News, Personal Accounts, Report & Analysis on Human Rights Situation in Mon Territory and Other Areas Southern Part of Burma

 

The Mon Forum

Issue No. 4/99   April 30, 1999

 

The Publication of Human Rights Foundation of Monland (BURMA)

 

 

Contents

 

News:
(1) Forced relocation of Karen and Mon villages along Three Pagoda Pass-Thanbyuzayat motor road,

(2) Tax collection under the name of border area development program,

(3) SPDC pressure on Mon national education.

 

Report:

Atrocity, kidnapping and cash extortion by SPDC troops in Ye and Yebyu township area continue

 

Some Acronyms in This Issue

SPDC-            State Peace and Development Council,

SLORC-         State Law and Order Restoration Council,

IB -                  Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),

LIB-                Light Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),

KNU-              Karen National Union,

KNLA-            Karen National Liberation Army,

NMSP-            New Mon State Party,

MNLA-           Mon National Liberation Army.

 

 

News

Forced Relocation of Karen and Mon Villages along Three Pagoda Pass - Thanbyuzayat Motor Road

(APRIL, 1999)

In the first week of April, 1999, the Southeast Region Military Command, based in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, has ordered its local military battalions, mainly, IB No. 97, IB No. 32, LIB No. 230 and LIB No. 284, to relocate all majority Karen and some few Mon villagers from 12 villages to the 5 designated villages. The five designated villages are situating on the motor road and they are under firm control of SPDC troops. The five villages are, if recount from Thanbyuzayat town, (1) Yatagon, (2) Anan-gwin, (3) Taung-zun, (4) Maezalee and (5) Chaungzon and the deadline of forced relocation is April 30. The main purpose of forced relocation is to cut off communication and support from Karen civilians to KNU rebels and their military faction, KNLA.

 

Since the beginning of dry season, in February and March, the SPDC has increased its military activities along Three Pagoda Pass-Thanbyuzayat to force the KNU/KNLA troops out of this area. After IB No. 97 troops arrived and took base in Three Pagoda Pass town, this battalion ordered Karen troops to not collect tax on the motor road. After issuing orders, the Burmese troops continuously launched military operations against KNU/KNLA.

 

In the last week of February, KNLA troops also arrested 13 custom officers who returned from Three Pagoda Pass with civilian ferries and were brought by Karen troops to a hiding place. The KNLA troops also replied to IB No. 97 to not follow and attack them for safety of the government servants and appealed to allow KNU collecting tax on the motor road. However, Southeast Region Military Command did not listen and accept the appeal by KNU and formed a joint military operation to launch attack against KNLA troops. After six rounds of fighting, 7 of 13 arrested government servants died in the battle fields. After fighting, KNU released the rest servants.

 

In March, IB No. 97 battalion was changed with LIB No. 284 battalion to take base in Three Pagoda Pass town. Soon after the arrival of LIB No. 284 troops in Three Pagoda Pass town, Southeast Region Military Command planned to move all villagers, who have inhabited in this area for many years, to their designated village, because the villagers in villages along motor road are accused as KNU supporters. Thus, at the beginning of April, the SPDC joint military operation that includes IB No. 284, IB No. 97, IB No. 32 and LIB No. 230, have ordered the local villagers to move into their designated villages. The villages under the forced relocation order are as below:

 

Villages                            Households                 Population

                                        (estimated)                   (estimated)

 

(1)  Zee-hnitpin                       45                                220                                                         

(2) Law-shan                           150                              625

(3) Rat-phaw                           160                              840

(4) Yathay-taung                      65                                320

(5) Ka-kathit                            55                                220

(6) Ta-nyin                              120                              800

(7) Thanpaya                           180                              1400

(8)  Sin-pyay                           20                                120

(9) Khon-khan                         90                                480

(10) Ma-law                            85                                110

(11) Pan-aung                          40                                230

(12)  Tadein                            150                              1200

 

 

The SPDC troops also ordered that if the villagers failed to move from the villages, they must face punishment. First, the deadline for those village is on April 20. Due to the protection by KNLA troops, the SPDC troops delayed the deadline until 30 April. In tactics to stop the forced relocation of the mentioned villages, KNU ordered to close many main motor roads in third week of April and so the SPDC troops have to take security for these roads and have delayed to push the villagers into designated villages.

