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


 

Issue No. 9/2001

September 30, 2001

 

The Publication of Human Rights Foundation of Monland (BURMA)

 


CONTENTS

 

News:

(1)     SPDC's land confiscation for naval base in Kalargote island, ye Township,

(2)     Kya Inn Seikyi township authorities forcibly bought paddy from farmers,

(3)     New military battalions collect fund in Ye Township,

 

Report:

SPDC attempts to grip in power and cycle of corruption in southern part of Burma.

 

 

SOME ACRONYMS IN THIS ISSUE

 

SPDC-     State Peace and Development Council,
SLORC-   State Law and Order Restoration Council,
BSPP-      Burmese Socialist Programme Party,
IB -          Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
LIB-         Light Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
MOC-      Military Operation Command (of Burmese Army)

NMSP-     New Mon State Party,
MNLA-    Nationality Unity Party,

USDA-     Union Solidarity and Development Association,
ILO-        International Labour Organization

 

 

NEWS

 

SPDC's land confiscation for naval base in Kalargote Island, Ye Township

 

(September 2001) After land confiscation by MOC. No. 19 to deploy their military battalions, on August 15, 2001, with objective to deploy Mawrawaddy naval base, SPDC's Southern Command that bases in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, confiscated about 300 acres of Mon civilian lands which was in Kalar-gote island, which is in Andaman Sea and west of Ye town. On that day, Ye township based military battalion, LIB No. 343 and a military command MOC No. 19, confiscated about 300 acres of lands owned by villagers from three villages in Island, namely, Upper Kalar-gote, Middle Kalar-gote and Lower Kalar-gote villages. The ci-vilians in this Island are mainly farmers who grow fruit trees in rich soil of Island and many other are fishermen to catch in Andaman Sea (Look in the map). Maj. Aye Thein from LIB No. 343 and Maj. Min Ko from artil-lery regiment of Mawrawaddy naval base involved in land confiscation and they said to land owners that as the State requirement for security to deployed army and navy forces, the lands are confiscated. No villagers could complain, as they knew if they complained they must be arrested. About 24 families of villagers will lose their valuable lands that grown with various types of fruit trees, such as coconut, betel-nut and others, according to the land confiscation program of the army.

 

A Mon fishing village in Te Township, Mon State


 

 

After land confiscation, the same commanders have forced all vil-lagers in three villages to clear bushes and small trees in new confiscated lands. On the next day, they forced another 50 villagers every day, that shared 20 villagers from Upper Kalar-gote village, 10 villagers from Middle Kalar-gote village and 20 villagers from Lower Kalar-gote village. The village headmen have to arrange on a rotation basis to send the required number of villagers to work-places. In work-places, the villagers are forced to clear grasses, bushes and small trees in where the army set to build the barracks. They have used 50 villagers until the middle of Sep-tember. Later they reduced to 20 villagers per day to do the remaining works in battalion or in confiscated lands.

 

At the moment, in September, the army started building their mili-tary barracks first in 5 villagers' owned lands. The army especially built military barracks, trenches, canals and helicop-ter landing place and others. Five families who owned these lands are: (1) Nai Min-Mi Than Ye; (2) Nai Shwe Tun-Mi Kyae; (3) Nai Gled-Mi Kyuu; (4) Nai Shwe-Mi Shwe Mi; and (5) Nai Kalar Htee-Mi Pyar Shin. These five families lost about 54.5 acres of plantation lands with betel-nut, Durian, Coconut fruit trees and rubber trees. The estimated cost for these lands is about 8. 6 million Kyat totally. 45 members of these families who arc relying on these lands lost both works and income. However, the army have not cut all valuable trees in lands, just cut in the space that they needed to build barracks and others.

