordinary villager, he consistently refused. The more his refusals, the more they inhumanely tortured him. At the end, he became as a mad man in village because of severely ill-treatment.
LIB 408's looting of villagers' belongings
I could not recognize all the dates when the Burmese troops came into village. It could say they came into village very often at least four times in one month. Mostly the troops from LIB 408 regularly came and sometimes, troops from other battalions also came. Because of the severely ill-treatment like that, the most villagers had to flee from the village, when the troops came. It have been common. Previously, only two village headmen, I and Nai Hla Kyin, left in the village when LIB 408 troops came. No one dare to meet them and fled away. So far we were always conscripted as porters in every time after we could not manage for possible villager porters. Every time they came, they also looted all belongings in the village in front of us. While the commander talking with us, all his men climbed up every house and took every thing. They always told that our village became as rebel base and they had legal rights to take the belongings of the villagers.
LIB 408’s use of female porters
In the first week of March, one company of Burmese troops led by Captain San Wai from LIB No. 408 came into our village and asked for 15 porters to carry foods, ammunitions and other confiscated belongings of villagers. At that time, there were no more men in the village except we, two village headmen. I tried to explain them about the real situation in the village why the villagers had to flee from village. They never accepted any my complaints and jut told me to quickly gather for demanding porters and if not, they must use women as porters, they said. I had no choice and I could not manage their demands. Then they arrested about 15 women in the village for porters. As I worried they could made some trouble, I asked the commander to allow me accompanying with those female porters. But they refused and subjected the women to carry heavy burdens which were infeasible to women's strength. Therefore, the troops and the women porters traveled to Kyauktayan. After those women arrived to Kyauktayan village, the troops released them and they quickly returned back to village without any trouble made by soldiers. But the most women got severe scars in their shoulders and backs. When they arrived back, they were too afraid for portering in future and most of them escaped to jungle and joined with their husbands as becoming displaced persons.
LIB 410’s broken promise and brutal treatment to porters
On the eve of new year festival (Before April 14), a company of Burmese troops from LIB No. 410 led by Col. Tin Shwe came into our village. When they arrived to the village, they arranged an meeting with village headmen. At the time, we had all four village headmen in the village. The village headmen who left in the village were mostly elder persons except me. In the meeting, they explained us they would not conscript any porter from our village like LIB 408 has done and told the village headmen to organize the villagers to return back to their own village. As we believed the commander words and agreed with them to organize the villagers to return back. So far the villager who were displaced in the jungle and along the coastal areas, returned back to the village. Again, after one week, the troops of LIB No. 410 came into our village and changed their words in conscripting porters. They told us that they had troubles and impossible to carry loads with the number of their troops and asked for the helps of the villagers. They told me they just take the villagers to Chaung Phar village and after they arrived there, they will released all of them. Anyhow, as we were afraid for the being ill-treatment, we offered them 15 villagers as porters. But the commander broke his promise. When the porters arrived to Chaung Phar village, the soldiers did not release them. They continuously used those villagers as porters until they arrived to their military base in Paukpingwin village. On the way for the whole two days, the villagers had no any opportunity to take a rest and sometimes they were beaten by the soldiers when they could not walk as quickly as soldiers did. After severe treatments of LIB No. 410 troops, the villagers had to flee into the forests and coastal areas again. Later, we did not believe any word of them.