 

However, because of forced relocation order, the villagers in these areas have faced unstable situation and refused to move into designated villages, because there is nothing and no assistance must be provided by SPDC troops. Additionally, they could probably face maltreatment by SPDC soldiers Many native villagers owned fruit and rubber plantations, rice-farms, houses, live-stocks and other belongings in their native places and considerably they would not like to abandon their belongings. Thus, whenever the SPDC local battalions' military operation close to their villages, they have to flee from villages to escape from ill-treatment or punishment violated by soldiers. Following this unstable situation, the population displacement also occurs in many areas along Three Pagoda Pass-Thanbyuzayat road.

 

 

SPDC Pressure on Mon National Education

(April, 1999)

 

Before the government schools began in June, 1999, SPDC Mon State authorities have urgently called several rounds of meetings with government educational servants, village leaders and student parents, and have pressured through them for an increase of student numbers in their schools and to stop the children attending Mon national schools. In every meeting, they have called school headmaster/headmistress, village leaders to report the situation of the last educational year and the real numbers of students in school and the estimate numbers of students of Mon schools in every village. Then, they adopted rules for teachers and village headmen to find their own solution in the village community to give pressure to Mon national schools to stop their teaching.

 

As an example, on February 21 to 23, 1999, Ye Township PDC called a meeting with educational servants and village leaders from all villages and town wards and instructed them to organize the village students to attend government schools. The township authorities also threatened school teachers especially headmaster and headmistress that if the student numbers decrease in their schools, they must be punished. The punishment is that they must be ousted from the service or sent to undeveloped rural village.

 

Similarly, the government authorities in other townships of Mon State and Karen State also instructed their government educational servants to maintain the increase student numbers through from meetings or orders. This is the preparation of the government authorities to compete against Mon schools. The Mon education institutions have been established in many townships of Mon State and Karen State and have run Mon national education system with main objectives to maintain Mon literature with the modern education.

 

The problems why many students has moved to Mon schools have been connected with poverty in rural Mon areas. In government schools, the teachers have not tried hard to teach lessons but opened their own tuition classes and organized the students to attend these private classes in non-schooling time to pass the exams. The teachers receive very low salary and that is why they have found another (outside) income for their survival from these private tuition classes. Thus, the poor parents have to send their children to private classes by paying high price and later many students are resigned from schools because the parents could not pay for costs to join the private classes.

 

As an opportunity, in many Mon villages, the Mon community established many Mon national schools to provide Mon education. Based on patriotic aspiration, the parents have sent their children to attend Mon national schools. On the other hand, they did not have to pay various costs to pass the Mon schools' exams and the schools provided basic education with free of charge.

 

As a result, during education years from 1995 to 1998, the student numbers in government schools have gradually decreased and many students moved to Mon national schools. In some village, the student numbers in Mon schools were larger 3-4 times than the government schools and when the higher SPDC authorities inspected these government schools, they were furious on the school situation and tried to close down Mon schools which were accused as competing institutions against the government schools.

 

In July, 1998, the local Mon State PDC authorities have issued serial orders and attempted to close down Mon schools in many rural Mon villages. However, the Mon community under the leadership of wise monks is strong enough to protect the forcible closure of Mon schools operated by SPDC authorities including military intelligence officers. Very little number of Mon schools were closed and many re-opened after the authorities' inspection and action were completed.

 

Therefore, in coming 1999-2000 educational year, the Mon State PDC authorities worry about the reduction of student numbers in government schools and

that was why they have instructed to their government servants and local village leaders to encourage the students to attend government schools and stopped them from attending Mon national schools.

 

 

Tax Collection under the Name of "Border Area Development Program"

(April, 1999)

 

During March and April, 1999, when SPDC Mon State authorities planned to build a field hospital in Kyaung-ywa village of Ye township, where the area is under NMSP-SLORC/SPDC ceasefire zone, the local Ye township authorities also collected tax from civilians in the township because the government does not provide enough fund to complete the building.

 

In the SPDC's border area development program, it has planned to build schools and hospitals in various parts of Mon State because of their promise to NMSP or Mon people to develop Mon State within three years. Due to financial shortage in the government budget, the authorities could not make effort to install many development infrastructure in Mon State in according to their promise. Whenever they did or implemented these types of development projects in Mon State, they have just collected tax from the local community and it has been great burden for community to regularly pay tax to government authorities.

