The Mon Forum


News, personal accounts, reports & analysis on the human rights situation in Mon territory and other areas of the Southern part of
Burma

 

June 30, 2001

Issue No. 6/2001

 

Publication of the Human Rights Foundation of Monland

 

CONTENTS

 

Report:

 

Collective Human Rights Violations in Kawkareik Township, Karen State

 

News:

 

(1) IB No. 61 and LIB No. 299 used villagers as porters during a military operation

 

(2) More migrant workers move into Thailand after Sonkharam festival

 

 

REPORT

 

 

Collective Human Rights Violations

in Kawkareik Township, Karen State

I. Background of Kawkareik Township

Kawkareik township is situated in the middle part of Karen State, Southern part of Burma and a main river called “Gyaing” passes western part of Township area and flows into Andaman Sea near Moulmein, the capital of Mon State.   The main local inhabitants in this township area is Mon and Karen ethnic people, who have stayed in harmony and most of them are farmers, who relied on the paddy cultivation as traditional work for several years.   Some very little number of local inhabitants also involved in fishing works, and some paddy growing farmers also do fishing works to have more income as well. 

In this township area, there are about 20 village tracts and each tract comprises about 4 to 7 small, middle and big villages.   There are about 60 villages totally in the Township area.   Mon villages are situated along “Gyaing River” in western part of Township area and most Karen villages are situated in eastern part of Township area.   However, under the rule of SPDC, both Karen and Mon local inhabitants in the area have been constantly and equally suffered from the abuses committed by SPDC Township and Village authorities and army and local military battalions.

In this Township area, as the rebel troops from KNLA have been active, SPDC and the Burmese Army deployed more their troops in township area.   Therefore, whenever the army arrived into their area, the local civilians in the area have always suffered from the various types of abuses by the army members.  

In the general policy of the SPDC regime, the local paddy-growing farmers have constantly suffered from forced buying of paddy that set up by the authorities.   They have to sell their paddy at low price in SPDC’s Township paddy buying centers.   On the other hand, as the regime, Karen State PDC authorities, could not provide the required amounts of money for total expenses in Township administration and to their local military battalions, the local civilians have been constantly suffered to provide various types of tax or fund to the authorities every month.  

Additionally, the local civilians are also suffered from the conscription of forced labour instructed by local authorities or military battalions that base in Township area.   Normally, the authorities ordered the civilians to participate in taking security in the area, which created the conscription of forced labour.   LIB No. 545 and No. 546 base in this Township area, the villagers are also suffered from the conscription of forced labour from these two battalions in the battalions’ paddy fields and rubber plantations.  

On the other hand, to grip on their power and security in the area, SPDC local authorities also ordered the local village tract or village leaders to cooperate with them.   They need to inform the nearest SPDC army battalions or the local authorities about the activities of rebel activities including ceasefire groups’ activities.  

The data collected from this township that covers about two years period have been described as below in details.  

 

II. Abuses against Farmers

Like many farmers in the whole country, the military regime, SPDC’s Township authorities have forced the local farmers to sell their paddy at low price to paddy buying center in the Township area.   As a main connection to get available amounts of paddy, SPDC had forced farmers in Kawkareik Township area to grow two seasonal crops, although the local farmers have worked only one season paddy growing system as a tradition.   Two seasonal crops means the farmers have to grow paddy not only in rainy season, but also they were forced to grow even after rainy season.   The authorities instructed the local village headmen that to have more paddy production in the area, the farmers whose farms are near the river must have to grow paddy after harvest from rainy seasonal crops.   However the authorities have not provided any assistance to those farmers.  

Normally, the farmers are growing their paddy only in the rainy season naturally after they get rainwater.   When the authorities instructed to grow paddy even after rainy season that is called dry season paddy crop, although they have unavailable resources, however they have to follow according to the order of the authorities. Traditionally, the farmers in this area have grown only one (rainy) seasonal paddy crop during rainy season and normally they grow some chili, peanut and vegetables after harvest.

