*† 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 6/96 ††(September 15, 1996)
NMSP - New Mon State Party;
SLORC - State Law and Order Restoration Council;
BSPP- Burmese Socialist Programme Party;
tatmadaw- Burmese Army;
KNU - Karen National Union;
MDUF - Mergui-Tavoy United Front;
LIB - Light Infantry Battalion of SLORC;
Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 23 (4). Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Forced Portering after NMSP-SLORC Ceasefire Agreement
The Focus of This Report
The decade-long conscription of forced portering in Burma is widespreadly taken place in most rural areas at present time. Regarding the arrest of villagers to be as porters along the military operation, the SLORC has complained as an existed law in constitution and the traditional practice of the army. Otherwise, the treatments to porters are really terrible and inhumane. Since SLORC took power it has tried to reach agreements for ceasing fighting with several ethnic armed oppositions and it officially accepted ceasefire agreement with 15 organizations, but some organizations resumed fightings again because of SLORC 's continuous human rights violations to their peoples.
To review and understand the human rights situation concerning the portering case after ceasefire, the HURFOM conducted several interviews with victims who were physically forced to be porters along the SLORC troops' movement. This report describes on portering issues and encloses two interviews, including an interview with child porter. Those interviewees are from different areas but they had suffered mainly for forced portering. They were also witnesses of other maltreatment of SLORC troops.
To protect the persons who were conducted interviews, the report does not use the real name of the interviewees and changed all their names. However, all events and stories were true which really happened in Burma. It is hoped that all information must be useful in helping the international community to halt SLORC from abusing such brutal human rights violations and promote internationally recognized human rights in Burma.
The Aggressive Behaviour of tatmadaw Recruitment of Porters
In one point of New Mon State Party (NMSP) and SLORC ceasefire agreement, the both sides have agreed not to conscript forced labour from the local population and to take only voluntary labour from them. In describing the definition of voluntary labour, the two parties have different opinions and it remained as an argument point in every meetings. The NMSP officials always mentioned in the meetings with SLORC higher authorities that the SLORC local military battalions have conscripted the villagers by forces to be porters. They also asked SLORC to stop arrests of forced porters. However, the SLORC has ignored the argument and never took actions to its military battalions which always arrested and used the villagers as porters.
Regarding the recruitment of porters, the SLORC ever claimed that it is part of traditional Burmese culture. In era of the Burmese kingdom, the kings recruited all male villagers who were in their control into army to be soldiers or porters. Not just only the Burmese kings, the kings over the world in the period up to 18th century recruited the civilians as soldiers or porters for their victories over their enemy. They also executed their enemy or recruited into their own army. In 20th century, the civilisation of the world community have changed and rejected all such inhumane behaviour of the army.
Besides, the SLORC ever claimed the recruitment of forced porters was existed as law and legislation in British colonial era and they also claimed that behaviour is copied from the British Army. In inquiry to this law and legislation, the HURFOM asked the experience of the elder persons who knew about British era. According to them, the British army used porters but it provided payment to those who were recruited with daily wage basis. The British army never conscript free labour from the civilians like SLORC without providing any payment.
However, the recruitment of forced porters to the villagers has been remained in the Burmese Army (tatmadaw) as an aggressive behaviour since it took power after 1962. Since the independence day of Burma in 1948, the Rangoon central government have launched the military offensives to ethnic armed oppositions and the tatmadaw has been gradually more and more powerful in Burma and up to situation the tatmadaw enabled to seize power of parliamentary government. Hence, the military government BSPP (Burmese Socialist Programme Party) has adopted ethnic cleansing policy in oppressing the armed opposition. Since then, the traditional behaviour of the tatmadaw conscripting of forced porters in rural areas have continued up to now. The order to get the porters for the military offensives always came from the higher authorities and later on, the soldiers behaved as a regular job arresting the villagers to carry the supplies or even their own belongings. For the military purposes such as launching offensives and moving the bases, the soldiers themselves would not like to carry their own logistics and ammunitions of their own troops.