 

Thus, when the Mon State PDC authorities are building to build the Kyaung-ywa field hospital, they really need about 5 millions Kyat to complete the whole

construction. Some lands owned by villagers were already confiscated without compensated costs and the authorities have waited for budget adopted from the government. To build a hospital with about 80 meters length and 20 meters width in estimation, the authorities received only 1.7 million Kyat fund from government and they could not manage to complete the building that instructed by government authorities. Then, the government also instructed the local authorities to collect cash from civilians to complete the building. Hence, the local Ye township authorities collected another 3.3 million Kyat from civilians. According to local villagers, even a poor family has to pay at least 1,000 Kyat to authorities. Over 30 villages and town wards' civilians were forced to pay this fund.

 

According to one NMSP official who participated in ceasefire talks with government said, on the day when the ceasefire ceremony was holding, NMSP requested many development projects to adopt from the government to actually develop Mon State. In the meeting on June 29, 1995, SLORC's General Secretary No. 1, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, promised that the Mon State must be developed within three years.

 

Normally, the funds to do these development projects are transferred from the government's "Ministry of Border Development Program" and the government has provided only 25% or 33% of the total need in every project. While the government built Ye-Tavoy railway construction, the adopted budget is only enough to buy facilities and so the local military battalions have conscripted tens of thousands of local civilians to contribute labour in the construction. Similarly when the government constructed "Attayan" bridge in Moulmein township of Mon State, the civilians from Moulmein township had to pay at least 1,500-2,000 Kyat from each family. Similarly, whenever the SPDC implemented development projects in various parts of Mon State under the name of border area development program, such as constructing of hospitals and clinics, schools, bridges, motor roads and railway, the local civilians were always forced to contribute free labour or provide payments for these constructions.

 

 

Report

 

Atrocity, Kidnapping and Cash Extortion by SPDC Troops in Ye and Yebyu Area Continue

 

 

Civil War, Ceasefire and Suffering of Local Inhabitants

Since the beginning of 1998, until 1999, a Mon armed group, which has no real political name and objectives, just to protect their areas, have been active in many parts of Ye and Yebyu townships area. Geographically, these townships area is at the border area of Mon State and Tenasserim Division and many local inhabitants are making a living as rice cultivation farmers, fruit planting gardeners, day labourers and fishermen.

 

Soon after SLORC came into power when it invited foreign companies especially from ASEAN countries to exploit ethnic area's national resources, such as sea products and forest products including logs, it had increased the offensive measures against the ethnic rebel groups. The ethnic local inhabitants were always accused as sympathizers or supporters of the identical ethnic armed group by government troops. Due to this allegation, the ethnic people were forced to move from their native places, arrested to be civilian porters in frontline, to contribute free labour in military base constructions. Later on, after the regime decided to exploit natural gas in Andaman Sea by cooperating with most western oil and gas companies, it sent more troops and put more pressure to ethnic armed groups to enter into ceasefire talks and accept the agreement that has no guarantee to solve political problems. During SLORC intensifying pressure on a main Mon armed group, NMSP, and planned to install the foreign companies' enterprise in Tenasserim Division coastal area, the Mon, Karen and Tavoyan local inhabitants have serious suffered from the various types of human rights violation by the government troops. The violations such as forced relocation and dislocation, conscription of forced labour for civilian porters and labourers in constructions, tax extortion and looting, and arbitrary killings and arrests with accusation of rebel-supporters, have been largely committed. To lessen these abuses, so NMSP entered ceasefire talks and agreed for it in June, 1995.

 

After NMSP-SLORC ceasefire, under the name of "border area development program" the villagers have been continuously suffered from constant and large use of forced labour. The regime has more control on people and NMSP and its military faction, MNLA, had to move more deep frontier area and could not provide much protection like the period while it was fighting against the government.

 

Consequently, a Mon armed group, has risen up and operated military fighting against the government troops and they were also given name as "robber group" by government troops. Because of this new armed rebellion, the villagers have been re-suffered from various types of inhumane treatments with accusation they are supporters of that armed group.

 

Our human rights workers have collected the information about the suffering of local villagers since the group began their armed fighting and the followings are the accounts that came from the period of last quarter of 1998 and first quarter of 1999. The previous information of human rights abuses were already described in our previous reports.

 

Killing, detaining and torturing

 

On November 27, 1998, because of a robbery incident happened on Ye-Tavoy motor road, 8 villagers from Kywe-talin village, Yebyu township of Tenasserim Division, were arrested by LIB No. 408, with allegation that they cooperated with robbers. On November 26, when three passenger highway ferries came from Ye, the ferries were stopped by a group of robbers with guns and were robbed by them. Because of this incident, 8 farmers who were working near the incident place were arrested and tortured by Burmese Army's LIB No. 408. Two villagers died after severe torturing and one villager severely pained with inner injury. From another five villagers, only one villager was released after he paid ransom and the remaining four villagers were detained.