In this township area, there area about 41,400 acres of land totally which can be grown paddy in rainy season with rainwater and the authorities have the lists of all farmers and the lands they own.   Among these farmers, they ordered the farmers whose lands are close to “Gyaing” river or other streams to grow paddy after rainy seasonal crop, as dry seasonal paddy crop.   This dry seasonal paddy crop need to be cultivated in November (in cold season of Burma) and could harvest in February.  

Among the total 41, 400 acres of land in Township area, the authorities have selected only some 8000 acres of lands that close to river or streams to plan growing dry seasonal paddy crop.   When the authorities instructed to village headmen to start growing dry seasonal crop, they also give the names of farmers and the location of the farmlands as an order also needed to grow.  

The authorities also adopted a concrete plan how to force the local farmers to grow dry seasonal paddy crop.   To grow dry seasonal paddy crop in November 2000, they planned in forcing farmers since February 2000.   Before that the authorities made lists of farmers and lands that could be grown crop and then also estimated the amount of paddy crop that the farmers needed to produce in harvest season.   They also ordered the respective village headmen to send the list of farmers to them before hand.   Then, they again ordered the headmen to give pressure against farmers to give promise and to actually grow dry seasonal paddy crop. 

Additionally, the authorities also inquired about equipment, facilities and other materials in the area where they forced the farmers to grow dry seasonal crop.   They inquired how many water pumps equipped with generators, land ploughing machine and the required amount of fertilizers for these lands.   Although the authorities collected these information, they actually could not support any materials to farmers.   Even some farmers said, they have received some factory-produced fertilizers from Rangoon to sell to farmers at low price, but they sold all of them to private shops in town.   Then, the farmers have to buy fertilizers from these shops at high price.   Although the farmers have not satisfied the corruption of the authorities, but they have no place to complain about it.  

In the program of cultivation of this dry seasonal crop, some parts of farmers from 20 villages, of 5 Mon village tracts are forced to follow the authorities’ order.  

As an instance,

“In an order in May 2000, the Township PDC authorities instructed the village headmen from five village tracts, Mikhalo, Kanni, Kaw-lyan, Karit, and Karit-kyaukphar, that the farmers must cultivate dry seasonal paddy crop in 717 acres of land to produce 75 baskets of paddy per acre, in 5296 acres of land to produce 50 baskets of paddy per acre and in 2020 acres of land to produce 36 baskets of paddy per acre respectively.   Thus, the farmers in these village tracts are forced to grow paddy in 8006 acres of lands totally and the authorities also estimated and instructed to farmers how many baskets of paddy they must have to produce.”

In this case, the authorities know just to give order to farmers but not assistance.   The farmers who have to follow the instructions of the authorities have to manage by themselves in all processes of cultivation.   They have to rent water pumps equipped generators to get water from the river and pour into their farms.   They have to plough the lands and rent ploughing machines and other equipment.   Additionally, to get crop products accordingly to authorities’ instruction, the farmers needed to put a lot of fertilizers in their lands.   So, they have to buy a lot of fertilizers in private shops in town at high price.  

Why the authorities have forced to grow paddy in dry season in which the farmers have to spend a lot of money to invest in cultivation?   Accordingly to their plan, the authorities required to buy about 150, 000 baskets of paddy totally from local farmers and they would more from farmers who are ordered to grow two seasonal crops.  The paddy buying authorities pay only 300-350 Kyat per basket of paddy while the market price is about 800-1000 Kyat per basket.   The farmers are ordered to sell their paddy from 8 – 15 baskets of paddy per acre to the authorities’ set paddy buying centers.  

 

III. Conscription of forced labour

In Kawkareik Township area, as many military battalions such as IB No. 231, IB No. 201, LIB No.545 and LIB No. 546 are taking base, the local civilians in the area have been forced to work for army for various purposes.   When SPDC troops are operating military operations, the soldiers have conscripted the villagers in the area and use them as “civilian porters” to carry ammunitions and food supplies during operations.  

