* 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 4/96  (August 15, 1996)

 

 

Indigenous individuals and peoples are free and equal to all other individuals and peoples in

dignity and rights, and have the right to be free from kind of adverse discrimination, in

particular that based on their on their indigenous and origin or identity.

Article 2, UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

 

 

The Suppression on Karen Villagers with Allegation of [being] Rebel-supporters

 

The Tactics for Ceasefire Agreement

 

The main ethnic nationalities of Burma, Mon and Karen, have struggled for greater autonomy of self-determination and establishment a democratic federal union, since Burma retained Independence by means of armed opposition. Since then the local villagers of both ethnic communities have been suffered with the same kind of human rights violations by government troops for nearly five decades. Unlike the Mon ethnic people, the most Karen population is inhabiting in local rural but eastern part of lower Burma mountainous areas. After the military regime SLORC took a bloody coup in 1988, it attempted to reach ceasefire agreement with over a dozen of ethnic armed oppositions. But consistently, in the situation when the SLORC talked with those armed oppositions, its local troops also forced the local community with abuses until failed to keep tolerance and persuade their same ethnic armed forces to agree for ceasefire.

 

When the SLORC tried forcing the NMSP (New Mon State Party), an armed opposition representing the Mon people, its local troops also pressured the local Mon population to persuade their close NMSP leader. According to the local sources, at the time before the NMSP reached ceasefire agreement, they always claimed to local Mon villagers, "if your NMSP did not make a ceasefire agreement with us we will always accused you as supporters of Mon rebel and you have responsibility to tell your leaders to talk with us". Normally, the Mon or Karen troops always keep contacts with their same ethnic community for their struggles in proving foods, information, recruitment, tax and etc.. Therefore, as soon as the SLORC troops arrived to a Mon or Karen village, they always asked where is the bases of nearest base of rebel troops and its forces. When the village headmen could not provide accurate information, they will be again accused as rebel-supporter or if someone in village was relative of a rebel, he/she was inhumanely treated by soldiers. By curbing the activities of the rebels or pressuring them to start or complete ceasefire agreement, by the way, the SLORC has launched this inhumane tactics.

 

According to records we received in duration even the NMSP was talking with SLORC, many Mon villagers were persecuted to death without trial and several villages were destroyed or dislocated by SLORC troops under the accusation of rebel-supporters. Some villagers were disappeared after they were arrested by soldiers, while some villagers were tortured to death or killed on the spot. Furthermore, those villagers were more conscripted in forced portering for carrying the logistics of the troops or labour in infrastructure projects managed by the local battalion commanders. In destroying the local villages which were suspected as bases of rebel, the SLORC mostly burned those villages by torching or shelling with fire. Additionally, the women who were accused as rebel-supporters have been sexually violated by SLORC soldiers when they went into villages.   Then the villagers were displaced or dislocated, and fled to border refugee camp.

 

In some areas the population of Mon, Karen and Tavoyan peoples are overlapped and whether their same ethnic armed forces agreed on ceasefire or not, all communities have been equally conscripted for forced labour in government infrastructure projects. Recently, those three ethnic communities of lower Burma terribly forced to work in the railway construction and many of local inhabitants were displaced. In fact, many families of Karen and Tavoyan also fled and sought refuge where the most Mon refugees have settled and received assistance of foreign aids agencies.

 

All repressions on ethnic community mean the persuasion of SLORC to concerning ethnic opposition forces to lay down arms or stop fighting. The ceasefire agreement is alike creating the legitimate role for SLORC as a champion of peace for safety of the country and unification of a whole. Surprisingly, the SLORC would never like to accept as champion of peace for Burma for sure. According to their understanding of SLORC troops, the ceasefire agreement is a temporary and just an initiative thrust for the surrendering of all ethnic armed forces to Burmese Army. The SLORC officially declared that all ceasefire groups must surrender to them after they completed State Constitution and on the eve of army sponsored national election. If so, the ceasefire situation must be unrest and exploded out again and the country could not relax in longer peace situation.