 

 

Upper Island village
Middle Island villaae

Location map of Kalar-gote island in Ye Township, Mon State

 

Kya Inn Seikyi Township authorities forcibly bought paddy for farmers

(September, 2001)

 

With objective to provide food supplies to their military battalions in township area, Karen State's Kya Inn Seikyi Township authorities forced the farmers in rural villages to sell about 13000 baskets of paddy to them at low price since September 15, 2001, even the time was not harvest season. On that day, the authorities ordered the village headmen from Ta-gun-taing and Taung-dee villages and informed them that they must sell 8000 baskets and 5000 baskets of paddy respectively to Township's "Agricultural Product Trading" department or paddy-buying center, at low price, 350 Kyat per basket. The market price of paddy is about 800 Kyat per basket. In the normal situation, the authorities in this township buy paddy at low price, in the period from December to March after harvest by farmers. Now, as the authorities urgently needed food supplies for the military operations that have operated around the township area and some are deployed their troops, so that

 

A paddy-buying center in Mon State

 

they have forced the village farmers to sell their paddy at low price even the time is not harvest season. In Kya Inn Seikyi township, there are many battalions, which are taking bases and launching military battalions to prevent the activities of KNU ad-ministration and KNLAs military activities. The main military battalions in Township are: IB No. 31 that bases in Kya Inn Seikyi town; LIB No. 548 and No.549 that are deploying their troops in Pha-ya-nyote-to village; LIB No. 232 that bases in Taung-dee village; and other battalions, IB No. 106, LIB No. 299 and IB No. 109 that came from other areas and have launched military activities. Both military battalions base in Township and came from other areas have required food supplies and fund to operate their military activities. To pro-vide them with enough food supplies, Township authorities and regular army base, IB No. 31 have to take responsibility and so that they forced the local village farmers to sell their paddy at low price. The civilians in this area is not only suffered from to sell their paddy at low price, the battalions which both launch the military activities and deploy forces in various parts of township also used the civil-ians to be forced labourers in their works, porters for military offensives and extorted fund from the civilians.

 


New military battalions collect fund in Ye Township

 

After many military battalions under the command of MOC No. 19 in Ye Township, Mon State, these battalions have gathered some types of fund to spend for their own battalions and other requirements that supporting their military activities.

 

On August 15, when a new military battalion, LIB No. 586 that bases northern part of Ye town and close to town launched a military patrol and arrived into Kyone-por village, they found that a bridge is not strong enough for the passage of their army truck. Immediately, the battalion commanders called a meeting of headmen and demanded 500, 000 Kyat from the villagers to fix that bridge to be able for the passage of army truck. Thus leaders have to collect money from villagers and paid to battalion commander.

 

For the villagers who used this bridge passing through it by foots or oxen-carts do not have to rebuild it because it was still possible to use. However, when the army traveled with objective to launch patrol in the area, they found it could be dangerous for their trucks and that was why they ordered the head-men to collect money for them and they will rebuild it. Might be, the commander of that battalion would report to MOC No. 19 that they rebuild a bridge.

 

On August 13, another military battalion, LIB No. 591 under the command of MOC No. 19 also called a meeting with village headmen from Kan-hla, Kyaung-ywa and villages and the commanders de-manded them that these villages must provide them with 600, 000 Kyat to repair their army truck. Their reason was they have to take security of this area and will use army truck. The truck they received from higher military command was not strong enough to use in this area and that was why they tried to fix it again.

 

These purposes are not concerned to the local civilians, however, as the local military battalions do not have enough budgets to spend in their battalions' purposes, they tried to take money from the civilians like many other battalions in township area.

 

Since April, the main military command MOC No. 19 and its subordinate 6 military battalions con-fiscated nearly 1000 acres of lands to deploy their bases in this township. Because of this land confiscation, many village families from Tamort-kanin, Done-phee, San-pya, Aru-taung, Kun-duu, Son-htit-thar, Kyaung-ywa and Kan-hla villages lost their lands, which were grown with rubber, lime, betel-nut, orange and other fruit trees. Some families also lost their paddy growing farmlands. (Look in the Report of The Mon Forum, Issue No. 8/2001)

 

Soon after land confiscation, die villagers have been continuously conscripted as unpaid labourers to contribute their labour in many construction works related to the deployment of these military battalions. And, more and more military patrol have launched around the villages, the villagers also had to provide the battalions with foods and some fund required by them.

 

The more SPDC military battalions in one area, the more the villagers have been suffered to support the army with labour, money and foods.