 

After robbery incident, the nearest soldiers from LIB No. 408, which was taking security for motor road, came to incident place and went around rice-fields and fruit plantation nearby. That month, November, was the harvest time, and so nearly all men were in their work-places to complete reaping their crops. Some villagers fled after they knew the soldiers tried to arrest them, and so only 8 villagers were arrested.

 

The arrested villagers were brought by soldiers to an army outpost on the motor road and they were interrogated whether they have connection with robber group and participated in robbery. During interrogation, the soldiers used various kinds of torturing to villagers. The soldiers tied up the hands of villagers and hanged up in the trees. And they asked various questions that connected to robbery and forced the villagers to admit they were involving in robbery.

Whenever the villagers refused they did not involve or when they cried because tight ropes tied up in their hands, they were severely beaten by soldiers. They were beaten by sticks, gun-butts and tree-branches in the whole of their bodies.

 

Among the villagers, a father and a son, Nai Bya (65 years) and Nai Maung Shwe (38 years) were severely tortured, because of they were accused that one of their relatives was in the robber group according to LIB No. 408 commander. The soldiers unceasingly beat and hit these two villagers and questioned how they gave support to their relative to get into the motor road to rob the highway ferries. Two men refused that their relative left from village for a long time but did not have contact and know what he was doing. Whenever they refused they were inhumanely tortured. Because of several hours torturing to those men, both of them lost consciousness as a result, and then the Soldiers immediately brought them to Kanbauk village, where their headquarters based. At the end, the two men died of torturing in LIB No. 408's Kanbauk military detention.

 

Similarly, Nai Ba Khin (a) Nai Bwee (50 years) was also severely beaten while the soldiers asked him many questions about robber group. When he said he

did not know about robbers, he was severely beaten and hit by soldiers. Then the soldiers took a round bamboo stick and rolled all through of his stomach. At the end, he also lost consciousness and got severe injuries in his stomach. Then his family asked the soldiers to bring him to hospital. Then, they brought him to Moulmein public hospital. According medical workers in Moulmein hospital, his main intestine was perforated. Because of proper treatment in hospital, he luckily did not die but had to receive medical treatment in for nearly two months and paid a lot of expenses. The battalion did not take any responsibility to treat the patient or paid treatment costs.

 

Among the remaining five villagers, Nai Par Dot (45 years old) paid a ransom of 20,000 Kyat to battalion and then he was released. Although he was released because of his serious injuries in his hands because of tight ropes, he had to treat his hands many days. Although the injuries were recovered, his hands were useless and he could not handle anything for many months and he had to treat with herbal medicines continuously.

 

The rest four villagers, Nai Kar Yi (59 years), Nai Din (45 years), Nai Phu (33 years) and Nai Zin (35 years), have been detained since they were arrested and they were not allowed to meet with their families. The soldiers brought them from one place to another. Until now (the end of April, 1999), their families have not heard any news whether the soldiers put their husbands or fathers to trials and imprisoned. However, the villagers in the area have confirmed that these villagers were honest and they were not participants or collaborators in the robbery incident.

 

 

Maltreatment or Punishment against Village Leaders in Rural Area

 

Besides the villagers who were arrested with accusation as rebel-supporters, the village headmen in the area, especially southern part of Ye township and many parts of Yebyu township, have been constantly suffered from maltreatment abused by SPDC troops, when they could not fulfill the duties that instructed by military commanders. After those village headmen could not fulfill the duties, they always faced at least verbal abuses, such as shooting and threatening to kill, by the commanders or they were beaten. Some village headmen abandoned their poses and fled from their native villages to escape ill-treatment by soldiers.

 

SPDC has launched military operation to offense from the attack made by Mon armed group in Ye and Yebyu area during 1998 and the beginning of 1999. The villager leaders in the area have to gather cash to feed SPDC soldiers whenever they went into their villages and in addition, have to provide porters for troops to carry ammunitions and food supplies. Thus, the village headmen in the area always have to arrange to gather cash and villager porters for troops as a common responsibility for them. The concerned battalion which has been active in the area also officially instructed the local village headmen to prepare and provide how many porters when they came into village and launched military patrol in the area.

