*  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 2/97  (June, 1997)

 


Report One

The Massive Arrest of Porters in Southern Part of Burma


Report Two

Forced Relocation in Gas-Pipeline Area

 

Some Acronyms

SLORC - State Law and Order Restoration Council,

NMSP - New Mon State Party,

KNU - Karen National Union,

IB - Regular Infantry Battalion of SLORC,

LIB - Light Infantry Battalion of SLORC,

Ma Wa Ta - Township State Law and Order Restoration Council

 


Report One

The Massive Arrest of Porters in Southern Part of Burma

The incidents, Killings and Gathering of Portering Fees and Ransom

 

In the offensives against the KNU from February through May, 1997, the SLORC has conscripted over 30,000 local civilians in Mon, Karen States and Tenasserim Division, to use as frontline forced porters to carry ammunition and other supplies. By cooperating with local police, town and village LORC authorities and security forces in the area, many town residents and villagers were arrested and sent to SLORC's Infantry Divisions namely 22nd, 33rd, 66th, 77th Divisions and other local battalions. Major General. Ket Sein was appointed as the chief commander of the military operation and the above mentioned Infantry Divisions, which were sent from Rangoon and other States and Divisions, also participated in main operators in this offensive.

 

All male civilians in various places such as coffee shops, markets, theatres, on the roads, trains, buses and others were arrested and the soldiers, local police and the security forces also conducted door to door search in getting the civilians. The arrested villagers were detained in every SLORC local battalions' headquarters and then they were sent group by group along with soldiers to front-lines. While the soldiers were attempting to stop the villagers from running they also threatened the villagers by shooting them with guns at behind. Or some villagers died because of shooting. Additionally, some villagers also died in detention because of sick and less of medical care provided by authorities.

 

 

The instances were:

 

In the third week of February, when SLORC's LIB No. 343 arrested the villagers for porters in Hangan village of Ye township, Mon State, the soldiers also shot at behind. One photographer in the village fled and jumped into a river and died as he could not swim. He came from town and stayed in this village for income with his professional work.

 

In the second week of March, when the SLORC troops from IB No. 32 arrested the villagers to use them as porters in Ma-U village, Kya-Inn-Seikyi township, Karen State, a 14 years old child was shot by the soldiers and died on the spot.

 

While many Karen and Mon civilians were detained IB 31 headquarters' detention center, Thanbyuzayzat town, Mon State, one Karen old man about 75 years died because of sickness. The arrested villagers did not receive proper and enough foods from the military and the old man health situation became very weak and additionally, he was not provided any medical treatment from the medic and after one week in detention, he died.

 

Many civilian porters died in the front-lines. They were used as human shields or minesweepers and the soldiers let them advance in front of the troops. Many civilians died and were left behind by the troops. The civilians were executed by the soldiers after their unsuccessful escape attempts.

 

 

The instances were:

 

One Karen villager from Kyauk Kya village, Kya-Inn-Seikyi was killed near Apalon village by a commander from LIB No. 356 in April after he tried to escape. The commander shot with his pistol after he was re-arrested by the soldiers.

 

One Mon villager from Taung Pa village, Mudon township, Mon State, was shot by the soldiers and died on the spot near Kya-Inn-Seikyi town while he tried to escape by jumping into Zami river from a ship.

 

The villagers always have pay more portering fees in duration while the SLORC was launching the military offensives against the KNU. The portering fees were collected in both rural and urban areas. The urban area had to provide only little amount of cash in comparing with rural area's populace. In normal situation, the civilians in the town have to provide 200-500 Kyat per month from each family and the rural villagers have to pay at least about 500-1000 Kyat per month. While the military launches offensives, they also collected emergency portering fees from the villagers to pay from 1000 to 2000 Kyat per month for one family.

 

Whenever the big offensives and the massive arrest of civilians were happened, members of all SLORC battalions have sought their own private income from these cases. The soldiers arrested more porters than the number set by the higher authorities and asked ransom from the left family members of the arrested villagers and then released them. The villagers who could pay a ransom of 15, 000 to 30, 000 Kyats to the commanders and their family members or relatives were released. In the last dry season offensives, the soldiers and all level of commanders could seek a lot of income from civilians by taking ransom. When the offensive was intensified, the amount of the ransom increased up to 50,000 Kyat per head because the family members tried to take their brothers or fathers back to avoid being porters.

 

As a result, because of the recruitment of the massive civilians to be porters and the consistent collection of portering fees, many villagers fled into border area's refugee camps and many young persons fled into Thailand to escape the arrest. This offensives and related arrests of porters created not only refugee problems but forced thousands of civilians to become immigrant workers inside Thailand.