In arresting the porters, the manner of the soldiers and commanders has been different in different areas. In previous BSPP time, the tatmadaw officially conscripted forced porters even in their control area which is defined as White Area. Every time they launched the military offensives to ethnic rebels, the concerned local township authorities officially asked the needed porters from every villages -or quarters under the township administration. The villages which could not provide the requested porters, had to provide payment to concerned battalion to hire the substitutes. In 1980s when the military launched offensives following the four cut campaigns into mainly KNU territory, they officially asked for porters in Mon State. Most Mon villages had to provide villager porters to army especially the village militia, village BSPP members and ordinary villagers were conscripted. The porters had faced hardships along the military operation in the frontline and some of them died in the battlefield. Such official conscription of the porters was happened a few time. After the ordinary faced hardships in the battlefields, they refused to be porters along with tatmadaw. After the tatmadaw could not get porters from the villagers in its control area, they had to collect cash from the villages to hire substitute porters. Since then, every time the tatmadaw prepared for the offensives to ethnic rebels, the concerned military battalions have arrested the villagers by force.
Most of the time, when one battalion needed porters when they left to frontline, they came into nearest town or villages and rashly arrested the villagers for porters. After those local villagers were arrested they were detained in the military battalion's detention cell until the day the soldiers left to frontline. When they were in detention their families have chance to take them back by paying bribe to the military. When the military arrested the villagers for porters they arrested more numbers than the needed and from those more porters, the commander or his battalion can make money.
In arresting the porters in the urban or white area, the military always arrested in cinema theatres, coffee shops and on the roads sometime in day-time but usually in night time. In Burma, the BSPP and SLORC also checked the guests who arrived in a quarter of a town or village. The house owners have to inform about the arrival of the guests to the local officials and officials have to inform the main administrative office. If the house owners missed or forgot to inform the officials, those guests must be arrested by the officials and sent them to army camp. Then they must be used as porters or labourers for the military.
The method of conscription of porters in the area that is referred to as Black Area (free fire zone) is very terrible. Under the accusation of rebel-supporters, the military will arrest every able bodied male villagers when they reached into villages with regardless of age of the villagers and several children have been arrested to be porters. In fact, the villagers in the black area have to flee outside village when the time the military are in their village. While the villagers fleeing for escape the soldiers will shoot them to arrest. If someone was arrested he was terribly beaten by soldiers and asked many questions about the rebel in the areas. Then the soldiers will take him as porter or if they dissatisfied with that villager or accused him as supporter of the rebel, they will kill him. In some villagers, the soldiers officially asked the village leaders to provide them porters according to the numbers they needed.
The recruitment of porters in the rural areas is officially recognised by the higher officers. They allowed the soldiers to arrest villagers and to carry the ammunitions and supplies along the military operation or to use them in building the military barracks or other buildings in the battalion headquarters or outposts. Even when the New Mon State Party reached ceasefire agreement with SLORC, the SLORC did not reduce the conscription of forced porters in
Mon State and other territory where the Mons are inhabiting.
Unreliable NMSP-SLORC Ceasefire Agreement
In the ceasefire agreement, the both sides have agree not to conscript forced labour but they still have chance to ask voluntary labour. According to one Mon officials who participated in the ceasefire negotiation the SLORC have always claimed to reduce their activities in arresting porters and forcing villagers to work in the government infrastructure projects. While the negotiation was taking place, the SLORC always responded to the questions and promised that after ceasefire the situation must be better and there would be no more forced porters in Mon State. But they never mentioned that they will definitely stop arresting Mon villagers into porters in any areas such as Tenasserim Division or Karen State.
After the ceasefire, the situation never improved as the Mon leaders hoped. As soon as the NMSP accepted ceasefire agreement with SLORC, the Mon leaders travelled around the Mon villages especially Mon State and Karen State and explained the ceasefire points to Mon population. In their explanation, they always mentioned the Burmese troops will discontinue their conscription of forced porters or collecting porter fees to the Mon population. The local Mon villagers were very glad after hearing from the Mon leaders. But the local tatmadaw officers in the outposts of the local villages were dissatisfied on the explanation of the Mon leaders. After the return of the Mon leaders the tatmadaw local officers threatened to the villagers that those leaders have no rights to talk about portering case in their own territory. And they also claimed that the Mon troops must be withdrawn from their previous control areas and they have no chance to talk about the conscription of villagers. Since then, the local Mon villagers have suffered from the conscription of forced porters similarly to the situation before the ceasefire.