Under the “self-reliance” program of all army battalions, LIB No. 565 and LIB No. 566 in Township area have some lands (about 500 to 700 acres) to grow paddy and rubber trees.   As the army members are busy with their own military activities and have no skill in paddy cultivation and tree plantation, the soldiers have always forced the local villagers near their bases to work in their farms or in plantations on a rotation basis.

These two military battalions, LIB No. 545 and No. 546 have involved in cultivating in both “rainy seasonal” and “dry seasonal” paddy crops and they have forced the local civilians constantly in their paddy cultivation.  

As an instance,

“From December 10 to 23, 2000, LIB No. 546, which bases near Kyone-doe village, conscripted about 40 villagers every day from Kanni, Kaw-kyaik, Thayet-taw, Tadar-oo, Kaw-lyan and Kaw-khaike villages to reap the paddy in their paddy fields.   Similarly, From December 17 to 18, 2000, LIB No. 545 which bases in Kyone-doe area also conscripted 40 villagers everyday from the above mentioned villages and forced them to reap paddy in their paddy fields.”

In Kawkareik Township area, there is a big bridge that cross “Gyaing” river and the authorities have worried for the security of this bridge.   So that, they ordered the villagers nearby, to build fences that round the whole bridge every year in dry season.   Therefore the village headmen have to organize his villagers to cut bamboo and woods in forests, send them to bridge, fence the whole outside of the bridge and put sharp bamboo inside the fence.   This construction of the fence has purposes to prevent the rebel soldiers to not plant bombs in the bridge.  

In this case, the villagers have to cut many thousands of bamboo and bring to the designated place.   They, themselves, had to build the fence and plant the sharp bamboo inside the fence.   These works take a lot of time of the villagers.  

In an order on May 3, 1999, ordered by Township PDC authorities, the villagers from Kyone-doe, Kyone-doe-chaungphar, Daw-phar, Kyone-thaing, Kanni, Yepu-gyi, Mee-ga-lon, Kaw-lyan and Karit village tracts were suffered from this conscription of forced labour to build the fence round the bridge.   These villagers from the same village tracts have constantly forced to do the same work in 2000 and 2001 years.  

Besides the building of the fence round the “Gyaing” river bridge, the villagers from the above village tracts are forced to take security near the bridge.   The authorities forced the local villagers to build small huts near bridge and ordered every village nearby to go and stay in huts to take security of the bridge.

Additionally, like other area, to take security of the bridge and the roads from the attack of rebel troops, the authorities also ordered the local villagers to clear grasses, bushes and trees near the bridges, along the roads and along the river, to clearly see the route.   By clearing these materials, the authorities expect the rebel soldiers could not hide and it is possible for the security of the area.   Just recently, the authorities have still conscripted the villagers to do this type of work.  

“From May 25 till the end of May, the authorities conscripted about 80 Mon villagers every day from Kanni, Thayet-taw, Kaw-khaike, Kaw-lyan and Kaw-kyaik villages to clear bushes, grasses and small trees along Gyaing river and then near bridge for the security of the area.”

In this township, as the villagers are conscripted various types of works for army and authorities, they have less and less work to do their own works.   And, the people in the area have less and less income after they could not work full time in their work.  Sometimes, if they could not go and work their work-duties according to the order, they also have to pay fine, about 500 Kyat per day.  

 

IV. Taxation in Township Area

In Kawkareik Township, like other townships in Karen State and Mon State, southern part of Burma, Township PDC authorities and army battalions have collected various types of tax from the civilians to serve for various expenses in Township area.   In collecting tax from the civilians, authorities just involve in ordering the local village headmen to bring fund for them. 

The purposes of collecting in Township area normally occurred after the Rangoon military regime, SPDC, could not provide enough funds or allocate budgets to their local administration body to operate various administration activities in Township area.   General Administration Department under the Ministry of Home Affairs in Rangoon just ordered the local Township authorities that create self-reliance program, or seek their own budget for their administration.   Then, the concerned Township office of PDC Chairman again ordered the various administration departments in Township to seek budget for the own department.  