LIB 406's ill-treatment against elder persons
One month later, in second week of May, the Burmese troops LIB No. 406 came into our village again and asked the rest elder villagers for 10 porters. There were no more young men in the village and it was difficult for those village headmen to arrange for demanding porters. After the elder villagers told them the impossible arrangement to get the porters, the soldiers angered to them and, at the end, the soldiers tied all men in the village and tortured them. The soldiers tortured them for the whole night. At that time, I was in my betel-nut plantation. In the morning, one of my daughters came to me and informed about the ill-treatment of Burmese troops. Then, I quickly returned back to the village. After I arrived to village, they forced me to organize 15 porters quickly and, if not, they will continuously keep torturing those elder villagers. Immediately, by the helps of women in the village, arranged to get 15 porters. I told to those women to find their husbands or sons to return back to the village quickly to help in stopping ill-treatments against elder villagers. In the evening, we could organize 15 porters and they released elder persons. For the villagers who arrived back from hiding places, they were also beaten or kicked by the soldiers. They angered to me and beated for the reason why I allowed the villagers to hide outside village. The troops also asked us for 4 baskets of rice (one Burmese basket rice equal to 35 Kilograms weight). Totally 15 villagers including me became porters and had to carry the ammunition, foods and rice to Kyauktayan and continuously to Mae Taw (Ah Mae in Mon) village.
At the end, the villagers including women and children had to abandon their village and displaced in difficult situations, after the SLORC troops terribly maltreated them.
The dislocation of local villagers in last situation
Q In which situation, all your villagers including women and children abandoned the village?
After one fighting occurred closely to our village in second week of April, the Burmese troops LIB 408 accused all villagers as supporters of Mon rebels and as a result, they burnt down our village. In the fighting, the Burmese troops lost two arms and retreated back to our village. Unluckily, on the way they retreated back, they also found some amount of rice stored in the jungle and they angered to us, was another reason to burnt down the village. As soon as they arrived to our village, they called and asked me why we did not inform about the Mon troops around the area and kept the rice for whom. They tortured every villagers who they met in the village. They also asked us for the compensation of their losing arms in the fighting or to buy two arms to replace for the loss. After we complained them we had no enough cashes or belongings for demanding compensation, the soldiers angered to us and climbed up every houses and took belongings of the villagers. After they were satisfy getting well priced belongings, they burnt down the whole village and then they shouted us to stay with Mon rebels, if they met us in the village, they said they will kill. No one dare to stay in the village and abandoned the village.
Name: Nai Chohn
Age/ Sex: 64 years/ Male
Nationality/Religion: Mon/ Buddhism
Native Place: Mae Taw (Ah Mae in Mon) village,
Mae Taw village is close to the gas pipeline construction area and the most villagers were considerably accused as the supporter of Mon troops and the village is perceived posing threat to the gas pipeline construction and at a result, the SLORC troops tried to destroy this village.
Q Please describe me the background of your village.
Normally, we villagers are mostly farmers and very few of them are fishermen. We have farmlands around our village and the sea is about 2 hours walk distance far from our village. In our village, mostly all of us are like relatives and stay peacefully and supportively each other. We also have a monastery and a school for the education of the children. Previously, before the Burmese troops started the construction of Ye-Tavoy railway, the living condition was better and after that, we have been faced many kinds of difficulties for survival. We could not get enough time to work in our farmlands because of the conscription of labours and could not stay in the village as well as allegation of Burmese troops to us as we are the Mon rebels.
LIB 409 's sergeant Han Myaing killed village secretary by accusation of rebel-supporter
Q What kinds of ill-treatment of Burmese troops have violated to your villagers and when?
At the beginning of this year, estimatedly in second week of February, about 60 Burmese troops from LIB No. 409 led by Sergeant Han Myaing arrived to our village and arrested village secretary Nai Tun Maung (36 years), then they killed him. The arrested and killed him because they accused him as a supporter of Mon troops. Normally, when the Mon troops arrived to the village, every villagers ever met with them. As soon as they arrived to the village they tried to arrest all male villagers and the men fled from the village. For Nai Tun Maung, he did not think the Burmese troops accused him as rebel supporter and stayed in the village at that time. After the troops could not arrest men in the village, they arrested 11 women for porters. Some women were only 14 years old and they still used them to carry their loads. And the women had to carry heavy burdens including foods and ammunitions to Chabone village which was 2 hours walk from our village. The troops also brought Nai Tun Maung with them. When the troops arrived to Chabone village, they released all women back to village and but still tied Nai Tun Maung with ropes. Then, they beated and asked him to admit he was a supporter of Mon troops. They severely beated him and interrogated where he hid the arms of Mon troops, how much taxes he gave to Mon troops and etc.. Because of his refusals, they angered to him and brought him to Kyacthonenyima military outpost on the next day morning. No one could help him. When the troops arrived to their outpost, they interrogated him again and severely tortured. They dissatisfied on him too much and in the evening they brought him under one bridge outside village and killed him by shooting with guns.