 

 

The Set Order

The South-east military command instructed the respective township to provide the set number of civilian porters. To understand how the SLORC has instructed to get the needed number of civilian porters to use in frontlines, we also collect some issued order in rural villages. The township LORC, itself, instructed the orders and collected the needed number of porters. Besides the porters requested from township LORC, the soldiers, police and village security forces also arrested the villagers whenever they passed into the villages. They could make income from these extra arrested porters by asking ransom from the left family member.

 

The translation of the order is as below:

 


Confidential

 

Township Law and Order Restoration Council

Ye Township, Ye Town

Letter No. 100/2-10/Ma Wa Ta (Ye)

Date: February 8, 1997

 

To

Chairman

Quarters/ Village LORC (Ye Southern Part)

Ye Township

 

 

SUBJECT: Requesting military operational servants

 

REFERENCE: Instructing letter no. 1000/61/Ul, dated February 8,1997, by IB No. 61, Ye town.

 

1.          The IB No. 62 must have to launch an urgent military operation in near future and thus informed that it need about 200 military operational servants, and the quarters and villages must gather according to the set number mentioned in the list.

 

2.          Therefore, we informed that you must not be absent (must not be absent) in gathering the needed military operational servants for IB No. 61.  We will later inform more facts of the date, time and place how to bring these servants.   As it is an important matter, we informed again that you must not be absent (must not be absent) arranged to get the needed number of the servants.

 

Signed/-

Chairman, (Soe Win,....../2141)

 

cc to:

- Chairman, Mon State LORC, Moulmein

- Military Operation Board, No. 1 Military Operation, Moulmein

- Chairman, District LORC, Moulmein,

- Battalion commander, No. 61 Infantry Battalion, Ye town

- Office copy

 

 

The List of the Military Operational Servants to be Sent from Ye Southern Parts Quarters and Villages

 

No.  The names of quarters     The number of military            Remark

             and villages                  operational servants

1.

Yangyi-aung

10

2.

Yanmyo-aung

10

3.

Aungmingala

10

4.

Aungmyittar

8

5.

Aungthukha

8

6.

Thirinanda

10

7.

Thirikhayma

6

8.

Thirimala

6

9.

Thirisaya

6

10.

Ah-sin

10

11.

Zeepyutaung

10

12.

Duya

10

13.

Chaung-taung

10

14.

Hangan

10

15.

Kawzar

8

16.

Arutaung

8

17.

Abaw

8

18.

Kyaukmichaung

8

19.

Kyaung-ywa

8

20.

Koemine

6

21.

An-din

8

22.

Kalort

8

23.

Kaw-hlaing

8

24.

Tu-myaung

6

Total                                               200

 

 

Report Two


Forced relocation in gas-pipeline area


The Incident of Forced Relocation

 

February 20 was as a deadline, six Mon villages in Yebyu township area were ordered by the SLORC local troops LIB No. 406 and No. 273 to vacant their villages and moved into Kywe-tho-nyima village. These six villages are: (1) Maetaw, (2) Chabon, (3) Taungkhun, (4) Chaungphar, (5) Danikyar and (6) Maethantaung. These villages were accused as the bases of a robber group and that was why the SLORC troops ordered the villagers to move out from their villages.

 

Among all villages, the military conducted forced relocation process in Maetaw village first. On 6 February, about 60 soldiers and 20 porters from LIB No. 406 came into Maetaw village, with 100 households, and tied all villagers in the village's monastery and looted the belongings in every house. Village headmen and some young men were severely beaten by soldiers while they were interrogating how the connection between robber group and the villagers. They also cut the body of village chairman with a knife. One man (a carpenter) was beaten and hit a nail on his head. Two pregnant women were also beaten as they could not understand and speak Burmese language well. The soldiers stayed inside village for four days, on the last day, they also burnt down about 4 houses in the village and ordered the villagers to take belongings and move from the village. Within these days in Maetaw village, the whole village monastery was searched by soldiers and they also loot the fund from the abbot. The fund was accused by them that the robbers sent it to the monk and he kept on behalf of the robbers. They also accused the monk being have contact with robber and tried to disrobe him. After the commander contacted their headquarters, they had no evidence that the monk was a contact person of the robber group and repaid the fund again. This fund was gathered by the monk from the donation of the villagers to build a new monastery.

 

Similarly, the village headman from Chabon village, Nai Thein (over 40 years old), was also arrested and detained for two weeks in LIB No. 406 headquarters with accusation he was a contact person of the robber group. He was seriously beaten by the soldiers while they were interrogating him about the structure and the base of the robber group. He said he never contacted the group and because of his refusal, the soldiers covered his head with plastic sheets, poured the water on it and beat him.