In case, the departments or all ranks of Township PDC authorities tried to find the way that they could raise money.   They tried to invent the ways that they could get money from the civilians. 

For example, Township's General Administration Office itself published a calendar and forced the local civilians to buy that calendar whether they have desire to buy it or not.   In an order that Administration Office sent to a small village on the river bank of "Gyaing" river, it mentioned that it sent 350 sheets of calendar with village headmen and so, the headmen have to take responsibility to bring 70, 000 Kyat for calendar.   Actually, the village has about 200 households and so the villagers extra sheets of calendar.  However, the headmen could not return the extra sheets of calendar to authorities, but have to bring the exact amount of money to them.   Thus, the headmen had to manage collecting fund 500 Kyat from every household to give the authorities.  

Not only the local civilians are forced to provide fund for administration purpose, they also have to pay for the construction or repairing of the building that owned by the Township authorities.   Normally, the authorities held monthly meeting and invited all village headmen to attend the meeting.   The authorities also requested fund from the village headmen to pay for what purposes.   The authorities also requested fund for the construction or repairing of buildings.  

In an order given by authorities to village headmen in one Mon village in May 2000, it mentioned that when the village headmen went for meeting at the end of May, to listen from the authorities about the political, economic and social situation in Township and in the whole country, the authorities also instructed the village headmen to bring 4000 Kyat together with them to provide in buying thatches for the roof of supply building in Kawkareik town.  

Like this case, depending on the village population and household number in the village, the demands for fund are different.   Sometimes, for the large amount of fund for the building or construction, the authorities required up to 100, 000 Kyat from one village. 

In levying tax or fund from the civilians, sometimes not only the higher authorities have asked the fund, but even a soldier or a policeman has opportunity to ask fund from the civilians.   Sometimes, when a group of soldiers or policemen are taking responsibility for security in the bases near villages, they could demand fund from these villages, as they liked.  

As an instance,

“With an order dated on June 23, 2000, a policeman who base in Kha-rit village ordered all lumber mill owners from 5 Mon villages, Kawkator, Mon-hlaing, Kyaikabin, kyauk-ye-twin, and Nwar-chan-gon, nearby to meet him at police base.   When about 10 mill owners met with him, he asked about 5, 000 Kyat from each owner.”

When the authorities planned for celebrating the important occasions or State important days, they always collected fund from the civilians by ordering the respective town ward leaders or village headmen to provide for fund.   As an example, on January 14, 2000, when the authorities planned to send a group of dancers for dancing competitions for Union Day in February, the authorities demanded about 5000 Kyat from every village.   Thus, the headmen from every village and town ward in the township have to collect fund and send to the authorities as quick as possible.  

Additionally, the authorities have also collected fund from local truck and boat drivers who provide travel service in Township area.   In this township, as "Gyaing" river is flowing through the area, the people in the area have relied on water way mostly.   Many local civilians in town and village made or bought boats, equipped with small Horse Power engine propellers, and provide transport and travel service along the river.   Thus, the authorities in the Township have opportunities to collect funds from the boat owners or drivers. 

As an instance,

"On July 7, 2000, at the beginning of rainy season, the authorities and army commander from Kyone-doe village ordered all boat owners, who equipped with engine propellers, to come and meet them.   In the meeting, the authorities said, to get permission or license to use the boats along "Gyaing" river, the boat owners or drivers must have to pay about 5, 000 - 10, 000 Kyat depending on the sides of their boats and the HP power of the engine propellers.   The authorities went around 11 Mon villages along Gyaing river and collected tax from them and issued the permission and they received about 1 million Kyat totally from these villages' boat owners."

According to the local boat drivers in the area, besides they have to pay for permission or license to use their boats in river, sometimes, they have to pay some regular fund to the nearest police stations or army battalions.  Besides the cost for license, they also have to pay about 5000 Kyat per month.  