LIB 408 and 410 conscripted slave labours and taxes related to construction and porters
After Nai Tun Maung was killed, every villager [was] frightened [of] the Burmese soldiers and while the troops came into village, they consistently escaped from the village. But mostly the elder men and the village headmen left in the village, and they were always severely treated by the Burmese troops. Even the villagers were staying outside village, they had to pay many kinds of taxation to the Burmese troops such as payment for the military barracks, under construction Ye-Tavoy railway, portering and payment for the security reason of gas-pipeline and etc.. The village headmen paid for such taxes every month. In November and December of last year, we had to work in the railway construction and later many villagers refused and escaped from the labour conscription. The troops also threatened villagers, if they did not agree to serve taxation, they village much be burnt into ashes. But the taxations of Burmese troops were higher and higher all the times and later the villagers have nothing left to pay. And the troops came into village and confiscated all belongings of the villagers. In March and April, the troops also ordered the villagers to move to Kyawthonenyima village where the troops taking base. The troops who asked for the taxes and confiscated the belongings were mostly came from the LIB No. 408 and LIB No. 410. After the villagers refused to move, the troops from LIB No. 410 came into village in second week of April and burnt down some houses and one rice mill. After that we were displaced in this place (The place is in the forest far three kilometres from village). Actually, the troops always tried to destroy our village. I think they always accused our village as rebel base and vulnerable to destroy their proposed the gas pipeline construction.
The interviewee explained the going on situations of human rights abuses after the SLORC troops alleged the Mae Taw village as posing threat to the planned gas pipeline construction.
New security establishment for planned gas pipeline construction
Tax and rice extortion related to gas pipeline construction
Q How do you think your village was related to gas pipeline construction security and then Burmese troops destroyed it and what other violations were committed by the troops connecting with pipeline?
In comparison, the Burmese troops oftenly came into village more times than Mon troops came. But consistently, the villagers afraid them and always fled and so far they accused all male villagers were supporters of Mon troops. As normal, when Mon troops came into our village about three times in each month, they did not ill-treat us and we could stay in the village recently before they killed village secretary. I think in February, the military put most of pipeline construction facilities were put on other sea-bank opposite of our village. The Burmese military really worried that the Mon troops will destroy construction facilities and had to relocate our village to cut off contact with Mon troops. The place where they put construction facilities named 'Kin Taung' and they never allowed any villager to that side. In every village around that area, the military put bases respectively for the security of their pipeline. Since February, when the troops asked increased taxes they told to the villagers that they had to hire about 10 labourers in stead of our villagers to build the military barrack and other buildings in Heinze Boke island. This military base must use for the security of pipeline construction mainly for offshore part of pipeline and the aircraft landing ground must use for military helicopter to land down. According to the Burmese troops, they did not want us to work in Heinze Boke island construction site as they never trusted us. Thus, they just always took cashes from us every month. Recently, we had to pay about 20000 Kyat monthly taxation and in February, the military asked 40000 Kyat including labour hiring charges in Heinze Boke island. They said our village had to provide 10 labourers for every month and instead of those labours, they increased taxation. According to the Tavoyan villagers, who were conscripted to work in construction site told that they have never received any payment for their labour in Heinze Boke island constructions. Beside such kind of taxation, the village had to provide 20 baskets of milled rice to them every month, as they told, to feed labourers in construction site. To serve such taxations, the villagers had to sell their own living stocks like oxes, cows, farmlands and etc..
Q When did the villagers flee from village and how suffered they were? Where did they displace and how their temporary site look like?