 

 

 

REPORT

 

SPDC Attempts to Grip in Power and Cycles of Corruption in Southern Part of Burma

 

I. SPDC's Plan to Grip in Power

 

Even UN General Assembly put more attention on Burma and yearly adopts resolutions to seek genuine peace and solve the political problems by means of politics with a strategy of "tri-partite negotia-tion", but the regime in Burma, SPDC, constantly refused while other political forces accepted that resolu-tion.   UN and international community have constantly for the political negotiations which involve the current military regime, SPDC; the main democratic opposition party NLD and other democratic force; and non-Burman ethnic nationalities' force.

 

Currently although SPDC is arranged some "talks" with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, key leader of demo-cratic force, there has been no much improvement except SPDC have released some political prisoners, while many of them still remain in prisons.   At the same time, SPDC plans to re-convene the sham Na-tional Convention, which was boycotted by NLD and could not move forward for some years. Although talks have been arranged for many rounds, no sides have declared die results and no sign of power transfer or political change has occurred right now.   On the other hand, SPDC is still strengthening its power through its supporting group, such as Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), Nationalities Unity Party (NUP) and other government servants to be its supporters.   And, the regime still does not allow NLD to operate its party function freely and nationwide and at the same time, it grows its supporting political force by various methods.

 

In June, 2001, SPDC's Minister of Home Affairs hold its four months annual meeting for General Administration Department in Rangoon, he gave a long speech and reflected the policy of the regime on NLD, tripartite negotiation and international community, especially ILO, which recently investigate about requisition of forced labour in Burma.

 

 

A. Policy on NLD

 

His explanation against NLD or policy on it in his speech is as below:

 

“One political party (he referred to NLD), bad made a confrontation against the government in the past.   The leaders and the members of that party had activated as they thought they were representing the people, but later the people has not interesting on them and their objectives were useless.   Thus, they changed their policy of confrontation and adopted a new policy that was keeping good relationship to govern-ment. As we (SPDC) held administrative power and judicial power, we have prevented intensively against their activities that created unstable

Burma is wel-known as a signboard, that SPDC tried to
propagandize
its legitimacy

 

situation in the country. Now, as they changed their policy, we have also softened  our policy.   Even they have requested, for the existence of their party, we have allowed to put up their party's signboards again phase by phase by township to township.   When only the township (SPDC) officials received "instructions" for higher authorities (of Ministry of Home Affairs), Township authorities have to work for that party.  If not, we ordered, exactly that you must practice as before (or treat NLD members as before).  You should not misunderstand that when we allowed them to operate some of their activities in Tangoon (Rangoon), this did not mean we allowed them to do their activities again in the whole country.

 

That party has taken more opportunities that we allowed.   They have selected and replaced more executive committee members in their township office and complained they are allowed to conduct this activity because the headquarters of that party (NLD) allowed to operate like that.   In this case, all parties must have to follow the rules of election commission exactly.   Their aim still does not change as they expected for power transfer accordingly to the results of 1990 elections.   According to their aim, they still plan to call for the convention of (people) parliament.   But as they changed their tactics, now, they apply under the name of "meeting of people assembly" (to be low profile).   This is their new tactics to keep the number of their members from reduction and to keep the party's activities from losing.   Even we know their aim and activities, as we would like to solve the politics by means of politics, we have kept softening to them alike.   Thus, State/Township administrative officers must be careful in their works and cleverly to understand the situation.   If they don't know what to do for some case, they must have to ask their higher authorities.   In May Day, when they released an opinion statement, they mentioned they supported ILO in giving pressure against the government (SPDC).   Similarly in their election winning statement on May 27, they declared that they must go until they reach their destination. This described their inner mind.   So that, for our side, if they planned what they like, we must also go to reach to our destination.

 

This is the main excerpt of speech given by Minister that reflects SPDC's policy to NLD, the main opposition led by Nobel Peace Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.   According to this speech, they must now allow NLD freely to operate their activities and have restricted as much as they can.   Due to NLD's soften policy, they just soften their policy to NLD, but they have no exact plan to abandon power or share power with NLD.

 


 

B.  Policy on Ethnic Nationalitites

 

The SPDC has no desire to include ethnic nationalities to be a dialogue partner in tri-partite negotiation and the following excerpt of speeches reflect SPDC policy on ethnic nationality people and their political parties.