 

 

1. Forced Disrobe a Monk for Village Headman

 

The SPDC troops always came to Kyonekanya village, Ye Township, in every two or three days in patrolling the area. Whenever the troops came into village, the headmen have to arrange to feed the soldiers with foods, liquors and cigarettes. The headmen have to manage providing 20 porters to the SPDC troops, who came into their village. Whenever the SPDC troops came into village, they required to use many villagers as porters to carry ammunitions and soldiers' food supplies. Thus, the headmen had to arrange 20 men on standby and stopped them to not go to their works, rice-farms or fruit plantations or sea. If they failed to manage according to instruction by commanders, they could face punishment.

 

In feeding the soldiers, the Kyonekanya village headmen had to spend about 20,000 Kyat in each round when over 60 troops stayed in the village. After the troops left from village, they walked around in village and collected cash from the villagers to cover the cost they paid for soldiers' foods. Hence, every household in Kyonekanya village have to pay about 500-1,000 Kyat to headmen to use it for foods that eaten by many troops who came into their villages. Later, after many villagers fled from village to escape maltreatment and such illegal tax extortion, it made the headmen too hard to collect cash from their poor villagers.

 

When the soldiers dissatisfied on the management of the headmen they were shout or even beaten or slapped. After Kyonekanya village headmen could not tolerate on regular requirement of SPDC troops, the village chairman also fled from village, while secretary entered into monkhood to escape the maltreatment in late September, 1998.

 

On October 19, 1998, when a column of Burmese troops from LIB No. 273 led by second-commander, Col. Maung Maung Than, arrived into Kyonekanya village, the commander did not meet any headman. He angered and asked the villagers where the headmen went. Then they knew that there was no village headman. They also inquired from the villagers and they knew the village secretary entered into monkhood. Then the commander went to monastery, forced the monk (former village secretary) to disrobe from monk and rule the village, especially to manage foods for them and porters for military operation.

 

 

2. Torturing Village Headmen

 

On September 2, 1998, when SPDC troops from LIB No. 273 went into Taw-bound village (also know as Mee-lin-taing), Ye Township, the village chairman and secretary were also ill-treated by soldiers for their failure to provide the required number of porters.

 

On a rotation basis, this village had to provide about 5 villager porters, although the village had only 30 households, whenever the SPDC arrived into their village. On that day, the headmen really managed five porters to stay at village on standby and bring them to secretary house. On the eve of the arrival of SPDC troops, one standby villager was sick and went back his home. When the troops arrived into village, they commander met only four villagers and angered to village headmen. Then, he ordered to beat two village headmen, chairman and secretary, and four porters. Therefore, those six villagers were severely beaten by soldiers.

 

Due to beating, village secretary, Nai Hla Pe (48 year) and a porter, Nai Win, were the most seriously injured among the group. The soldiers also broke a rib of village secretary. As a result, he had to treat at home nearly for one month and later he could not work some hard-works in his farms. Nai Win was treated at home, with village medic and he had to spend about 15,000 Kyat for medical treatment costs. The village chairman, Nai Aung (54 years) sold off his house and other belongings at cheap price and fled to other area to escape from further maltreatment.

 

On July 23, 1998, when some troops from LIB No. 273 brought food supplies for their military column which took base in a seacoast outpost, they were attacked by Mon troops led by Nai Sein on the half way. In the battle, they lost their foods and Mon troops also confiscated their foods. The attack was happened near Magyi and Khawza fishing villages. Following the attack, the Mon villagers in nearest villages were accused as rebel-supporters or bring rebels to fight, against the Burmese Army.

 

After attack, LIB No. 273 troops went into many nearer villages and inquired about the activities of Mon troops and also tortured the villagers and village headmen for their failure to inform about activities of Mon troops. While the soldiers were interrogating a village secretary of Khawza fishing village, Nai Dot (40 years), they used the most cruel maltreatment to him. They took a round bamboo stick and pressed and rolled on his stomach several rounds until he lost consciousness.

 

During he was losing consciousness, his family also asked the troop commander to bring him to hospital for medical treatment. But the commanders denied to send him to hospital. Later two days after the troops left from the village, his family brought him to hospital. He received medical treatment for nearly three weeks in Ye public hospital. According to health workers in hospital, he suffered from serious injuries in his intestines.

 

Because of the loss of food supplies in the fighting, the troops also asked compensated costs from the nearest three villages. Therefore, three Mon villages near the battle place, Magyi, Kyonekanya and Khawza fishing villages, were ordered to pay 10,000 Kyat respectively to the battalion. The commander said they needed to buy foods that they lost in the fighting, with that fund.