We can say, the villagers were escaped from their village when the times the military came into village. As I mentioned above, before and after our village secretary was killed by the Burmese troops, any man did not dare enough to stay in village as the military alleged us as rebels or rebel-supporter. After that, military used women as porters and some women also joined with their husbands and displaced in east of our village at the mountainous area. Even we were displaced, every month we had to pay taxes. Sometimes, we returned to village for a short time and took some belongings and came back here (interviewee was displaced) immediately.
The terrible situation in displacement
We have stayed for nearly four months with temporary shelters. We are staying here for 4-5 families together as a group in one place where we think the Burmese troops could not reach. Recently, when the Burmese troops came into village not so oftenly, we could get some rice from our village. Later in March, after the troops oftenly came into village and took rice from the village as taxation or forcefully confiscation, the villagers could not get enough rice for their families. And they tried to get rice from another village. But it was so unsafe for them to travel and enter to other villages because the Burmese troops always launched military operations around the area and taking bases in big village where could get possible needed rice. Hence, the villagers had to eat rice soup and sometimes we have no rice to eat. At that time, we had to eat fish, crabs and prawns without rice.
Children died because of food shortage
Because of shortage of food and clean water, women and children were suffered from many kinds of diseases such as malnutrition, skin diseases, diarrhea and etc.. One 9 years girl named Mi Nue was died because of malnutrition and diarrhea. Also two children were died after born because of malnutrition and sickness of mothers. There were no medic around this area and we had to transfer serious patients to Kyaethonenyima village for treatment. But it was not so easy to bring as the Burmese troops can arrest us on the way and even the counterfeit medic in there not so dare in treating us as they were threatened by Burmese soldiers not to treat our villagers as we have been always accused as Mon soldiers.
The last situation of villagers to become displaced persons
But we could return back to village for two weeks before the new year festival (The Burmese new year festival is April 14 every year). During that two weeks, no Burmese solider came to our village and we could stay safely. After new year festival, they came into village again and all men escaped from the village again. They ordered the rest villagers, elder persons and women, to relocate to Kyaethonenyima village immediately. The troops were from LIB No. 410 which also taking base in Kyaethonenyima. Because of the refusals of the village to relocate, the troops burnt some houses and one rice mill. Up to now, we were displaced and no one dare to return to the village again. I do not know for sure that can we return to village in coming raining season for cultivation. About 20 families fled border refugee camps where can get enough assistance for their survival. (The Human Rights Interviews with refugees who fled from Mae Taw village already reported in HURFOM Human Rights Publication 2/95 in May) We, the villagers who left here don't want to abandon our farmlands and hope we can return back to village in coming rainy season.
Name: Nai Htawe
Age/ Sex: 52 years/ Male
Nationality/ Religion: Mon/ Buddhism
Native Place: Chaung Phar (Knot Krone in Mon) village,
Chaung Phar village structure
Q Please describe the life of your villagers and the structures of your village before you escaped from there?
Recently, in the stable situation, there were nearly 100 households in our village and the most the villagers were lowland rice-cultivating farmers while very few of the rest villagers were betel-nut or coconut plantation farmers. We had one monastery as we were Buddhism. We also had a small primary Mon National School for promotion of education of our children. We had no medic or clinic in the village. We have been taken treatments for serious patients in Khaw Zar (Khao Jae in Mon) village which situated nearly one day walk. Sometimes when the Mon troops came into village, the troops medic ever treated the patients in the village.
Q What kinds of labour conscription on villagers at the beginning of this year?
Firstly, the Burmese military conscripted our villagers as labours to work in the railway construction site. It was started in November and December of last year. At that time, our village had to provide about 20 labours every week under the command of LIB No. 408. Beside the conscripting labours, we (the villagers) also had to pay taxation, as they told, to buy railway sleepers. And, sometimes the villagers were also conscripted in disengaging the parts of fishing ships in the sea coast. I think those fishing ships were plundered by the Burmese troops in sea and they sold all the parts of ships such as engines, radar, radio, fishing nets, lumbers and etc., after its were disengaged. Some traveling ships which have forth and back traveled to Pinam island of Malaysia importing and exporting illegally, also confiscated by the military and brought it to the sea coast. They did not report to the upper authorities for the confiscating ships and they sold all parts of ship to merchants in Ye, Tavoy and other big villages. The merchants sold it to ship builder again to get more profit. The Burmese soldiers did like this business under the command of respective commanders of battalions.