Besides the civilians are providing fund for various purposes, they also have to provide support or finance to the local army battalions such as LIB No. 545 and No. 546 for various purposes.   As a purpose, under the fund raising program, the civilians from every village had to provide fund to the authorities and army battalions with 2000 Kyat per village in July.   The authorities and army required this fund to buy rubber and other plants to grow in their gardens.   Sometimes, the authorities tried to collect fund for army. 

As an instance,

"In an order dated on September 10, 2000, Township authorities ordered to about 10 village headmen in Township to provide 200, 000 Kyat totally for the cost of the roof of military barracks of a Tactical Command, that bases in Kyone-doe village which is on the Gyaing river bank."

"In that order, the authorities defined which village has to pay how much money each.   According to order, the authorities requested 56, 000 Kyat from Kanni village tract; 20, 000 Kyat from Daw-phar village tract; 20, 000 Kyat from Kaw-pa-lae village tract; 15, 000 Kyat from Mae-ga-lon village tract, 22, 000 Kyat from Yebyu-gyi village tract; 22, 000 Kyat from Kyone-ai village tract; 13, 000 Kyat from Chaung-phar village tract; 52, 000 Kyat from Kharit-kyauktan village tract; and 13, 000 Kyat from Kaw-lyan village tract and 7, 000 Kyat from Inn-kyi village tract."

In the situation, which both SPDC authorities and local army battalions have no available fund for spending in their activities and supporting the facilities that they required, the local authorities have full chance to collect tax or fund from the civilians.   As they have this authority, in most time, they involved in the corruption such as demanding more funds than required from the civilians and taking extra money into their pockets.  Normally, the civilians said, they have been likely supporting the wealth of Township authorities and army commanders. 

 

V. Other Restriction against the Civilians

In the Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) battalions, the soldiers have very little amount of salary to support their families and they have no time to work for their families because they are always ordered to participate in military operations.   In normal situation, although some high rank military officers, such as battalion commander, second-commander, troop company commander could find fund for their families in various ways of corruption including tax or fund collection from the civilians, ordinary soldiers and low-rank officers are impossible to have this type of fund or tax from the civilians because they have no authority.

For ordinary soldiers, even they do not have problems before they marriage, but after marriage, they have quite difficult situation to support their families.   Their wives and children also have to work to support survivals of the families.   Many marriage soldiers or low-rank officers, tried to resign or retire as soldiers, but they could not.   When they initially entered into Burmese Army and agreed to work, they were forced to sign a contract that giving promise they must serve in army for 10 years at least.   Without fulfilling this duty, they could not resign as tatmadaw members or Burmese soldiers.   As a result, many ordinary and low-rank army officers (especially from ordinary soldiers to sergeant in the battalion) escape or leave from the battalions if they have opportunity or after they have no choice.

The occurrance of these army escapees is quite common in rural areas, where the SPDC battalions are taking base.   Sometimes, when the army columns moved to border areas to launch offensives against rebel troops, some soldiers also defected to rebel armies, and left into Thailand or other neighbouring countries.   Then, they brought their families again.

In rural area, after their fleeing, the soldier escapees tried to hide or stayed in the village surrounding of their battalions, or they hid with their relatives.   Whenever, this case happens, the concerned military battalion always the escapee.   As these escapees violate the contract for army, they are likely breaking the laws.  

To prevent the conditions or stopping the soldiers from fleeing or hiding in the rural area, the local Burmese Army’s battalions always instructed the headmen in villages nearby to not accept the escaped soldiers in the villages.   Or, if they met some these soldier escapee in a village, the headmen needed to arrest the escapee and then, inform to the nearest military battalion.  If the village headmen failed to inform about the escapees or someone accepted in their houses, they must be punished. 

In August 2000, one army Sergeant from IB No. 231 that bases in Kawkareaik Township have escaped from the battalion and Township authorities informed the headmen in every village in Township with the following order.   The subject of the order was to arrest the escapee.  

“An army Sergeant of IB No. 231, Sgt. Nyunt Win (ID No. 604368) have disappeared since August 11, 2000, after squad weapon operating training and have not informed to the battalion until now.   So, he is disappearing without requesting permission from the battalion.  