However, the SLORC still has to continue war with KNU (Karen National Union) and an other alliance of Tavoy and Mergui ethnic groups called Mergui-Tavoy United Front (MDUF). The most MDUF forces are based in Tenasserim Division and KNU forces are based in Karen State and also Tenasserim Division. In fact, the SLORC local troops still arrest porters to carry ammunitions and other supplies.
Besides, the SLORC local troops also collect tax regarding to portering cases. When they launched the military operation to any area, they collected tax from the people and did not mention in detail for which operation they have to collect. The local villagers never knew the exact reason what the soldiers will use their cash and the most villagers think the military will not use their cash and take it for their own. Such portering tax is regular payment to the nearest military outpost or battalion. The rate of tax collection is also different between the black and white area. Officially, in the white area, the soldiers never dared to collect more tax as the community could inform the higher authorities and they have chance to approach the higher authorities to take action to corrupted officials. But when the time the army planned to launch an offensives the soldiers have more chances to collect more tax and they also could receive more payment after they arrested more porters. Since after the NMSP reached for ceasefire agreement, the military constantly arrested porters like before and forced them to work in their battalion or along with their troop movement.
Regarding to the arrests of the porters, the NMSP officials who have responsibility in liaison offices, always discussed and complained to stop such manner including conscription of forced labour in Mon areas. According to Mon leaders, the SLORC never responded to that complaint. The higher authorities also never took actions to their men who inhumanely abused the porters.
Appalling Situation of Porters and Conscription of Minors into Forced Porters
The victims who were forced to be porters consistently mentioned that whenever the army conscripted forced porters, they always took the children along with them to carry materials such as ammunition and other army supplies. Sometime, the military also conscripted the women to be porters and they treated those women terribly.
Why does the military conscript those minors into porters? Whenever the troops reached into villages, the most able bodied men fled from villages to avoid arrest and the children and women stayed in the village. When the troops arrived they always tried to meet the village leaders and asked for porters. Then the village leaders have to lie them that the most able bodied men are busy and could not provide the porters. Sometime when the military operation was not so serious to get porters, they just asked for cash from the village leaders. When the military operation was serious, they will ask just porters and did not accept the cash. If the village headmen could not help them, they went around the village and took the children and women from the village to carry their ammunitions and other supplies. Or, they will arrest those minor as hostages to force the male villagers to return back into villages and to be arrested.
The situation of the porters along with Burmese army is consequently terrible according to the victims who have been conscripted as porters. They were never fed enough/while the soldiers have enough foods for them and they were often beaten by the soldiers if they were dissatisfied with them. In most cases, the porters have to carry over-burdened logistics with them and they could not walk like soldiers. The tatmadaw which is surrounded with many enemy, always have to hurry in walking and they also forced porters to walk as quickly as them. In fact, the porters situation were terrible if they were got sick on the way and the military also mistreated on those patients physically and inhumanely. They were tortured or sometime they were killed and left on the way.
According to interviews we have conducted, some porters were the witness of the torturing and killing of the accompanied porters on the way after those porters were sick or weak and could not manage to walk more. In some cases, the villagers were also killed when the troops arrived into their villages. When the troops suddenly tried to arrest the male villagers in the village as soon as they arrived, several villagers fled to the outside of the villages and the soldiers shot them and they died on the spot. Some got serious injuries.
As mentioned above, the situation of the portering in Mon territory never improved since the NMSP has agreed for ceasefire. The villagers have been under the burden of forced portering and taxation related to the portering.