"...........outside (border based) opposition groups and radio broadcasting have always asked for the politicalnegotiation and the issue of the involvement of ethnic nationalities'' oppositions.   Concerning to this issue, when we met with UN people, we talked to them that the ethnic organizations have taken "peace" with the State not so long and they have worked for the development and economic activities and so, this have not take a strong root in their area and they need more time. A t the moment, as they are holding their arms, and so they should not go for political negotiation.   International organizations have not much applying this issue, but only theoppositions in border area and insurgents in foreign countries have constantly claimed about this issue and tried to disable the country situation, for our government, I would like to inform to all State/Division Administrative Authorities that we definitely will not accept any "tri-patite" negotiations, as they claimed."

 

Actually, the regime even would not like to accept bi-partite negotiation with NLD and its leaders. However, because of international pressure, they have to talk with this main opposition party and its leaders, to reduce international pressure and to have some international assistance.   Thus, the involvement of ethnic people a dialogue partner will take more time, because even the talks with NLD had no any results.



C.  Response to International Labour Organization (ILO)

 

From the beginning of 2001 until half of the year, SPDC and its administration authorities had worried about the visit of ILO because they had no readiness to halt all practices of requisition of forced labour, mostly violated by army commanders from various battalions in rural areas. In the meeting, Minister of Home Affairs also admitted that even the regime already issued Order 1/99 that relating to stop local authorities to not use forced labour, the requisition of forced labour still occurred in the form of civilian porters in military offensives in frontier.


 

In his speech, he mentioned that:

 

"Concerning to Order No. 1/99, all State/Division administration authorities must be careful and it is the main responsibility to maintain this order. Although prison authorities had provided (prisoners) for the requirement of military operations to be porters, however, these were not always enough for many military commands' regular regiments. Whenever they did not receive the enough number of porters, they always arrested tke civilians in cinema theaters, in villages. Sometimes, township authorities, village tract and village authorities and policemen have requested civilians far porters and let them stay at homes for many days, sometimes, telling them for short days for porterage, but took them many days. Now, we are in discussion with respective commanders to change their tactics using of "forced labour" to replace it with "paid labour" and if they used the civilians for 7 days tocarry supplies, they might have to pay labour cost with money. We need to find the way of not using labour by force, but paid those civilians for constributing their labour. In the current situation, I would like to request all TownshipPDC authorities, Town ward/village PDC authorities, they should not issue any order relating to requisition of forced labour, in community development case, you must be careful to not ask money and labour from the civilians, but if they would like to involve to contribute their labour voluntarily, we would accept."

 

The regime SPDC had ordered to stop requisition of forced labour since 1999, however, in practice, the use of forced labour was not stopped.   As the use of forced labour was not stopped, the regime added another order in October 2000 order supplementing Order 1/99.   Until the situation before ILO High-Level Team visit to Burma in September 2001, the use of forced labour was still conducted by some local authorities and SPDC military regiments.

 

In a meeting in June," officials of Ministry of Home Affairs adopted some action plans to do before ILO Team arrives.   The action plans in the minutes of the meeting are at below:

 

 

"Minute No. 3: ILO was formed in 1913.  Burma entered into ILO as a member on May 18,1948. Burma signed to not use forced labour on March 4, 1955.   Village Act, that allow the authorities to use unpaid or forced labour since 1907.   However, for many years, ILO did not say about this Act for many years but now they say to change that Act.   Thus accusation came after they have met with some people who they wanted (in the border areas, which he meant ILO Inquiry Commission who gathered information about forced labour). After meeting with ILO people, the government SPDC declared 1/99 order.  Later after discussing with them, we issue additional order.  Let the people know about these orders.

 

 "Minute No. 4: ILO High-Level Team will come.   They will go and investigate in States and Divisions. The authorities must show them that there is no forced labour. Although there are changes in legislative measure, they must find whether the authorities have enforced the laws and orders.   We must have to explain the people and inquired whether there is use of forced labour, what actions have taken against violators, what evidence we have, it is a need to conduct interview with people.   These are preparations that we have to do to say them there is no forced labour.

Requisition of forced labour by members of Brumese Army still remains
a serious labour rights violation in
Burma


 

 

 

"Minute No. 44:  ILO will talk firstly about the acts concerning to Order 1/99.   We already solved this problem.   Later, they talked more how we implemented according to acts.   ILO will come in September to many areas and investigate how we implemented the orders.   We need to work as below:

 

a.     To show the evidence that we had implemented and how we did for all people knew (about the orders).