 

The SLORC has been used on local Karen community with tactics creating troubles and through them, it has persuaded armed opposition KNU for ceasefire talks. The Karen local villagers have been faced the similar difficulties as Mons before the NMSP disagreed to stop fighting. After the three rounds of ceasefire talks, starting from December 1993 up to June 1995, got stuck without solutions between NMSP and SLORC the most Mon population in local areas and Mon refugees in Thai-Burma border had been suffered from the abuses of SLORC concerned local troops. The NMSP was given name as betrayer of ceasefire talks and in stead of launching offensives to Mon bases and military headquarters, the SLORC had consistently implemented the destruction of Mon local communities. Many Mon villages were dislocated or destroyed in local areas and the Mon refugees were arrested and their camp residence was torched in duration 1994-1995. Baleh Donephai, a section of the biggest Mon refugee camp Halockhani, was torched by Burmese troops IB No. 62 on July 21, 1994 and about 15 Mon refugees were taken away as hostages. That incident was a burden pressure for NMSP to decide in their organization to resume talks with SLORC again.

 

Meanwhile, similarly with Mon refugees, the Karen refugees have been suffered as victims of kidnapping and destruction of their camp residences. All such activities of SLORC pressed the KNU to consider for talks with them. In 1996, even the KNU arranged several rounds of talks with SLORC in Moulmein, capital of Mon State in Burma, the local SLORC troops have never lessened their inhumane violation to innocent Karen villagers in spite of launching offensive to KNU. The high rank military officers in Moulmein or Rangoon never ordered to halt the activities of human rights abuses of their men. The situation has been worsening and then hopeless and helpless villagers have became as displaced persons or refugees in the border areas.

 

 

The human rights violation on Karen villagers in Yebyu Township

 

Following the unacceptable methods or tactics of SLORC, many local Karen inhabitants of Yebyu township of Tenasserim Division have been suffered. In area where Law Thaing and Ya Bu village group are situating (see in attached location map, page 11), since dry season October of 1995, the fightings between KNU guerrillas and SLORC troops always occurred very often. As a result, the local Karens villagers were maltreated by SLORC's Burmese soldiers such as arbitrary arrests, torturings and killings. Their living stocks also destroyed or confiscated by soldiers.

 

Law Thaing village has only 50 households and all villagers are Karen who believe in Christianity. Their main professionally occupation is farming of highland rice cultivation. The most farmers have grown rice in the hilly and valley areas east of their village.

 

On December 10, 1995, after the fighting occurred between local SLORC troops from IB No. 104 led Col. Htaung Yaza and a small KNU guerrilla force occurred in a place about 5-6 kilometer east of Law Thaing village. The Burmese troops angered to local villagers. As soon as the fighting was over three Karen farmers' huts nearby including rice and other living stocks were burnt down into ash by the Burmese soldiers. Those farm-huts were owned by U Kyaw Tin, Saw Kar Karr and Saw Maung Lee. Totally about 80 baskets of unpolished rice of those farmers were destroyed and they were also arrested by soldiers to be porters and interrogated them about the guerrillas. They were also accused as supporters of KNU guerrillas and detained in IB No. 104 base in Kyaukadin village for 15 days.

 

After two days of the fighting on 12 December, Captain. Myint Kyaw of IB No. 104 came into Law Thaing village again and arrested 21 villagers including village leaders and women who were accused relatives of KNU solders. They were also detained in Kyaukadin military detention cell for 15 days. The names of those villagers are:

 

(1) Saw Sar Nar (male)

(2) Saw Sar Too Har (male)

(3) Saw Pho To (male)

(4) Saw Phee Yo (male)

(5) Saw Pho Ke (male)

(6) Saw Bale War (male)

(7) Saw Koo Kay (male)

(8) Saw Pay (male)

(9) Saw Phar Bee (male)

(10) Saw Maw Yawe (male)

(11) Saw Bar (male)

(12) Saw Baw Tho (male)

(13) Saw Maung Khin (male)

(14) Saw Htoo Thar (male)

(15) Saw Pla Nar (male)

(16) Naw Kyae (female)

(17) Naw Chae (female)

(18) Naw Aye Loo (female)

(19) Naw Day Jay (female)

(20) Naw Lay Pow (female)

(21) Naw Phaw Plar (female)

 

After every incident, the Burmese soldiers firmly ordered to villagers around the area including Karen villagers from Ya Bu village group, to not travel east of their village to harvest or other business. If they met on the way, those travelling villagers must be accused as rebels and must be killed.