Forced labours, tax extortion, and corruption of local military officials
Furthermore, the military took many kinds of taxation. Even the villagers had worked in construction in November and December, at the same time, they asked for cashes to buy the facilities for construction such as railway sleepers. Thus, every house in the village had to pay 2000 Kyat every month for railway facilities. The adopted worksite for our villagers was offered near the Paukpingwin village. After December, even the military stopped the construction because of most villagers around the railway escaped from village and the most village headmen refused or impossible to arrange to provide labours as the military demanded. The villagers had to flee from villages while some fled to border refugee camps, because they had no enough times to work their own jobs for survivals and but also the military always asked for payment of construction facilities. Later, after the villagers could not provide the demanding cashes by the military, the belongings and living stocks of villagers, such as clothes, domestic animals, and etc., were looted by soldiers. After the villagers could not provide labours or cashes, they asked the village to give them 3 tons of hardwoods for every month. They said this hardwoods must use for railway sleepers and to build military barracks. In February, the villagers tried to saw hardwoods and gave them. According to informations from the military outpost we got, all hardwoods were sold by soldiers and they just collected cashes as they can, while they were taking responsibilities around the railway construction areas.
LIB 408 's punishment to villagers
In March, there were no male villagers in village. Beside providing labours and cashes, the villagers had no time to saw hardwoods in the forest and the commander from LIB No. 408 angered to villagers. They sent a letter to village headmen to quickly meet them. As the village headmen frightened the possible punishment of the military, not dare to meet the commander. So, the village headmen could not arrive and meet the commander on the day the military told as deadline. One day in the third week of March, a company of troops from LIB No. 408 came into the village and tried to arrest all men in the village. As the villagers were afraid for the being tortured by soldiers, most of them fled outside village and only elder persons and village headmen left in village. Therefore, the soldiers arrested 12 elder persons and village headmen and brought them to military outpost in Paukpingwin village immediately. When troops arrived Paukpingwin, they severely tortured those villagers for refusing to meet them and they accused the village headmen that the villagers were encouraged by Mon troops not to meet them. Then, they wrote a letter and sent it to our village. In the letter, the commander asked 15000 Kyat to pay them immediately and if not, they will kill all villagers. They detained those villagers and tortured them every days. The rest villagers immediately collected cashes and gave them within three days. After five days detention and 15000 Kyat ransom, at the end, the soldiers released them.
Permanent porters used by LIB 410
After that, the villagers had nothing to pay them more and even the village headmen escaped from arresting by troops when the military came into village. Every times the Burmese troops came into village, the villagers including women fled from the village. Normally, when the troops could not meet any villager, they climbed up every houses and looted all belongings together with them. Before new festival, one day in the first week of April, the troops from LIB No. 410 came into village and arrested four villagers Nai Zain, Nai Htapoe Dot, Nai Kyaw Win and Nai Kyi Win. The troops used those villagers as porters to carry heavy loads such as ammunitions and other supplies. The military launched an operation along the railway and at the end our villagers were conscripted by them to their Ah Bue village military outpost. Until now, they did not release those villagers yet. We don't know for sure that are they still alive or died. As informations we got from Ah Bue village last month, they were still alive and they became slave labours in the military outpost and sometimes, they were subjected to work in construction site of military barracks in Heinze Boke island as permanent porters.
In interview, he also has knowledges about the dead porters in the military operations in recent months and described about that in detail.
LIB 406 executed porter
Q Did you ever see some villagers die because of the ill-treatment of Burmese soldiers?