“His parents are U Tin Aung and Daw Mya May, and their address is No. 1 Section, Chaung-taung village, and if he arrived back at home village, you need to arrest and inform to IB No. 231.  If he is staying or hiding in your village, you must need to arrest him and then inform to IB No. 231 as quick as possible.   If you are accepting him in village or fails to inform the army battalion, you must be taken action according to laws because you are providing shelters to soldier escapee.

“And, you also need to inform your villagers or civilians in your area that if they are providing shelter for soldier escapee, they must be taken actions according to the laws.”

In most situation, in rural area, when some soldiers escaped form a battalion, the concerned military commander informed Township authorities and then, the authorities put pressure the village headmen in most villages to arrest the escape and send to them.   For the soldiers who escape near border area, they could move to another side of the border and could hide in neighbouring countries. 

 

In Kawkareik Township, the whole area is not absolutely controlled by SPDC and its army battalions, although it had deployed many military bases.   Sometimes, some KNLA (Karen National Liberation Army) troops arrived to this area and operated military activities and fighting with SPDC troops also occurred.   On the other hand, the Mon ceasefire group, NMSP (New Mon State Party) and its army MNLA (Mon National Liberation Army) troops also launched military operations in the area and takes security for the Mon villages in the area.   NMSP, itself, has influence to Mon people and the people trust NMSP more than SPDC.  

NMSP officials also exercise administrative and judicial power in this area and they receive respects from the local community.   Thus, SPDC authorities have power only in Kawkareik town and they have lost their power in rural villages.   They dissatisfy for these situations and try to force the local village headmen to inform all situation development that happens in their villages and nearby.   However, most village headmen in the area would not like to inform to the authorities or failed to inform.   So, the authorities have sent many letters to local village headmen to inform about the development of the situation, especially, about the activities of NMSP, MNLA and KNLA troops in the area. 

At the end, with an order dated on July 3, 2000, the authorities have put more restrictions against village headmen as below:

“With the purpose concerning for the discussion of security, administration, economic and social matters that especially happened in your (town) ward/ village tract, we have asked many times to report.   However, the leaders from ward/ village have not reported about the special matters to Township, and we just know about these special matters from other organization’s sources.   So, for town ward and village tract, the leaders of Town ward must inform about the special happening in their ward within (1) hour after happening and each village chairman and member of village tract must come and inform to Township office as quick as possible.   If they failed to inform, they must be punished.  

“In the future, if the town ward or village tract leaders fail to inform and if we receive news about special happening from other sources again, we will punish the concerned leaders to resign from their posts and they must be punished accordingly to the laws.”

In this order, the special happening or matter is meant about the activity of any Mon or Karen rebel force.  Whenever this happens, they must inform to authorities as quick as possible.   So, they could know all situations.  As the authorities dissatisfied on the village leaders for their accepting NMSP authorities, they also ordered to inform about the activities of NMSP members.  In this order, other organization’s source meant that the surrendered rebel groups or the organizations that cooperate with regime know about NMSP, MNLA and KNLA activities and they have informed to Township authorities.   That was why the authorities knew these happenings that the town ward or village leaders fail to inform.  

Although SPDC has been agreeing for ceasefire with NMSP since 1995, actually, they would not like more NMSP influence to the people.   In Kawkareik Township, accordingly to ceasefire agreement between NMSP-SLORC/SPDC, one place near a Mon village, Kaw-bein, was recognized as a “permanent ceasefire zone”.   So, the NMSP authorities and MNLA troops are taking base there.  From that NMSP base, NMSP authorities have operated administration and jurisdiction power to Mon people in the surrounding area.  

Because of ceasefire agreement, Township PDC authorities have lost some of their power in the rural area as NMSP’s involvement in many administration and judicial activities.   However, Township authorities could not stop the activities of NMSP.   Thus, the authorities made more restriction against the local village headmen to not cooperate with NMSP or to stop their villagers to not accept NMSP administration.  