Name: Maung Myint Win
Sex/ Age: Male/ 27 years
Nationalities/ Religion: Mon/ Buddhist†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Occupation: Day labourer
Native Place: Morkanin village, Ye Township
Interview Date: September 9, 1996
(This interviewee was a victim of forced portering and he was severely beaten the tatmadaw soldiers. When he arrived to the refugee camp clinic of Baleh Donephai, his back was terribly damaged and infected. His two legs were also badly damaged and cared, and the medics in the camp had to treat him for nearly three week.)
When the time is close to launch a military operation or a patrol around the area the Burmese Army normally needed porters to carry supplies. And, they quickly arrested any male villagers or town residents whom were met on the way. This interviewee explained about the arrest of him by the Burmese soldier.
Sudden arrest of the civilians for porters and put in detention before the military left to frontline
When you were arrested by the Burmese soldiers to be porters and where?
When I travelled to Ye for a visit to my uncle on July 17, I was arrested by the Burmese soldiers. Before I reached to my uncle house while I was passing in front of the IB No. 61 battalion headquarters, I was arrested. When I reached in front of their compound, two soldiers who was standing in the entrance gate called me to meet them. I did not know what reasons they would like to meet me and I was not so afraid that they will arrest me. I though they needed some help from me to buy something.
But, when I reached to them, they told me I have to meet their officer. And I complained why I have to meet him and they did not tell me any reason and brought inside the battalion compound. When I arrived inside a room, they arrested me and threatened me not to flee and put me in that room and locked its door outside. I have to stay in that room nearly three hours and in the evening about 5 o'clock, three soldiers came and brought me to a detention cell. There were about 50 men inside the small cell and as I was not so clear why I was arrested and I asked a man. The man told me we were arrested for portering. But he also did not know where the Burmese troops will bring us.
Corruption among the military officials regarding portering
You said you met with other men, are they town residents or villagers who came to Ye?
Both. I think about half of them were town residents. The rest were villagers mostly who came to town with purposes to buy materials for their farms or houses. And the few others were also from other townships. They came to Ye for trading or to visit. On the first day, there were about 50 villagers in detention and on the next day about 6 men of Ye town left from the detention after they paid 3,000 Kyat up to 5,000 Kyat each to the commander. One Sergeant also told me if I paid them 5,000 Kyat they will release me soon but the payment must reach to them in evening (of July 18) and they will release me as soon as they received cash. Or, the troops will leave on the next day early morning to the Three Pagoda Pass and brought all porters. Then I was very afraid of being a porter with Burmese troops to Three Pagoda Pass and I approached those Sergeant to ask my uncle for payment. The Sergeant would not like to find out my uncle but he had no time and had to prepare for the trip. I was detained for two nights and on the next early morning, they troops brought us by trucks to a village and by boats to Kyaung Kywa.
Did you ask other detainees how they were arrested by the Burmese troops?
They were arrested like me. One man was arrested in a shop that sells groceries for farming and fishing, and the two soldiers came with civilian clothes and arrested him and asked him to follow with them. He did not know they were soldiers and refused to follow with them. And, he was beaten by them and the man was too angry and he also responded bearing to those soldiers. Then, the soldiers arrested him with the help of town policemen and brought him to the battalion. When he reached to the battalion they continuously beat him severely. So, he has a lot of injuries in his back. They never treated him with any medicine and then they also brought him to the frontline. As he was a strong farmer, he could tolerate the pains.
Severe beatings to the porters as soon as they were arrested
The other porters were also arrested by soldiers, mostly in town. According to town residents, it is normal for the Burmese troops to forcibly arrest the porters before they left to the frontline or changed their bases. The most porters were beaten or kicked by soldiers as soon as they were arrested. But commonly the did not arrest the town residents who they were familiar with them and they chose to arrest local villagers. For example, they did not arrest the shop-keeper of coffee shop and barbers but they will arrest local villagers who were taking coffee and cutting hair there. Even though, if you paid them 5,000 Kyat, it is OK, they will release you.
Inhumane treatment to the porters such as killing, torturing, lack of foods, and lack of medical cares to porter in sickness are normal situations that have always be fallen the innocent rural Burmese population.
Terrible life of the porters along the way with military
Can you explain me the whole story of when you were on the way with Burmese troops to Three Pagoda Pass?