Recently in December of 1994, when the troops from LIB No. 406 came from Macthantaung village, they also entered to our village. When they arrived to village, they asked for two porters and we agreed to provide them. And they also told to village headmen that to bring a man who was sick outside village on the way they came. After the troops left from the village, some villagers including me went outside village to find for sick man. When we arrived to the place, the man about 35 years old already died with a lot of beating scars in his body. Actually, he was tortured by the soldiers and then died. But he was look like as a sick man. As he was sick and he could not walk well the soldiers beated until died. The scars in his body showed evidence that he was severely beaten by rifle butts, sticks and combat boots of soldiers. We brought him into village. Some villager knew him and he was a Kyaethalin villagers. Therefore we informed his family and on the next day morning, his family arrived to our village and we knew that he was getting sick when he was arrested.
LIB 408 executed porter
In February second week, there was a porter from Natkyisin also died after he was severely tortured by soldiers. On that day, the 50 troops from LIB No. 408 came into village and told to the women that one man died outside village and to pick and bury him. As they told, that porter was died because of sickness. At that time, all men in village already escaped from being arrested by Burmese troops. Even women villagers got information, no one dare to go and pick the dead porter. In evening, when an old man came back in collecting forest products he saw that dead man aged about 28 years old and informed abbot to pick him back to village. Then the villagers picked him back to village and the whole his body was full with beating scars. We know he was died because of torturing, not like the soldiers claimed he was died because of sickness.
LIB 410 executed porter
The last porter who died because of torturing was a Kyauktayan villagers. In the first week of April, when LIB NO. 410 arrested four villagers (as mentioned above), one porter also died in our village. In this time, there were about 30 porters with their troops. The dead porter was look like sick and he could not carry loads and the military beated him, according to other porters told to women villagers. He was sick before the troops arrested him in his village, Kyauktayan. He also told them about his sickness, but the troops did not make attention on his words and subjected him as porter. On the way, he could not walk quickly like troops and the soldiers behind severely beated him. Then, other soldiers joined and beated him, and at the end, before they arrived to our village, he was died because of severely torturing. But when the troops arrived to village and told villagers he was died of some disease and not to toll he died because of torturing. (The name of the Kyauktayan villager porter is Ah Baing and the whole history already reported in HURFOM Human Rights Report 5/95)
He explained the last situation of his village and why all villagers, including women and children had to abandon their own native village.
LIB 4l0 shot village headmen
Q Can you describe me the last situation of your family and why you and other families were displaced?
One day in the last week of April, one company of Burmese troops of LIB 410 came into our village again and made a disturbance to the village. When they arrived to the village, all male villagers fled from village and only two village headmen Nai Nyan Tin and Nai Thaung Sein left in the village. In our village, we have four village headmen. When the troops arrived he asked for another two headmen.
Nai Nyan Tin replied to them that the other two village headmen will return back in the evening. But in the evening, those village headmen did not return back and they angered to village headmen. They tied them up and beated them severely. Again, on the next day morning, the other village headmen still did not arrive yet and they prepared to burn down the houses of those village headmen. When Nai Nyan Tin prevented them to not burn, they angered to him and but they burnt down those two houses. They did not allow anybody to pick and collect belongings in the houses. After the burnt down two houses, they ordered Nai Nyan Tin and Nai Thaung Sein to run in front of them along the road in the village. The two men ran and they shot behind them. Nai Nyan Tin got severe injuries in his tight.[thigh?]
Soldier attempted to rape woman
In night the troops slept in village, one soldier also attempted to rape two children from village, she left with her small sons and old father in her house. About at night, one soldier who slept in outside room, entered her room and tried to rape her. When the soldier touched her, she cried out for help to her father. Even the soldier slapped her face and closed her mouth, she could make shouting. As soon as her father hoard her voice, her father lit up light and the soldier fled away. The man knew that soldier well and informed the rape case to commander in morning on the next day. But the commander ignored about that and did not punish his man.
Because of severely tortures and created unsafe situations for both men and women in village having to take refuge here with many difficulties. Actually, no one would like to abandon their village and good surroundings of their homes.