As an instance, in May 12, when NMSP authorities under the name of “NMSP Thaton District Administration Body” is planning to re-build their office and military barracks, the Township authorities also ordered the village headmen from village tracts nearby, such as, Kaw-bein, Kaw-pauk, Min-ywa, Kaw-go, Kha-rit and Kanni, to stop NMSP officials from re-building District Office and military camp.  

The subject of the order is “the matter of NMSP (Thaton District) construction of office and army barrack” and the details of the order is as below:

“1. As the subject mentioned above, NMSP (Thaton) is constructing its administration office and military barrack, in Kaw-pha-lone village, near Kaw-mi village in Kaw-bein village tract, so that we need the village headmen to stop this activity and report the situation how they could stop NMSP activity.   This order is referring the order from the order of Kawkareik District PDC authorities. 

“2. Concerning NMSP’s construction of Thaton District office and army battalion, you must exactly follow according to order point no. 1.   You must tell NMSP authorities that the construction must be done after they received official permission from Kawkareik District PDC authorities.”

In Kawkareik town, there are two offices of Kawkareik District PDC and Kawkareik Township PDC taking base and District office normally covers for the administration of four townships in Karen State including Kawkareik Township, according to the formation of SPDC administration.   In this case, Kawkareik District PDC authorities do not want the NMSP construction and ordered the Township PDC authorities to force village leaders to approach NMSP leaders and to stop the construction of Mon office and army barrack.

However, as the people are supporting NMSP or it is powerful in the area, most of them reported that they could not stop the activity of NMSP for the construction of administration office and army barracks.  

Township PDC authorities have restricted the headmen and civilians more to not accept the influence of NMSP.  Additionally, they also instructed the villagers in the rural areas to not support KNLA activities.  

 

VI. Conclusion

With a main purpose to against the activities of rebel armies, KNLA and MNLA troops, SLORC/SPDC deployed more troops in this area, under the command of Southeast Military Command, bases in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State.   At the same time, to compete with NMSP activities for administration and judicial, Township authorities have increased their control into rural Mon and Karen villages in the area. 

Before 1990, the people in the area had fewer burdens for tatmadaw and Township authorities because they had less control in the area.   Later, after SLORC deployed more troops and police force in some parts of Township, the Mon and Karen people in the area suffered more from conscription of forced labour in various types of works, porter for military operations, payment for Township’s various purposes and other mis-treatments.

On the other hand, since KNLA troops are launching military activities in the area, some Karen villagers are still suffered from the suspicion of rebel-supporters and the population displacement in the eastern part of Township still happens.  

 

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NEWS

 

IB No. 61 and LIB No. 299 used villagers as porters

During a military operation

(June 2001)

From 28th May to 6th June, when two military battalions of Burmese Army, IB No. 61 and LIB No. 299 changed their deployment in Three Pagoda Pass, a border town with Thailand, in southern part of Burma, the soldiers used about 40 villagers from Ye Township area as civilian porters during their operations, according to a source from Three Pagoda Pass.  

Before the operation started on 28th May, IB No. 61 battalion, which bases are in Ye Town, ordered the village headmen from 10 villages in northern part of township to provide 40 villagers to carry their ammunitions and food supplies for soldiers when they moved from Ye Town to Three Pagoda Pass town.   Thus, the village headmen in northern part of township area from Ah-por, Duya, Ann-din, Hnee-hnall, Ahsin, Zee-pu-taung and others had to provide 3 to 6 villagers depending on the number of households in the village.   Those villagers had to go IB No. 61 battalion GHQs in Ye and then IB No. 61’s 200 troops picked them up on 28th May and moved to Three Pagoda Pass by jungle way.  

The villagers were forced to carry ammunitions and food supplies for the troops along the military operations and it took them 4 days totally along the jungle way to arrive to border town.    They left on 28th May and arrived to Three Pagoda Pass on 1st June.   Along the road, they had to climb many high mountains by carrying heavy loads and passed into jungles along the road and slept for two nights on the way.  