 


Kidnapping and Related Extortion from Villagers



1. Violations by Maj. Myo Lwin, LIB No. 106

 

During July to October, 1998, when a column of SPDC troops from LIB No. 106, which headquarters is situating in Tamorkanm village, northern Ye town, took base in Khawza village, its commander, Maj. Myo Lwin extorted various kind of ransom from villagers. The following are the villagers' records of he and his troops' activities how they conducted kidnapping, torturing and extorting cash from them during they were in Khawza village.

 

In July, 1998, Maj. Myo Lwin called a meeting with all lumber mill owners in village tract and forced them to make wood planks to use it in building a bridge. The private lumber mill owners had to make 15 tons wood planks for him. He used only little amount of planks in building bridge, but sold off to get cash for his own. He also asked all mill owners to pay him a ransom of 20,000 Kyat each as a tax of their mill. If someone failed to pay, he would close down the mill and took all planks in the mill. Thus, all mill owners in the village tract came and paid ransom of 20,000 Kyat for each. Similarly, he also took 5, 000 Kyat from each video theater as a tax and also forced video owners in the area to show their video in their military camp for two nights in one round on a rotation basis.

 

On October 22, 1998, when a farmer from Khawza village, Nai Shein (35 years) came back from his rice-farm, with two oxen and three cows, he was arrested by the troops of LIB No. 106. He was accused by commander that he bought these cattle unofficially and threatened to take all cattle. The commander forced him to show the agreement letter of purchasing the cattle. Although he explained that the oxen and cows were his own, they did not trust him and continuously accused that he has stole the cattle. Because of his complaint, the soldiers beat him seriously.

 

At night time about 11:00 p.m., the soldiers brought him to his home and told his wife that she must give a ransom of 100, 000 Kyat to get him return home. If not, they said they will bring him to frontline to use him as civilian porter. They added that was the punishment for his guilty of illegal purchasing of cattle. Thus, his wife worried for her husband being used as a porter in frontline and the further troubles and ill-treatments, she urgently found 80, 000 Kyat cash and paid to commander as a ransom. Then the soldiers released the farmer. But the commander did not give him the cattle back and he additionally asked the farmer to pay another ransom of 150, 000 Kyat to get his cattle back. Then the farmer and his wife found another 100, 000 Kyat and paid them as another ransom to get their cattle back.

 

 

2. Violations by Maj. Maung Maung Lay, LIB No. 273

Although military headquarters of LIB No. 273 is situating in Yebyu township, because of activities and attacks operated by a Mon armed group, this battalion's military columns were given responsibility to suppress the activities of that group. On the other hand, the main responsibility of this battalion is to safeguard the TOTAL company's gas-pipeline site in Kanbauk area and so it had main duty to prevent attack from the rebel group.

 

While some military column have been active on the seacoast to collect various kind of tax from fishing boats, some troops were sent to launch military patrol to prevent the possible approach that could make by rebel groups. Military columns have always changed each other in every three months on a rotation basis by battalion commander or tactical commander.

 

During from December, 1998, to February, 1999 a military column from LIB No. 273, led by Maung Maung Lay arrived to villages in Ye southern part area After IB No. 106 moved out from Khawza village, LIB No. 273 came in and took base in the village again Therefore, the villagers have been constantly suffered from another maltreatment and related tax extortion by military column and its commander again.

 

On December 24, 1998, the troops entered into Khawza village in the evening and ordered the villager headmen to announce to villagers that the soldiers will not allow any villagers to stay outside of village or in the farms. Thus, the village headmen went round the village and announced the order issued by commander and told to villagers to call their family members in the farms to come back to village soon. Many villager; went to farms and brought their family members back to homes. And the commander also added that the soldiers will not allow any villager to move out of their homes at night time.

 

At night time, about 10 o'clock, while the troops launched military operation around the rice-farms outside of village, where were far about 2 kilometers surrounding the village, they also met three farmers staying in a farm-hut and arrested them. These farmers were accused as rebel-supporters of Mon armed group and tied up with ropes and were brought into Khawza village. These farmers were not Khawza villagers and they came from Yinye village to work farming in that area. In the afternoon when the commander ordered village headmen to make an announcement to halt villagers to not stay in farms, they were not informed by villagers because they have no families in Khawza village. These arrested farmers were, Nai Tun (55 years), Nai Wai (33 years) and Nai Ngaing (24 years).