 

Since then, no villagers dare to harvest their rice in east side of their villages and the rice products were absolutely ruined after it getting too ripe. Besides such maltreatments because accusation of rebel-supporters, the villagers also have to provide forced labourers for Ye-Tavoy motorway re-construction and railway construction as regular basis. Additionally, the villagers also have to work for military such as collecting facilities for military barrack and building bunkers, trenches, stores and other buildings in respective military bases and outpost. Several kinds of tax are also collected by local Burmese troops.

 

Since the military restricted the movement of the villagers for harvesting and collection forest products, those villagers have been facing hardship to get food and income for the survival. There was no more choice for some villagers who have nothing to sell and then abandoned the village and fled to border refugee camp.

 

 

The Focus of This Report

 

This issue of report just mentioned the situation on Karen population in Yebyu Township as they are still accused as rebel-supporter and they were severely treated by SLORC local troops. Since December, several of Karen villagers fled into Payaw Mon refugee camp which was close to Law Taing and Ye Bu villages. The HURFOM human rights workers had opportunity to conduct interviews with those Karen escapees. From them, we have been reported and understood that the Karen population is suffered than Mon in Yebyu Township.

 

Among several conducted interviews, we selected two best interviews that described more detail situation of the Karen ethnic community, human abuses committed by SLORC and livelihoods of them. To protect safety of them, we changed all of the names of interviewees. However, all events and stories are 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: Saw Kyaw Lay

Sex/ Age: Male/ 36 years

Nationality/ Religion: Karen/ Christian

Occupation: Farmer

Native Place: Law Thaing Village, Yebyu Township

Interview Date: 24 January, 1996.

 

The ceasefire agreement between the NMSP and the SLORC could not prove for the betterment of human rights situation in almost area where the Mon and Karen are inhabiting. Such human rights abuses forced the local villagers to abandon the villages and displaced.

 

 

Human rights abuses and refugee flux

 

When did you arrive to this refugee camp? Why did you decide to stay here?

I arrived here just three days ago. I came from Law Thaing village just two days walk and no trouble on the way. I have ever come here for several rimes recently about two years to sell or carry some products from Burma. Now I decide to stay for only this year. May be, if the situation is better next year, I will return back. But I cannot predict.

 

For this year, I think I could not provide them labour they needed and cash as well. When we were in villagers we were arrested to be porters or had to work for various kind in military barrack. We had to carry the military logistics in rotation basis of the villagers very often.

 

 

The instruction of the military in recruitment of porters

 

How many times you have to go with military operation as porter since September of 1995? What logistics did you have to carry?

I have been as porter for three times since September. My last time as a porter for Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 407 was on 23 December. In the last time before I left here, on that day, we had to go with military operation according to arrangement of village leaders with rotation basis among all male villagers. Recently, we always fled around the village and the forest nearby. When the Burmese soldiers returned back the battalion or moved to another way, we went back to village again. But when the villagers were arrested on the way you fled or in farm-huts, they were severely beaten by the soldiers. Later on, the commanders of Burmese soldiers issued orders and instructed to every village leaders in area that if they came to the village, they did not want to rashly arrest the villagers. They will ask kindly to provide them the needed porters. If the village disagreed with their instruction, they must burn down the village, they said. In our village, the village leaders have to give the local military battalion register of households and names of family members.

 

If you fled away when the troops came you will be accused giving information to Karen troops and must be severely punished by Burmese soldiers.

 

Since September and before I left here, I have been as porter for LIB No. 407 and No. 410 and IB No. 104, for three times respectively. At least, we have to walk with military operation or stay in their military outpost at least for three days. But in my last time, when I was as porter on 23 December, we asked to return back for Christmas festival on 25 December. So they released us on 25 December.