 

b.     To prepare office copies and files.

 

c.      To keep all records of instruction orders (let the SPDC authorities including general administrationoffice, town ward/ village PDC authorities and section leaders, sign as records that they explain about Order 1/99 and supplementary for Order 1/99).

 

d.  To put the Order 1/99 and Supplementary for Order 1/99 in blackboards in all administration office. If some offices did not follow accordingly to order, they will be punished.   On August 10, please inform the citizens in villages with loud-speakers or any ordinary way.   (To clearly explain to civilians that whenthey decided to work voluntarily for those who were in hardship for traveling, living is not meant forced labour.  Please explain the villagers.)

 

By referring to their activities, while the regime could not apply "rule of law" for all level of their authorities, to exactly follow according to the order of 1/99 to stop the requisition of forced labour, the authorities have forced the villagers to not tell truth about the use of forced labour in villages to ILO Team. On the other hand, whenever the ILO team members, SPDC's Intelligence people went along with them and so that the civilians who worried for the future punishment did not dare to tell truth.

 

During SPDCs ail levels of authorities hold explanation meeting to civilians about the visit of ILO Team, they expressed one threatening word that "you must be careful, because of you, the country should not be in bad name in the international community, please love your country".   It meant if the civilians told truth about the requisition of forced labour and if Burma was sanctioned by international community, they might be punished for their words.   (The use of forced labour before ILO High-Level Team visited to Burma, and SPDC preparation to close the cases of forced labour are described in the previous The MonForum. Issue No. 8, 2001)

 


II. SPDC supporting groups to grip in power

 

A. United Solidarity and Development Association (USDA)

USDA has been a main organizations that formed in 1994, after 1990 general elections and SPDC decided to not transfer power to people elected representatives. Most of its members are former BSPP (Burmese Socialist Program Party) and Socialist youths during BSPP time. Most members are hand-picked by the local SPDC authorities and formed with many cells. By giving better opportunities to some young people, it tried to organize many millions of people to become its members.

 

In the past, USDA members hold big ceremony to support SPDC's National Convention and the role of Burmese Army to involve in politics and play in an important role in the people parliament or govern-ment even without elected by the people. NLD has against this comments and boycotted National Con-vention. Again, USDA hold several public assemblies in die whole country and accused NLD as foreign puppets and colony followers.

 

Later in 1998 while NLD and other non-Burman ethnic political parties, which won 1990 elections called to convene People Parliament and the formation of Committee for Representing People Parliament (CRPP), the opposition groups were accused as "destructive elements" and as they are relying on foreign power.

 

On behalf of SPDC, USDA members hold public assemblies in all States and Divisions in the whole country and forced die civilians to attend the assemblies to against the NLD and CRPP Especially, USDA members actively involved in organizing the assemblies and they gave strong speeches and applied term papers that described that NLD and CRPP were destructive elements, who did not respect national sover-eignty and asked SPDC to abolish NLD and CRPP. After these serial assemblies, SPDC arrested many NLD members, 1990 elected MPs, CRPP members and ethnic nationality leaders including some Mon leaders from Mon National Democratic Front (MNDF), which won 5 seats in 1990 general elections. Until now, USDA remains the main supporters to SPDC and the regime has provided assistance to this organization and let them operate itself to get fund and activities. SPDC adopted the main policy to them as to keep like the political agenda of SPDC. On the other hand, SPDC also instructed USDA members to against NLD and report regularly about the activities of NLD.

 

In 2001, Mon State USDA hold their annual meeting on August 18 and invited all Township USDA Executive Committee members to attend that meeting. The meeting was held in city hall of Moulmein, the capital of Mon State and Mon State SPDC Chairman or Command of Southeast Military Command, Maj. Gen. Myint Swe and many other high levels SPDC officials attended the meeting. In the meeting, Mon State PDC Chairman instructed to USDA members with many points and some points that relating to maintain their power are as below:

 

"USDA members must do registration of the political parties in their own area and monitor their activities and reported to concerned SPDC office or Intelligence Office as quick as possible.

"USDA members must be careful all the time about the security of their areas and when they know sometimes that could make harm to the security of an area, they must inform to concerned government office or Intellligence Office.