 

After they arrived in Khawza village, the village headmen were asked whether the men were their villagers. When the headmen said no, the accusation against the farmers as rebel-supporters was more deeper and they were inhumanely beaten, kicked and tortured by soldiers. The soldiers investigated and asked questions about activities of Mon armed force and when the villagers could not tell, they were severely tortured. Wherever they refused they had no contact with rebels or they did not know them, they were severely beaten to admit.

 

Some Khawza villagers knew these three villagers and informed their families in Yinye village about their arrest by Burmese soldiers. So, their wives and a senior monk came and appealed the commander to release the three men because they were ordinary villagers. The commander said he would not release the men until their wives could give him about 100, 000 Kyat for each person as ransom. Thus, all their wives went back to home to find ransom for commander to release the men. After three of their wives collected about 200, 000 Kyat cash and paid to commander to release the men, the commander refused and replied he needed a full amount of payment as he instructed. Then, the women went back to their village again and sold nearly all of their belongings to get full amount of cash that asked by commander. After they paid 300, 000 Kyat to commander he released three men immediately.

 

On December 25, 1998, when the Burmese troops waited for entering of rebel troops at the entrance of Khawza village, they also arrested a young man who was riding bi-cycles to go another village. The arrested man was Nai Hale (22 years) and he was accused that he would go to rebel base and informed the Burmese troops' activities to rebels. Then he was detained for one day and after his family gave 3,000 Kyat cash for foods of soldiers and additional appeal by village headmen, he was released.

 

Similarly, in the second week of January, 1999, the soldiers also arrested Nai Soe Aung, with accusation of rebel-supporters. On that day, the soldiers from the base also walked around in the village and met a young man who wore trousers also stood in front of Nai Soe Aung's house and talked with another villager. The soldiers also saw the young man entered into Nai Soe Aung house. The soldiers went back to base and informed about a young man to their commander. Then, the commander ordered their troops to round Nai Soe Aung's house and searched for the young man. When the soldiers rounded Nai Soe Aung's house, the young man who was his nephew, already left from his house. When they searched his whole house, they could not catch the man. So they accused Nai Soe Aung that he was keeping a rebel in his house. He did not understand the accusation and denied it that he said he never kept any rebel. The soldiers angered to him and beat him severely and said they met a young man with trouser entered his house. Although he explained to soldiers that that man was his nephew, but they did not trust and continuously beat him.

 

Then, the soldiers brought him to outside of the village and beat him to admit he was keeping a rebel. He was tortured with various type of beating and kicking by soldiers. When his family came and asked to meet him, they did not allow even his wife to meet each other. Later two days, when his wife paid 20,000 Kyat ransom and showed the young man (actually that man was his nephew), who was attending high school in Ye town, they trusted and then released him.

 

 

3. Torturing and Related Extortion by IB No. 61

 

On August 1, 1998, when a villager from Khawza village, Nai Sein Yin (35 years), traveled to Paukpigwin village, with a purpose to buy an oxen, he also brought 80,000 Kyat worth together with him. On the half way to Paukpingwin, unluckily he met with SPDC troops from IB No. 61, which launched military patrol in the area to attack the Mon troops. Soon the soldiers met him, they searched his whole body and met a lot of cash together with him. So he was accused that he sent fund for Mon troops in the area. Although he explained he went to Paukpingwin village to buy oxen, they did not believe him. They also took all cash that belonged to him.

 

Following the consistent accusation that he traveled to provide fund for Mon troops, he was tied up with a rope and brought to battalion headquarters in Ye. In the detention center of battalion headquarters, he was severely tortured. The soldiers beat and kicked him to admit that he sent fund for Mon troops. They tortured him until he lost consciousness.

 

Soon after his wife heard about arrest of him and bringing to Ye, she and village headmen went to Ye. When they met with battalion commander, they also explained the man was not a person according to accusation as rebel-supporter and approved he was an honest villager. At the end, the commander told them to pay a ransom of 60,000 Kyat for his release. His wife went back to village and tried to get 60,000 Kyat. After his family could not effort to pay 60,000 Kyat and paid 30,000 Kyat to commander. Then the commander released him after receiving a ransom. However, the commander said he must not allow to receive medical treatment in Ye. If they took medical treatment in Ye, he worried the news about IB No. 61 extortion and torturing will separate. Therefore, village headmen and family brought the farmer back to home in village and had to treat his injuries with herbal medicines.