 

The troops from LIB No. 273 also killed a 14 year old from Hmawgyi village, as he was accused as contact person of the robber group. The soldiers suspected the boy that he knew the houses of villagers where the robbers used as their bases. When the troops from LIB. No. 273 came into Maetaw, they also brought the boy and forced him to show the houses and when he refused that he did not know, he was severely tortured. Everyday he faced torturing by the soldiers and after six days he became very weak and the soldiers killed him outside of Chabon village.

 

Such mistreatments against the suspected villagers and finally, the forced relocation of a hundred years long local villages were happened. After the NMSP has loose control in the area, the robber group was formed and has had more chance to launch their activities to rob the boats in the Andaman Sea. The activities of this group also make threat to gas-pipeline project in the area and the response from the soldiers was more cruel against the suspected villagers.

 

At the end, many villagers abandon their belongings, houses, plantations, rice-farms, livestock and others and escaped from the forced relocation and related abuses. The 20 February deadline was adopted by LIB No. 406 and this news separated to all villagers and they had to suddenly move from the villages. A very little number of the villagers reached to Mon refugee camps, as the camps were posing not so safe.

 

 

Interview

 

To realize the situation of this forced relocation process, our human rights worker also conducted an interview with a Maetaw villager. He escaped to a Mon village, Koemine, in Ye township with his family and homeless and displaced there.

Name: Nai Tun Aye

Sex/Age: Male/ 52 years

Nationality/Religion: Mon/Buddhist

Occupation: Farmer

Native Place: Maetaw village, Kywe-tho-nyima village tract, Yebyu township, Tenasserim Division

Interview Date: 4 April, 1997.

 

 

When did you arrive here? And Why?

 

I arrived here one month ago. After all villagers from our village were ordered to move into Kywe-tho-nyima village, I moved and stayed there for half month. But I have no job and later moved into this village because I have relatives here. The Burmese soldiers did not allow the villagers to stay longer in Maetaw village and that was why we moved into other villages.

 

 

Why they did not allow the villagers to stay in their own village?

 

Because of a robber group which was active around the area, the Burmese soldiers accused us (the villagers) that having contact with the group and had allowed them to take base in the village. The soldiers came into village and mistreated all villagers including our abbot.

 

 

How did they mistreat the villagers and when?

 

I though on 6 February, the Burmese troops came into village and forced the villagers including children, elder persons and women to gather inside the village monastery's compound. They tied all villagers with ropes group by group. One group had about 13-15 villagers. They went into villagers and searched in each house and looted the belongings. They beat all men including village headman. I was also beaten by a soldiers. He beat me with his gun butt.

 

They asked us many questions about the robber group, and whenever we answered "I don't know", they beat us with gun butts or fists. Among all villagers, the village headman was severely tortured and his body was cut with a knife and got a lot of injuries. One man was severely beaten with gun butts by soldiers and his head was bleeding after he failed to escape from the tied group. A carpenter who was building the monastery was also hit with a nail in his head by the soldiers when they asked him many questions. Many villagers could not speak or understand the Burmese language well. When the villagers could not give answer they were beaten. Two women were also beaten because they could not speak Burmese and the soldiers angered to them.

 

 

Why did they accuse the villagers having contact with robber group?

 

Especially, they accused the monk and the village headman having contact with robber group. According to soldiers, they received a letter that mentioned the names of the abbot and the headman. We didn't see that letter. At that time, the abbot was building a new monastery and he received a lot of donation from our villagers and others nearby. They also searched the whole monastery and found about 150,000 Kyat cash in a box which was kept by the carpenter. The abbot let the carpenter keep this cash to buy the materials for the new building. After they found this cash, the soldiers firmly believed that the monk, headman and carpenter had a good contact with robbers.

 

 

How many days they tied up the villagers in monastery and at the end, how they ordered the villagers to move from the villagers?

 

They tied up all villagers for four days. They let some villagers to cook foods and sent to the left villagers who were inside the monastery's compound. Within four days, they kept contact with higher authorities to check how our villagers having contact with robber. Before they left they return the cash to the monk because the higher officers informed the commanders in the village that the robber had about 8 million Kyat altogether and the confiscated cash was very little when compared with the total cash, and it was not the cash from robber.

 

But they said the villagers to move to Kywe-tho-nyima village as soon as possible. They also burnt down four houses which were accused the owners were the relatives of the robber. The houses of (1) Mi Tin Hla with 90 baskets paddy, (2) Nai Maung Tint with 110 baskets of paddy, (3) Nai Twea with 40 baskets paddy, and (4) Nai Tet were burnt down into ashes. All villagers were afraid to stay in the village and moved into Kywe-tho-nyima village or other villages. Some also moved other townships such as Ye and Thanbyuzayat. Nobody in the village and no one dared to work in farms outside of the villages.