 

 

Portering case, in every trip the porters have to carry overloaded ammunition and other materials

 

We have to carry several materials mainly ammunition and foods. In first time I have to carry six big shells of ammunition with weight about 30 kilograms. No fightings on the way we walk. I, other four our villagers and 23 porters from another villages had to carry ammunition and foods for the troops for three days. The troops were, I think for LIB No. 410. I don't know the name of the commander, they have about 50 soldiers in that military operation. We have to walk up to Aleskan village. In second time, I have to carry their rice and soldiers' belongings such as their military bags and jungle boots. In the last time I carried rice and vegetables with weight about 25 kilograms. We had to walk only one day from Law Taing to Kyaukadin military, then we stayed one more working in barrack.

 

 

Inhumane treatment to porters on the way along the military operation

 

What were the soldiers' treatment on villager porters? Did anyone hurt in the portering?

We were always weak after we returned back for portering. The soldiers fed us only one meal with small amount of rice and bean curry. But they ate for two meals. If you had pass through some village, it was better you can ask foods for villagers. The villagers knew how the soldiers fed the porters and they sympathised. On the way, without the order from the commanders we could not stop and take a rest. If you were very tire and asked for a rest, surely they will shout and kicked you with their boots to hurry up. They always shouted that "it was army, you must know to follow the order and don't refuse". Some men were also beaten behind with jungle boots or rifle butts, if they walked too slow. Such treatments are normal in portering of Burmese troops.

 

 

You said they released you to celebrate Christmas festival. Do you think the military commander also respect for religious rights of your community?

Maybe. Col. Thaung Yaza is a Chin nationality. I think he is a Christian like us. May be, he sympathised on us. But they released us with works. We had to promise them we will work for them.

 

 

Beside the portering, the villagers also had to provide the facilities what the military needed in their military base. In every village community, they have to find out facilities and they, themselves, have to work in the military barrack.

 

 

Forced the villagers to collect materials which are needed to build the military barrack or daily uses.

 

What kinds of work they order you before you returned back and to give promise them you surely do for those?

When we returned back Captain Kyaw Myint told us that "if you would like to return back to village for Christmas festival, you might have to cut trees to send it" and we agreed. We promised them we will do it. He told us to cut down small tree with one feet diameter in forest and cut them into 5 feets length for 100 pieces. Then to sent those wood pieces to them. After the festival we have to go into forest in east of village, but at that time the military also ordered not to travel east side of motorway. But we had no more choice, we could not get trees around our village and plantation nearby.

 

Then four of us told village leaders and travelled to east side of village. We had to go about 5 mile from village and we spent four days to get all 100 pieces of one feet dimension wood. We were lucky, there was no activity of Burma troops at that area. Additionally, we brought it to village and then military base with five bullock-cart from village. Totally, we had to spend for one weeks cutting woods and bringing to military base.

 

I think they will build their barracks, bunkers and trenches with those woods. They also made fences with those woods. Not only us other villagers also provide such kinds of woods and bamboos. Some of them also worked in the construction of military barracks, bunkers and every jobs in the military base. .

 

 

Besides the facilities, what kind of other materials your villagers had to provide to that base?

Several things. Besides woods for the construction, the villagers also had to provide them with fire-wood. Before I left, myself and another one villager collected fire-wood from every houses in the village and then, we sent them two full bullock-carts fire-wood. We gave it to Captain Kyaw Myint.

 

Sometimes, the commanders sent letters to village leaders and asked for vegetables or meats. Then, we have to send them vegetables and pigs from the village. If they asked chicken, we had to give them at least ten chicken. If they asked for pig, a t least we have to give them one pig, they did not accept one or two kilogram of pork. In Christmas festival, they also asked for one pig, and we gave them.

 

 

You said the military barred the villagers not to travel east of Ye-Tavoy motorway.   Why?

Because of fightings between Karen and Burmese troops. In October and November when the Burmese troops from LIB No. 407, 410 and IB 104 launched patrols and military offensives, they were ambushed by Karen guerrillas for several times very often. When their officers died they angered too much to Karen villagers around the area.