Yes. when I was arrested I was very weak as I had from fever just one week ago. The reason I visit to my uncle is to buy some medicine. After I was detained for two nights in the battalion under the poor conditions of the room, I became more weaker than before and after we left from Kyaung Ywa, I got malaria. And my leg became pain and could not walk well and my walking rate was slowing down gradually. We left from Ye early morning of July 17. So I asked to a Sergeant to give me permission to take a rest. He told me "this is military operation, you have no chance to stop on the way" and his two assistance beat me with their rifle butts and jungle boots in my back several times. I was painful with severe wounds. It was very painful. I tried to walk along with them as possible I could and one villager who sympathise took two of rocket shells from me and my condition was became better. Totally, I have to carry six rocket shells that was weighted about 25 viss (40 kilograms) and it became heavier and heavier along the way. When we left from the Ye, there were about 50 porters along with 200 troops and more than 10 porters escaped away on the way. The soldiers were too angry on those escapees and threatened that if we fled they will shoot. When the porters fled they did not take ammunitions or supplies which they had carried and the soldiers put those left heavy loads to left porters. As I was sick enough, they did not put on me.
Lack of medical care to the porters
Did you have to sleep on the way and what kinds of treatments did the military provide you?
We have to sleep one night in Baleh Donephai village (a section of Halockhani Mon refugee camp, which was burnt down by Burmese troops in July 1994, before the NMSP reached for ceasefire agreement with SLORC) and my malaria became more terrible and I asked the villagers for some medicines and the villagers told me if I needed to get medicine I had to go to clinic. When I asked the Sergeant I would like to go to clinic he did not allow me. But he did not provide any medicine or treatment. An elder woman in the house gave me one kind of herbal medicine (which is traditionally produced from inside Burma) and some cups of plain tea. She treated me kindly. But the Burmese soldiers never provide me any medical care.
When you reached to Three Pagoda Pass did they (the Burmese soldiers) treat you in the Township Public Hospital?
No. We reached to Three Pagoda Pass on July 22 and they never allowed me to attend hospital for treatment. They did not release all porters who came along with them and put in Three Pagoda Pass battalion headquarters for three days. They did not allow us to go outside.
Looting of civilians' belongings
Along the ways and in their battalions' detention, did they give you enough food to eat?
No. They fed us with very few amount of rice and curry. Everyday, they fed with bad quality rice and bean curry. Sometime, when the soldiers passed into Karen and Mon villagers, they also took chicken and they cooked for meals. But they did not feed us. They also take some vegetables grown by villagers without asking permission from them.
Transferal of porters when the troops changed
Did they release yon in Three Pagoda Pass? And was your health condition better?
No. They did not release us. They transferred us with the troops that returned to Ye. The battalion was LIB No. 343 and when the troops returned back to Ye, all porters from IB No. 61 were transferred. The Burmese soldiers took all about 40 porters together with another 150 porters who were arrested around the Three Pagoda Pass area.
My health condition became more terrible than before and I was very weak and I asked the soldiers for many times for treatments and they never allowed me. The wounds in my back also became more painful and I thought I will die at that time. When the troops returned back, they also brought us and I have to carry ammunition again. We left from Three Pagoda Pass on July 26. My scars became painful more and more. And I told them I could not carry because of my wounds and sickness. They beat me again. On July 26, we have to sleep one night before we arrived to Baleh Donephai. I escaped at night time when too heavy rain fell.
The escaping of the porter and well medical treatment in border refugee camp
After you escaped, where did you go and what happened on you?
I was too tired and anyhow, I had to escape. If they knew I escaped, they will kill me for sure. I was in the rain for the whole night and I could not sleep. But, I could not leave in early morning. If I left early morning, I could meet with them and I had to delay my time in the forest. About 10: 00 a.m., I left to Baleh Donephai. When I was close to Baleh Donephai, I did not dare to enter in the village and when a villagers walked out from the village, I asked him about the Burmese troops. He said the Burmese troops already left and suggested I could enter into village. When I arrived in village, I asked the villagers where is the clinic, they brought us to clinic. I have to treat my wounds and sickness here (in clinic of Baleh Donephai where we conducted interviews). The medics are very kind to me.