 

 

4. New Kind of Tax Collection after Fighting by Various SPDC troops

 

On October 19, 1998, a fighting between SPDC navy and Mon troops happened in the sea in the •west side of Magyi village. In the incident, a small boat that brought Mon troops was attacked by LIB No. 402 and some Mon soldiers died in the fighting. In this case, the local fishermen were accused that they were supporters of Mon troops and carefully checked to fishing boats and fishermen who went to the sea.

 

Following the fighting, there was more SPDC troops deployment in coastal area and checked every fisherman who went to the sea. First, LIB No. 402 and LIB No. 106 jointly ordered to every fishing boat to buy a special signboard to put beside the boat to recognize them well. They also wrote the name of the

boat in signboard and put along with boat. If one boat has no signboard or the signboard was different from the one they issued, the navy must shoot to that boat. The battalions sold off signboard with price 2,000 Kyat per one. Although a small wood sheet was too expensive, the poor fishermen have to buy it because they were afraid of being shot by navy troops. There were over 500 small and big boats had to buy signboards from battalions and so LIB No. 106 and No. 402 received a lot of fund from fishermen. The fishing boats in many villages, such as Magyi, Mitawhla-kalay, Mitawhla-gyi, Kyonekanya, Taw-bound, Kyauk-ie, Kabyawa, Khawza fishing, had to buy the signboards.

 

Later, although they received signboard that recognized their fishing boats, whenever fishermen went to sea they must ask permission from the concerned headmen. Village headmen have to write an approval letter that fishermen were their villagers and honest. When the fishermen asked this letter, they paid 20, 30, 50 Kyat per sheet respectively to village headmen depending on the size of the boat. Accordingly to village headmen, that collected fund would be used when SPDC troops came into their villages, to provide them foods, liquors, and other demanded supplies.

 

On the other hand, every fishing boat had to handle "the boat registered book" along with them and every time they went to the sea, after they received approval letters from village headmen, they had to go to the battalions that bases along the seacoast. The commanders recorded in the book what time and which day they left to the sea. Every big or small boat, they got only three days permission to go to the sea for fishing. Depending on the sizes of the boats, the fishermen had to pay 200 to 500 Kyat per trip. After three days period fishing when they returned to the shore, they would have to inform the battalion again they already arrived back. In addition, the troops asked the biggest fish from every boat for their foods. Normally, the biggest fish might cost about 1,000 Kyat. Sometimes, when the higher military officers came, they asked more fishes from the boats.

 

Because of the new tax collection instructed, the battalions that took security along seacoast and in the sea, such as LIB No. 402, No. 106 and No. 273 received a lot of payment from the poor fishermen. Some fishermen also stopped and changed their works due to regular and high tax collected by SPDC troops.

 

 

Results

 

Due to arbitrary arrest and killing in the rural area, the farmers or the villagers are very afraid of being working in their work-places which are far from outside of the villages. Similarly, whenever the fighting in the surrounding area, the villagers in the villages do not dare to go outside of their villages and or, if some are in the rice-farms and fruit plantations, they immediately run back to the villages. If not, they could be as a result arrested by soldiers and faced ill-treatments by SPDC soldiers. As villagers' experience, the arrested villagers have been always forced to show the rebel bases, to admit they are having contacts with rebels and at the end, they must be tortured until die.

 

If the villagers are kidnapped related to accusation of rebel-supporters, they must be cruelly beaten by soldiers anyhow. Then the commander will ask for a ransom to release those villagers. When one villager was kidnapped and to get him release, the family have to sell several things that they belonged, such as rice-farmlands, fruit plantations, live-stocks, houses and others. Immediately that family become poor and jobless. If their relatives helped those families until they can stand on their feet, it was better for them to remain in villages. If not, they may have to move from their villages and seek jobs in another village, or move into Thailand or move into NMSP control area for seeking haven and finding jobs.

 

Due to unstable situation and irregular working in the workplaces, the villagers have also lost their crops in farms or plantations. During rainy season, when they started rice cultivation in July and August, if they could not have chance to clear grasses in the rice-fields, the rice plants became too weak due to grasses getting higher than them and the crop production are also reduced. During harvest season in November and December, if the

farmers lost chance to reap their rice crops in the farms, that is also another reason for the reduction of crop production.

 

Due to regular tax payment including portering fees and other extortion to SPDC troops, the villagers are hardly to pay. They have to sell their crops or other belongings to pay tax for army. Additionally, because of permanent requirement of civilian porters for army, the villagers have to abandon their works and also lose income or crops. Therefore, the general economic situation in the rural area of Ye and Yebyu township has been deteriorated for many years and local inhabitants are always suffered from various type of atrocities violated by government troops.