 

"Although USDA team's stance at the moment is as social team, but in the future it will be transformed to a political organization, so the members should endeavor for the betterment of the association, and to conduct more activities."

 

And, the Mon State USDA Chairman, U Aung Khin, also gave a speech and instructed to the members that:

 

"USDA members must be careful in politics and security of the State.  Some political parties attempted to get power in shout-cut way by cooperating with armed insurgent groups and tried to disrupt the security of the State.

 

"USDA will have to enter in the future elections and so we must prepare to win in the future elections.

"USDA must discover the activities of political parties and their members in every area of Mon State."

 

According to their speeches, when SPDC completed their national convention and drawing the constitution as they liked, they would transform USDA as a political party and would enter in elections. Their plan is quite clear and they have no plan to transfer power to elected people representatives during 1990 elections.

 

On the other hand, while the regime is banning the activities of other political parties except National Unity Party (NUP), it has officially and openly supported USDA activities.   The concerned military commands provide fund and arrangement in strengthening the organization.

 

Township USDA regularly holds the monthly meeting and they have helped the regime for information and many other activities.

 

As an instance, the excerpts of some minutes written from Kyaikmayaw Township USDA's August Monthly meeting are:

 

"............As the team (USDA) age is 8 years old, at the moment, it needs to improve its organizing force and the executive committee members must need to go to the fields to review the works.  Currently, Township USDA has about 73, 000 members from 220, 000 town population and is about 33% of the total.   We need to organize more members to enter into this organization to increase up to 50% of the total population.   We need to do it before the coming next USDA annual meeting.

 

"............All village USDA executive committee members must attend basic military training and need to coordinate with village militiamen, local military battalions and anti-insurgent force to take security of the area.

 

".........The team members also need to collect information on NLD activities and their programs against the government and reported to concerned authorities.

 

"........The team must find the way to raise fund and fund collection from the people.   To describe who support the fund and where they lived."

 

The regime also gives basic military training to these USDA members and also appointed to close work with militia force in the villages and sometimes, worked with the local military battalions.   Most of them are given responsibility as "informers" to the nearest Military Intelligence (MI) Units. Due to their agenda and decisions from serial meeting, USDA members also actively involved in many activities in town and villages as they have full authorities from the concerned SPDC regime. When USDA organized to have more members, sometimes, they cooperated with local SPDC
authorities and forced the villagers to be members in the organizations.

 


As an instance,

"On June 26, 2001, Ye Township PDC authorities gave an order to headmen of Taung-bon village, a Mon village in northern pan of the town, that as the village had no USDA team, the village headmen needed to form the team with 100 members.   When the village headmen asked to Township USDA how they would form with 100 members in village USDA, the authorities instructed all headmen, section leaders and militiamenwould be members in the team.   When the headmen formed the team, they got only 62 members and so thatTownship authorities instructed them to force another 38 villagers to be members in the team.   Then, the headmen sent the list of the USDA members and their ID cards for records in Township USDA."

 

By this way, USDA in Mon State has attempted to increase the members and one day, when it transformed as a political party, it would use all members in the country to be its supporters or to vote its representatives to win in elections.   On the other hand, in both towns and villages, this organization has more influence and even the authorities have to discuss with them for some decisions in some cases.

 

At the same time, not only they organized some people to become USDA members and they also tried to organize the family members of team members be their supporters.   In June 2001, before the 8th Annual Meeting of USDA was held, they also let all levels of USDA teams filled up a registration form of each member's family information, including their names, birth dates, ID numbers, separation of sex and ages, occupation and other information.

 

On the other hand, when the regime SPDC implemented some project as state level, the authorities have especially relied on USDA in all levels.   The higher SPDC authorities officially give duties to those USDA members in all levels to work instead of them.

 

As an instance,

"In an order sent to Kawkareik Township PDC authorities from Karen State authorities dated, on May 18, 2001, when SPDC's Central Population Registration Office to collect information about some sample families' incomes and expenses, they have asked all village/town section USDA members to involve and help registration team to get information."

 

Similarly, in May, 2001, when SPDC's "Agricultural Products Trading Department" planned to borrow money to farmers in Mon State, SPDC transferred that duty to village USDA to involve in this activity instead of the department.   That was meant SPDC attempted to increase the USDA authority and influence in many parts of the country.