When you will return back and do you dare to return back?
I will return back to my village soon after my health condition is better.
Name: Ah Naing
Sex/ Age: Male/ 13 years
Nationality/ Religion: Mon/ Buddhist
Native Place: Min Thar village, Yebyu Township
Interview Date: August 12,1996
Since the Burmese Army attempted to defeat the ethnic armed opposition, they have violated various points of human rights of all villagers including the ignorance of using forced labour of children. In fact, several children under 17 years have been consistently used as forced porters in
offensive frontlines of Burmese Army (tatmadaw). The interviewee with a 13 years old described his story as follow:††† (His father was also present at the interview)
When you were in your village, what was your work?
I helped my parents in rice-field. The work is not so hard, I just help them as I can. In rainy season, I and my father have to catch fishes with a small boat or angle fishes in our farm for extra income. I just helped my parents. The work for me is not so hard.
Regular arrest of villagers to be porters and lack of time for farming activities
Did you ever attend the school before you worked in your father's farm? Why did you left from the school?
I attended the school when I was about 7 years old. I left school three year ago. I passed only second standard. Once, while my father was arrested by the Burmese soldiers (to be porter according to his father) my mother was alone in our farm and she also looked after my young sister, and I left from school to help my mother. At that time, my uncle Ah Win (who helped his parents) also went into Thailand (illegally to seek jobs). I had to reap grass to feed catties in the farm. My mother could network such heavy job. My father was away for three weeks and when he returned back he was in sickness for another two weeks. When he recovered from the sickness, I also tried to attend the school again. But I did not understand the lessons and I was disappointed. Then I left the school. (His parents are illiterate and did not encourage him much to attend school)
When you were arrested to be porter and what kind work did you do for the military? Please describe to me how you were arrested?
At beginning of this year (in February, according to his father), when I returned back from our farm I was arrested by the Burmese soldiers (of LIB No. 409, according to his father) in a place on the way before I reached to entrance of the village. And, they asked me where did I come from and I told them that I just returned back from my farm, and they force me to follow with them. I was afraid of being killed by soldiers as they had gun and I followed with them. An officer, the battalion commander, ordered me to carry his bag. Then they went to the north for the security of the railway (Ye-Tavoy under-construction railway). We walked along the way and in the evening we reached to Kalein Aung. In the military barrack of Kalein Aung, we have to sleep for one night there.
Food supply collection in the local villages
What the treatment did you receive from Burmese troops? Were they very bad to you?
The commander was not so bad. Likely he loved me and he fed me whatever he ate. When the other villager porters never got any meat in their meals, he fed me chicken or pork curry every day. When the Burmese arrived in our village every time, the commander always ordered the village headmen to provide such sorts of meat. After the troops left from the villages, the village headmen had to collect from the villagers and paid to owners of pigs and chicken.
However, the rest soldiers were very bad. Along the way, they always beat the villagers who were walking slowly. They always shouted to villager porters not to be lazy and they put everything of their belongings to the porters. One soldier also added his jungle boots to my heavy loads after his foot were painful. Thus, my loads became heavier and heavier, but the commander didn't tell to his man.
The Burmese Army have treated to the child porters like the mistreatments they provided to the elder porters.† They had to carry the same heavy loads like men.
Terrible treatment to the child porter as elder villager porter
How many viss did you have to carry along the way up to Kalein Aung and did they reduce the loads on your back when you slowed down?
I have to carry about 25 viss (40 kilograms) of the commander's belongings. I did not have to carry the ammunition or supplies for the troops. All materials that I had to carry were owned by commander. Mainly his clothes in a small box, beers, beef cans, dried fishes and etc.. When he took breakfast or lunch, they have to prepare for him with special dishes that foods were made with pork or chicken confiscated or stolen from the villages.
Along the way, the soldiers or the commander never reduced my loads and they also put more materials on my back. On the way, sometime we had to cross the stream and it was very hard for me but other kind porters helped me. As I told you, one soldier also put his boots to me.
