* 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 3/96  (June 30, 1996)

 

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

 

 

States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its form, agree to pursue by all

appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women

and, to this end, under take:

... (d) to refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to

ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation:

(Article 2, d., The Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women)

 

 

Sex Discrimination Against Refugee Women by SLORC troops

 

Brief Information of Mon Refugees along the Thai-Burma Border

 

On the eve of the situations when the Mon refugees to be repatriated to Burmese territory of the border from Thai soil, the situation inside Burma where the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and SLORC had agreed for ceasefire zones has been still unsafe for the returnees. But, for the Mon refugees they have no more choice except moving down to unsafe Burmese territory.

 

Soon after the NMSP reached for ceasefire agreement on June 29, 1995, a local organization which has been taking care of welfares of Mon refugees, Mon National Relief Committee (MNRC) requested Bangkok base UNHCR for protection and monitoring in Mon refugee repatriation program. Then, the UNHCR has attempted to provide to Mon refugees for monitoring and integration of community reconstruction. But the UNHCR must need the recognition and agreement of concerned governments, for any monitoring of refugee repatriation, according UN procedures and principles.

 

After MNRC's request, the UNHCR representatives and legal officers often came and collected information from Mon refugees to accept the real desires of Mon refugees, for implementing voluntary repatriation. At the same time, in November 1995, the local Thai authorities including Royal Thai Army's Ninth Division, which bases in Kanchanaburi Province and has responsibility border security where Mon refugees were residing, pressured to NMSP leaders and MNRC officials to repatriate the Mon refugees as soon as possible. They also instructed deadline for Mon refugees to move back to Burmese territory before April 30, 1996. The transportation of supplies also must be completed before that deadline.

 

The UNHCR's concerned officials had flied several times around Geneva-Bangkok and Rangoon to discuss with governments, country of origin Burma and country of asylum Thailand, to get the recognition for monitoring. However, even the UNHCR has attempted to get mandate for monitoring to be presence in both territories, as a result, the UNHCR could not provide monitoring to Mon refugees when they were started repatriation in March. The SLORC, the military regime of Burma, disagreed with UNHCR presence in Mon refugee repatriation for the moment and just replied that Myanmar government will allow the UNHCR presence for monitoring after all ethnic armed opposition groups along the Thai-Burma border reached ceasefire agreement with government. It was meant that SLORC did not allow the UNHCR yet in the repatriation of Mon refugees. At the same time, the Mon refugees frightened the deadline of April 30 and forced repatriation of Thai Army as the ever had experiences.

 

Since the SLORC implemented government projects such as railway construction, and gas pipeline in lower Burma of Mon State and Tenasserim Division, Rangoon has been pressuring to local community to achieve ceasefire talks with ethnic armed opposition groups, to ensure the security of projects. For a result, there have been many new arrivals taken refuge in the border areas. About 25% of population of Mon refugees in estimation are the arrivals in duration since 1993 October when the time SLORC started railway project. Therefore, those refugees and overall were reluctant to move down to the Burmese territories where human rights situations are still worsening.

 

 

Population Movement in Dry Season

 

Last year in 1995, the SLORC had been forcing the local inhabitants to work in the railway construction and constructed the needed buildings in the proposed gas pipeline area for the whole year. The conscription of forced labour had been continued up to the beginning of 1996 and that created the population movement in territories close to the borderline.

 

Under the unsafe and lack of security in local area or free fire zone, to avoid the conscription of forced labour, many local villagers moved to border area as internally displaced persons or refugees. At the same time, in dry season of the duration from November to May, while the walking tracks were smooth to travel around, some refugees also visited to their native villages or relatives' villages secretly for a while.

 

The Payaw, the last Mon refugee camp which left in Thai territory, was the most convenient one for new arrivals to reach. Then, the majority of the camp population are mostly new arrivals from Yebyu township who escaped from forced labour. Beside the new arrivals who have come to the camp, some Payaw Camp's residents also visited to some Mon or Karen or Tavoyan villages in Ye or Yebyu Township to get necessaries and living stocks there. For example, to raise pig or chicken, the refugees have to go to some village where they could achieve such animals. Additionally, some refugees also returned and collected rice and other vegetables seeds to grow in the camp and hilly area nearby or they also travelled for religion or ethnic tradition purposes.

 

 

Incident of Sex Discrimination

 

With purposes to meet their relatives and to bring back some pigs for Christmas Day festival to be celebrated in the camp, a Karen family comprises an old woman and her two grand-children of a young girl and a man, from Payaw refugee camp, returned back to their native village in Yebyu township secretly. They started their trip at the end of November 1995. They arrived to their village within two days. After they met with their relatives and bought two pigs, then they returned back to the camp on December 3, 1995.