After the troops arrived Three Pagoda Pass, IB No. 61 commanders transferred all porters to LIB No. 299 that required to move from border to its battalion GHQs in southern part of Ye Township.   The porters were put the battalion base and were not allowed to visit in town because the soldiers worried they would possibly flee.  

On 4th June, LIB No. 299 took these villager porters and forced them to carry ammunitions and food supplies for the soldiers and then left from the border town and moved to Ye Township along the same jungle way that IB No. 61 had used.   Similarly, the soldiers took the villagers for another four days in this porter service.   The troops arrived to their base on 7th June and released all porters without payment they have used them for several days.  

During the porter service along the jungle road, one porter from Ah-bor village was hit with a sharp bamboo and the soldiers left him behind.   The medic soldiers treated him with a little treatment and left him behind.  Then the Mon villagers nearly found him in jungle and brought him to village for further treatment.  

During the porter service, the porters were fed with little amount of foods that was equal to one meal of foods and forced them to carry the heavy loads for 8-10 hours per day.   Not only they were not fully fed, sometimes they were kicked by soldiers to walk quickly.  

Although all military battalions received order that the requisition of forced labour in any purposes including during the military operation from Ministry of Home Affairs, SPDC, most local battalions have not stopped using forced labour during the military offensives or operations because the soldiers themselves could not carry their own foods and ammunitions that required during operation.  

 

More migrant workers moved into Thailand

after Songkaram festival

(May, 2001)

After Songkaram new year festival in Burma, many thousands of migrant workers from Mon State, Pegu Division, Karen State and Tenasserim Division, or most part of southern part of Burma, have gradually moved into Thailand to seek jobs in there and send some income to their families left in Burma as a result of unemployment in Burma and economic mis-management by SPDC, according a source from Mon State.

Among the migrant workers that moved into Thailand, about 70% of them ever stayed and worked in Thailand in the recent years and decided to re-enter into Thailand again to have some of their former works and send their income back to Burma to their parents or families who are in hard economic conditions in Burma.   Normally, after paying respect to their parents in the new year occasion, most young people with age range from 15 to 40 years planned to enter into Thailand.   When now they went Thailand, some new members were also brought by former workers.  

In the period from third week of April until the end of May, there has been at least 300 migrants in average moved from Mon State to Three Pagoda Pass, a border town with Thailand every day.   This border town is locating in the northwest of Bangkok and is far about 400 kilometers.   When the migrants arrived to this town, they contacted the traffickers and paid to bring them to Bangkok or to Provinces that close to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.  

While these migrant workers migrated from their native home village or border town, they had to pass many checkpoints operated by all levels of SPDC authorities and they had to bribe all of them to get permission of the passage.   They had to pay about 500-1000 Kyat per head in every check-point they passed.   Normally, they had to pay to Military Intelligence (MI) officers, police and army members.   When they arrived in Three Pagoda Pass town, they had to pay another 500 Baht (Thai currency) to all authorities, including police, MI unit and army in town to have the latest permission to get moving from Burma to Thailand.  

When the worker moved to Thailand’s fishing and construction industries, they had to pay 5000 Baht to 8000 Baht to traffickers depending on the distance they needed to go.   Normally, Burmese migrants are placed to work in fishing industries or construction sites, in which low number of Thai workers agreed to work.   Most Thai fishing industries and companies give more attentions to get Burmese labourers because they had to pay low labour cost and not have to guarantee for the labour rights.   Additionally, they also do not have to negotiate for working hours with these illegal migrant workers and could use them as they liked. 

In Burma, due to mis-management in economy, many people are unemployed at their home villagers and township area, and on the other hand, the payment for their labour is quite low if compared with Thai companies’ paid labour cost.   Hence, most young people tried to go and work in Thailand.   Additionally, the government’s regular tax collection and conscription of forced labour, the civilians had less and less opportunities to do their own works and that is another reason most young people migrated into Thailand to seek works and helped their parents or families in native homes.