You said, the soldiers beat the porters. Why did they beat those porters? How many porters were beaten along the way?
Along the way, there were three porters beaten by the soldiers severely as I know. The kicking to porters who were walking slowly was normal for the soldier. One soldier also kicked me and he said to hurry up to follow his commander, because I had a piss in a bush and I was late to reach the commander. Then I hurried up.
One porter from Eindayaza village was very weak. I think he was getting sick. He was arrested by the Burmese soldiers before us. His walking rate slowed down on the way and three soldiers beside him shouted to hurry, but he could not. He asked the soldiers to reduce his loads and said he could walk more quickly. The soldiers dissatisfied on his complaint and beat him with rifle butts severely. They also threatened him not to make any complaint and to follow according to their order.
Did the commander know of such inhumane torturing of the porters? What was his response to his men?
Yes, he saw. That mentioned porter was beaten behind him and he said nothing to his men. But he ordered not to beat the head of the porter with rifle butts and told them to beat his body and legs. He didn't stop them.
Physically weakness of child porter
How many days did you have to walk with them and where did they release you?
For three days, we had to walk with troops. On second day, we arrived Kyaukadin village and we slept there for one day. On that day, because of the loads, I became weak and could not sleep for the whole night. My whole body was hot with fever and I told the commander to release me. But he refused to release me and reduced some materials from me and gave to the closest porter. He said, we had to walk to Aleskan village, when we reached that village he will release me if he got substitute. I did not dare to tell him for several times for my weakness and fever. I was also afraid he beat me. It was very hard for me to reach to Aleskan and on the way, we were not allowed to take and we had to walk directly to that village.
Lack of medical care to the child porter
Kindness behaviour of the local community helping each other
Then, what happened on you when you arrived to Aleskan and did their medic treat you?
When I reached to Aleskan village, my fever getting very terrible and then, I could not stand up more. So I lied down the village headmanís house and his wife treated me well. The medic never gave me any medicine. The housewife gave me some traditional medicine and hot water. I could not sleep for the whole night and she treated me for the whole night. On the next day, the troops left from the village. As I was in terrible situation, the commander did not bring me and left me. I think if they brought me again, I will die on the way surely. I was treated in Aleskan for three days, on those days I could not stand up or walk more.
Did your parents hear about that case and how can you return back to your village?
When I was in his home, the village headman asked my name, my native and my parents' names and he promised to contact my parents. After I stayed in his home for two days, my mother came to Aleskan and she cried when she met me.
Did she know that you were arrested when you returned back for the rice-farm?
No. She did not know that I was arrested by Burmese soldiers. When I was arrested, nobody saw the incident and my mother thought I travelled to Kywe-tho-nyi-ma village for a visit to my uncle there. When she met me in the bed, she was very surprised and she asked what happened on me. The village headman explained her that the Burmese troops brought me as porter with heavy loads. My mother wept for the whole day.
Did your mother bring you back on the day she arrived?
No. I have to stay there for more three days and she waited me to be recovered. The village headman and his wife were very kind to us. They helped us what we needed. Then, we returned to our village and whenever we have chance we visited to Aleskan and my mother always sent them sticking rice or dried fishes.
Official SLORCís Form for Portering Fee
Township Committee for War Victory,________Town
Receipt for Donation for War Victory
Name of Donator -----------------------
Amount of Donation (-----------) Kyat
SLORCís Order: Conscription of Forced Porters
Translation of the Order
Subject:† To provide voluntary labourer
Now, the rainy season has already started and it is the time to resume farming activities.†† As we knew, the villagers are afraid of being arrested by our military operation and fled away from villages, and the rice cultivation activities have been destructed in the area.†† Thus, we request to provide us two voluntary labourers from your-----------village and-----------village with rotation basis.†† If you provided such villagers, we will halt to arrest your villagers in the future. If you refused to follow according to our instruction, we will take firm action to the villagers when our troops reached your village.
Our tatmadaw military operation would like to see peace and happiness among the local villagers and please help us to complete your duty according to the instruction.
LIB No. 408, Operation (1)
Date: 6 June 1996