 

On the way to the refugee camp on December 3, the refugee family unexpectedly met with a small company of Burmese troops of SLORC Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 407 which was launching a military operation for the security of that area. The place was on the bank of Kin Chaung (river) near an area called "Ai Shay" which was far about 15 kilometers from Payaw refugee camp and 5 kilometers far from Ya Bu village (see Location Map of Incident). Then, the Burmese soldiers arrested all of three refugees and tied the man up with ropes. Then senior officer of military operation "Captain Thein Soe" ordered his military men and forcibly brought the 17 years old unmarried girl to him. Then the Captain raped her about 9:00 p.m. in night time.

About 4:00 a.m. in the morning of December 4, an unknown Warrant Officer brought 54 years old "Daw Ma Shin", the grand-mother of young girl, with him and raped again.

 

Then, the soldiers let them return back to Payaw refugee camp, after confiscating about 35 kilogram weight one pig. On the next day, the military operation moved back to Kalein Aung Battalion camp. Then Infantry Battalion (IB) had been active as troop substitution in the latter military operation in that area.

 

 

Focus of This Report

 

This report also would like to focus on the safety of refugees who were already relocated to Burmese territory, and the plight of women in local areas or even in refugee relocation site. Since the UNHCR could not provide possible monitoring for the repatriation, the refugees were relocated to Burmese territory with program "community itself organized relocation", after they had no choice because of the deadline adopted by Thai authorities. The area where they are residing at the moment is very unsafe for them. The relocation site is close to the area where SLORC troops have launched regular military operation. It is not their native places where they originally escaped from and so, that was not meant they were repatriated according to the international principles. Additionally, the sex discrimination against the local inhabitants and refugee women which regularly happened make them fear to freely move around in the area.

 

To get accurate and correct information, human rights workers of HURFOM conducted interviews with those two victims and put the real names of them. To protect safety of them, if you make publicity about this case, please change their names. However, all events and stories were true which really happened in Burma and, please feel free and can change the better usage of English. It is hoped that all information must be useful in helping the international community to halt SLORC from violating such abuses and promote internationally recognized human rights in Burma.

 

 

Interviews

 

 

Interview #1

 

Name: Daw Ma Shin

Age/ Sex: 54 years/ Female

Nationality/ Religion: Karen/ Christian

Occupation: refugees

Native Place: Law Thaing Village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division

Interview Date: January 10, 1996.

 

 

Traditionally, the ethnic communities in Burma who believe in Christianity, celebrated the every year Christmas Day on December 25. On the eve of Christmas Day, the Christians have to prepare to be ready for celebration.

 

 

Q Why did you return back to your native village? For what purpose? When you left there?

I returned back to Law Thaing village to buy pigs there for celebration of Christmas Day. We could not get pig here (in Payaw refugee camp) and may be expensive in Sangkhlaburi (Thai border town). So I decided to return back to Low Thaing village. I have relatives there and may be I can get good and low price and I went there. We left there on November 28. I left there with two of my grandchildren a girl "Naw Maw Nee" and a man "Mem Kow Htaing".

 

Population movement in border areas

 

How many days you did spend in your native village and when did you return back again?

I spent in the village just for two days. We had to walk for two days to reach Law Thaing village and I arrived on November 29 . We stayed there for three days and returned to Payaw village on December 3. On those days we stayed there, we visited to our relatives' houses and bought two pigs and put in a closet. Then, we tied those pigs and pulled it along the way when we return back.

 

 

The local SLORC troops always accused the innocent local ethnic population as supporters of the armed ethnic opposition and if refused, they were terribly treated by soldiers.

 

When did you meet with Burmese soldiers (the most local villagers used the SLORC troops as Burmese soldiers) and what they asked you?

We left from Law Thaing village in the morning of December 3. My grand-children pulled the pigs and we walked along the way of Kin Chaung river. In evening about 6: 00 p.m. when we arrived in a place Naw Gyar Ai (Ai Shay in Burmese), we met three Burmese soldiers surprisingly and had no time to flee away as I was an old woman and we had another two pigs with us. The Burmese soldiers shouted to us not to flee and if we flee, they will shoot. They arrested all of us and brought us to the place where they make a temporary camp. We had to walk there for one hour to reach from the place we were arrested.

 

 

Accusation against local inhabitants as supporters of ethnic armed opposition groups

 

As soon as we arrived to their outpost, they tied my grandson with ropes. I saw there were about 30 soldiers and 11 porters in the camp. All of them were taking a rest and they prepare shelter to sleep. Then, the commander with rank Captain ordered his men to bring me to meet him.