 

As an instance,

"From May 17 to 19, 2001, in Bo-net village, Chaung-zon township of Mon State, instead of Agricultural Products Trading Department, four Executive members of village USDA, took responsibility borrowing money to farmers in village library and forced them to sell their paddy at low price after harvest."

 

In USDA, the members are mostly young people and when they have better opportunities than other people such as they have more and more authorities to do what they liked and are not used to be forced labourers and avoid from various types of tax, many opportunists tried to enter in this organization.   Most of them are young people and BSPP former supporters, who have less experience of the regime's oppression entered to this organization for power.

 

 

B. Nationality Unity Party (NUP)

 

NUP is also the main political party that supports the rule of SPDC and it also is supporting the sham National Convention.   This political party was formed since 1988 and entered into general elections hold in May 1990.   As the party was formed with former members of BSPP leaders, the people in many parts of Burma did not vote it and won only about 10 seats.

 

However, while the regime banned the activities of NLD and other ethnic political parties, it has constantly encouraged NUP activities.   In most towns in Burma, only the signboards of NUP are allowed to be existed in towns and villages.

 

As the result in 1990 general elections, SLORC/SPDC knew that NUP was not popular among the people.   So that the regime again formed USDA as social organization and planned to transform as new political party.   In new coming SPDC planned elections, which is not sure when, both NUP and USDA (may be with a new name) will enter for elections.


 

Currently as a main duty of NUP is to hold the National Convention again, which started since 1993 and came into standstills for many times.   This National Convention aims to draw a new constitution that guarantees the role of Burmese Army to be in politics.

 

In an excerpt by Col. Tin Hlaing in the 1st four months meeting with officials from General Administration Department, he mentioned about NUP as below:

 

" ........... We have to be careful to the veteran politician group because they cooperate with opposition party (NLD), and created misunderstand between our government and the people, between us and internationalgovernments as well.  NUP also declared their opinion statement that they constantly opposes NLD activities that follows foreign instructions! and as destructive elements.  It said, if we aim for the real national reconciliation, bi-partite (between the SPDC and NLD) negotiation is not enough, all political parties must go and talk in National Convention.  NUP also asks NLD that they must go to National Convention again, if theywould like to do for the works of national duties .............. "

 

According to his speech, he completely supported the opinion statement of NUP and the regime also wanted NLD to attend National Convention.

 

 

III. Circles of Corruption

 

While the regime is strengthening its activities to grip in power, on the other hand, it could not provide the full financial supports to their all levels of administrative authorities, members of armed force, police force and militia force to run their activities.   However, SPDC only instructed them that to collect fund from the local civilians to run their offices or operate their activities.

With the name of porter fee or security fee, the battalions which base close to villages or even in towns always collected fund from villagers because they are not fully provided from their military battalions.


Sometimes, the commanders from the concerned battalions also needed for their personal expenses and for their families.   Even the civilians have known about these types of corruption, nobody can complain because they would be punished.

 

As an instance,

"IB No. 61 that bases in Thanbyuzayat town gathered fund from the civilians from Mon villages close to townwith 300 Kyat per month per household until March of this year for the security of villages and gas-pipelinethat connected from Tenasserim Division to Karen State for a cement factory.  In April, the battalion commanders ordered to increase to 500 Kyat per month.  Because of this more fund, extortion, the, villagerscomplained to headmen.   When monthly meeting with that battalion in village monastery, the headmen from Wel-win-ya village also explained the poor situation that the villagers were facing and demanded to battalion commanders to reduce the fund collect as before.  Battalion commander was too angry and he said, now the army was taking security for villages and the whole areas, and he added if they would not like to pay for security cost to army, each man from every household must join village militia force.  He continued that if they did not want to join, each household must have to provide 3600 Kyat for them to do duties as militia forces. As many villagers would not like to join to militia force, at the end, they agreed to pay again.   The commanders gave two months time to 'pay them with 3600 Kyat per household. As Wel-win-ya village had about 500 households, the battalion receive a lot of money.  Accordingly to villagers, after they received from the civilians,the army also bought a car for the battalion and to use for commanders."