 

On December 10, there was a fighting happened in south-east of our villagers about 6 kilometers far. The Burmese troops were IB No. 104 of Kyaukadin. According to Ya Bu and Kyaukadin villagers, many Burmese soldiers got injuries. So they angered too much to Karens. After battle was over, some rice plantation were burnt down by Burmese troops. Then, they issued the order to every village not to move east of motorway as I mentioned. The order was still functioned up to the time I left here. The village leaders warned us not to go east of village. If they (the soldiers) met on the way they will kill for sure. They also ordered the farmers who were in plantations to returned back and stayed in the village.

 

 

Accusation on local villagers as rebel-supporters

 

Severe torturing committed by SLORC accompanied with accusation of rebel-supporters, after the fighting ceased.

 

On December 12, Captain Kyaw Myint himself came into villages and arrested about 20 villagers including women and village leaders. He brought them to Kyaukadin. They accused those villagers were the relatives of Karen guerrillas. The guerrilla leader is Dar Lace. They said those villagers are relatives of Dar Lace and his men. Some young men also joined with Dar Lace troops and sometimes they returned back to village. The village leaders cannot bar them. Actually, those all arrested villagers are not relatives of rebels, but some of them. They detained them for 15 days in Kyaukadin military detention. Some of them were severely tortured and I don't know they raped the girls or not. They were beaten when the military interrogated about the rebels. They were put under hot sunshine in mid-day and poured water on their heads. Sometime, they closed the faces of villagers and beated them. Next time when they launched the military operation, they also brought village leaders of every Karen village around the area to show the places where KNU group took base.

 

The situation is very serious. After their men died, they always beated Karen wherever they met. The Karen men who travelled to Kalein Aung or Aleskan always described that they were always beaten by Burmese soldiers in military checkpoints on the way or when they met soldier in mid-way or sometimes, even on the truck.

 

 

Restriction of movement of local villagers has effected the rice production of that area and as a result, those local inhabitants have to abandon their native village and displaced.

 

 

Why did you decide to leave here (Payaw refugee camp)?   What are difference between here and your village?

I also have a small highland rice plantation east of my village near Kin Chaung (river). After fighting, I had no opportunity to have a look in the plantation and then to harvest. I did not know what happened in my plantation. I would like to go, but my wife stopped me not to go. She said it was too dangerous, she worried the soldiers will kill me. After they were ambushed, the Burmese soldiers launched very often patrol around the area to catch the Karen rebels. But the Karen troops were disappeared.

 

I left nothing. Our family was totally depended on that plantation and we had no more rice even in Christmas festival. We had to borrow sticky rice from other houses to make foods. I also grew sticky rice in the plantation, but I lost all of it. Nobody in our village did not dare to go to plantation and you had to sell belongings to buy rice. I have no much belongings to sell and then decided to come here.

 

Some difference here and my native village. Here I don't have to worry for foods and portering, working for military and no tortures. But I get very small house surroundings, but I would like to return back again when the situation is better.

 

 

 

Interview #2

Name: Tar Lae

Sex/ Age: Male/ 43 years

Nationality/ Religion: Karen/ Christian

Occupation: Farmer

Native Place: Ya Bu Village, Yebyu Township

Interview Date: 29 January, 1996.

 

By using the guerrilla warfare tactic, the ethnic nationalities of Burma have struggled for autonomy and establishment of democratic federal union since independence day of Burma. The central successive Rangoon governments could not defeat those oppositions even they consistently increased their forces, but they used inhumane tactics of discrimination on ethnic communities. The interviewees explained his experiences of his community.

 

 

Why did you flee from the village to here (a place near border area under the control of NMSP) and how often the Burmese troops came into your village?

I came here because I don't want to stay in the village more. All our villagers have provide to the Burmese soldiers with porters or cash, and they always beated villagers when they dissatisfied. They came into village very often. At least two times in one month. I don't know how many times they sent letters to village leaders within a month. But every time, when the Burmese officers sent letter, the village leaders will ask for a meeting and then we had to provide labourers for railway construction, motorway construction or portering. Every time the Burmese soldiers came into the village they always asked for porters. I have ever been as porter of Burmese soldiers for several times.