 

He asked me many questions such as where I was staying, about the fighting and background of our family. I answered recently I stayed in Law Thaing village and now I stayed in Payaw refugee camp and I was a Christian. He also asked me did I know the fighting happened just previously between Dar Lace led Karen rebels and Burmese soldiers and made sure where was the base of Dar Lace group. I told him I did not know the happened fighting as I was in Payaw. I also did not know who was "Dar Lace" and his base.

 

He asked who was the young girl accompanied with me and how she was related with man. I told him that those young girl and man were my grand-children. When he asked me the young girl was already married or not, and I told him the true that she was not married yet. After parents died and she had came and took refuge along with me.

 

The sex discrimination always happened by forces. Mostly, thee Burmese soldiers including senior officers always threatened the victims to kill and they abused discrimination of rape.

 

Then, how he threatened you and what he violated on you?

He did not make any problem to me, just threatened me that I bought pigs from village illegally (without informing to the military) and he can confiscate pigs, arrest me and sent to Ya Bu military detention center. I told him that I bought pigs just to use for Christmas Day and to sympathise me not to confiscate. Then, he let me went back to the place where the soldiers put to stay that night.

 

Later, what the treatments were made by commanders and soldiers?

About 9:00 p.m., the soldiers who got the order from that officer, came and brought my grand-daughter to Captain. After one hour, my granddaughter shouted that "grand-ma, please help me", "please came here". All of us, including porters, soldiers nearby heard her loud voice and but nobody dared to help her. Nobody slept yet at that time. The incident place was about 15 meters far from ours. For a while, she came back with crying voice and explained me that the officer raped her. While he was telling about the incident, one soldier shouted us to sleep and stay quietly. May be, other porters and soldiers slept well, but me and granddaughter could not sleep for the whole night.

 

Sex discrimination against elder women by SLORC officer

 

What were the soldiers treatments on you?

About 4:00 a.m. in the morning on the next day, one warrant officer came and told me that the officer agreed to release all of us, but he will confiscate the pigs. And, I told him it was very important for me to get back pig to the camp and please give one pig and confiscate another one. He said he don't know what was the decision of his officer and it needed to ask him. He told me he will bring me to him and will help explaining to get one pig. I agreed and followed behind him to meet the officer again. On the way, before we reached to officer's tent, when we arrived under a cluster of bamboos he gripped me with his hands tightly and tried to fall me down on the ground. I tired making insult from his rape, but he threatened me with knife to kill and then raped me.

 

 

 

Interview #2

 

Name: Naw Maw Nee

Age/ Sex: 17 years/ Female

Nationality/ Religion: Karen/ Christian

Occupation: refugees

Native Place: Law Thaing Village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division

Interview Date: January 10, 1996.

 

The most of ethnic civilians could not speak Burmese, and it is a weak point for them in communication with Burmese soldiers and they have been always looked down and maltreated by soldiers.

 

Accusation against the ethnic community as rebel-supporters and discrimination against them

 

When you arrived to military officer "Bo Gyi (Captain)", what he talked to you?

As soon as I arrived to him, there was no body there and he asked me can I speak "Burmese". I said "no", I can't speak Burmese and he said he can speak Karen. And he also spoke in Karen to me. Continuously, he asked me that how I was related to the old woman and man who accompanied with me along the trip. I told him the man was my cousin and the old woman was my grand-mother.

When he asked me did I know Karen rebel leader Dar Lace, I answered I don't know. He said, why did not know Dar Lace. He was a Karen and I was also a Karen, I must know him. I said I really don't know.

 

 

Did they ask you why did you stay in refugee camp?

Yes, he asked me. I told him my parents died and then I stayed with grand-mother as I have no other relatives. And I did not know how to work to get income. He also asked me what kinds of assistance distribution we received in the camp. I explained him that we received rice, fish paste and salt. He also asked our occupation in the camp and I answered we cultivated rice in hilly area close to the camp.

 

 

Sex discrimination after threatening to kill the victim

 

Did he force you for rape?   If so, how did he try to rape you?

He said, he sympathised on me and told me he would like me to stay with him. He said he loved me too. He said it might be too tire for me in cultivation works and can created better lives with him. Anyhow, I refused that I don't want to stay with him. He forcibly embraced me and kissed me and I also tried making insult. I shouted and cried out for help to my grand-mother. While I was shouting he gripped me tightly with his hands and showed me a hoe which was put nearby and threatened to kill me if I was not quiet. He said he will kill me with that hoe and inhumed me there. He shouted me that don't make him to be angry. His body fell down on me and then, he raped me.

 

 

 

LOCATION MAP OF INCIDENT

(these explanations correspond, in order, to the items in the Legend)

Motor Way

Incident Area

Walking Track