 

 

According to the villagers from Law Thaing, they explained there were many fightings occurred in Ya Bu-Law Thaing area. Do you know about those and how is affected to your villagers?

I knew well. Because I was a porter when the fighting happened in third week of November (he could recognize the exact date of incident). We were taken as porter by LIB No. 407. Before that day, when the troops came they asked porters form our village, the village leaders had to provide 7 villagers for them. Then we moved to east side of (Ye-Tavoy) motorway along the Kin Chaung (river). We left early morning on that day, and I have to carry rice and ammunition of them. The Burmese troops were led Col. Hla Htun and they had about 60 soldiers and about 30 porters including us.

 

 

Villager porters along with Burmese troops and mistreatments in the fighting

 

In mid day when we arrived in a place, the Karen soldiers shot us. I think the Karen forces had only ten. I didn't know how to flee. The bullets came too much to us and the Burmese commanders shouted us to lay down. We laid down on the ground and the officer ordered soldiers to advance and shoot. Some young soldiers (children soldiers) scared to advance and but they had to follow according to the order. One corporal took ammunition from me rashly and shouted me not to flee.

 

In the fighting, three Burmese officers died and other three got injuries severely. The three death included one Corporal, one Sergeant and one Lieutenant. The fighting took place just for 15 minutes and then the Karen soldiers fled away from the site. One rice plantation nearby was also burnt down because of the fighting. I don't know who owned that plantation. On the way when we returned we had to carry dead bodies up to Ya Bu and then to Kyaukadin. The left soldiers shouted us along the way to hurry up.

 

 

Restriction of movement of villagers and loss of chance for rice harvest

 

Two days later, the Burmese troops travelled to east of motorway again and burnt down the rice plantations and farm-huts around the area. When they returned back, they also ordered to villagers that not to move to east side of the village. It is terrible for us at that time, because many villagers were preparing to harvest their rice. We had no opportunity this year to reap rice and we lost all. Many villagers lost their rice like me.

 

Some of our villagers were also arrested with allegation of rebel-supporters and they were detained in Kyaukadin military detention. Next time, whenever the military launched the operation they asked village leaders, not as porters, to follow them and show them the base of the Karen soldiers. They also burnt the rice plantation of the Ya Bu and other villagers in front of village leaders but they could not stop the soldiers.

 

 

Taxation for portering cases

 

If you could not go for portering, what is the response for the Burmese Army?

If could not go for portering for some reason, you should have to inform the village leaders you have to pay at least 2000 Kyat to the military. Every time we were taken as porters we had to spend completely one week with troops and if they did not have move to anywhere you have to stay and work in the military barracks. The most our villagers are poor and could not pay. So when his father was busy the boys also had to follow with Burmese troops for portering as substitute.

 

 

Population movement in rural areas because of human rights abuses

 

Please describe me the background of your village?

Our village have about 50 households with nearly 300 population. Recently, our villages have about 100 households and then many families moved to refugee camp or joined into Ya Bu big village. Our village is small Ya Bu and the most call Ya Bu Ywa Thit (new village). Another village is Ya Bu Ywa Ma (big village) and our village under the administration of Ya Bu village group. Really our villager situated beside Kin Chaung (river) and since four years ago when the military launched four cut campaigns our village was relocated to this place (Four cut campaign is the attempt of the Burmese Army to cut off information, recruitment, logistics and tax from civilians to ethnic armed opposition). All the time, our villagers were accused as rebel-supporters by soldiers and they did relocate our village.

 

 

Besides the suppression related to the accusation as rebel-supporters by Burmese soldiers what another violations on your villagers?

Normally, we have to work in railway and motorway construction like other villagers.

 

 

(These explanations correspond in order to the items in the Legend)

Railway under construction

Motor Way

Karen village area which suppressed by SLORC troops

Walking Track