 

Among the regime authorities and armed forces, the polices are the most vulnerable group that have less income and faced more difficulties to have enough foods and other expenses for families.   Like other departments, they are also instructed by the regime that to seek their own fund to support their activities which are adopted from higher authorities. Thus, the police departments in State/Division and Township always have to find the way, which they can raise fund for their own department.

 

As an instance,

"In April, 2001, Mon State's Moulmein District Police Department celebrated a food selling fair in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, and tried to sell many thousands of tickets to passengers and truck drivers who arrived to Moulmein.   The price of ticket was 100 Kyat per sheet to eat one meal of rice in the fair and they forced many civilians who came outside of Moulmein city to buy the tickets.   Tickets were sold for many days and the department received about 1.5 million Kyat. As many civilians that far from Moulmein could not come and visit to food selling fair and could not take meal in the fair.   So, the department received about 1 million Kyat profit from this fair.  According to a car driver in Moulmein, he said the police depart ment did about four times like this in one year for their own fund."

 

The regime's an investment in pipeline construction, to supply energy to
a cement factory in Pa-an Township,
Karen State

 

Not only the police and army have involved ill various types of corruption and fund raising program, even the village headmen in villages have involved in corruption.   Normally, whenever the higher authorities came and visited to a specific area and villages, Town ward leaders or village leaders always got an opportu-nity to collect fund from civilians by showing the reason that they spent for special guess.   This type of corruption has taken root in Burma since BSPP era.


As an instance,

"On August 16, Commander in Chief of South east Military Command, Brigadier Myint Swe and manyhigh rank commanders arrived Kaw-bein village, Kawkareik Township of Karen State, to inspect their military operations and area development.  He also arranged meeting with local village leaders on that day and went back to his headquarters.   On the next day, by saying for the expenses to provide to special guesses, Kaw-bain village tract leaders, Nai Han Thein and Nai Bo collected 300 Kyat from every village in village tract.  In Raw-hem village tract, there are 10 villages totally and it has about 2700 households totally.   The village headmen collected 300 Kyat from each village and they received about 810, 000 Kyat.  According to
villagers, they would spend not more than 200, 000 Kyat in providing foods and beverages to commanders and other SPDC authorities.   They put the remaining money to their pockets."

 

For the regime, as they need supports from the government servants, especially from all levels of administration authorities, those authorities have became opportunists and they would do what they like in their own area.    Although the higher authorities knew about that, they just blind their eyes.

 

Even in some cases, the civilians knew that the authorities involved in corruption, but they could not complain and have to accept the demand of authorities.

 

As an instance,

"In Paung township of Mon State, although the civilians knew that when they renewed ID card in Population Registration Department they have to pay 500 Kyat according to the existing law, however the officials from that department asked 5000 Kyat from civilians whenever they renewed their cards.   But no civilian in that township can complain because they knew that the higher authorities would not punish their men."

 

Sometimes, those authorities confiscated lands from the civilians, which were grown with valuable trees and crops and shared the lands among them, or sometimes, they re-sell these confiscated lands.   With the commands of Southeast Military Command, every township build pagodas and established some religious monuments.   In most cases, the authorities collected fund from civilians for donations and they almost the extra money for their own uses or administration expenses.

 

 

IV. .Conclusion


Many people who follow the political development in
Burma believe that although the regime has talked with NLD leaders because of international pressure, the change or the transformation to Democracy would not come easily and soon.   The regime is still planning to remain in power as long as possible, by forming USDA as their supporters, ignoring tri-partite political negotiations and trying to hold National Convention and drawing a Constitution that guaranteeing their future.

 

On the other hand, the regime have attempted to encourage the people to forget about the politics and allows to involve on the daily illegal lotteries, gambling and casino in many parts of Burma.   And, the authorities allow to sell various types of liquor and open more restaurants for drinking.   The local authorities can also collect tax from these illegal activities.

 

Only the authorities and their supporters including business people who close to them have great opportunity in administration and business or taking money from civilians with illegal ways.   At the same time, the majority people in the country faced a lots of poverty and hardship for survival.

 

Under the rule of the SPDC, the people face the following conditions on their daily basis.   The conditions are: (1) the civilians face a lot of hardship in their living; (2) unemployment; (3) the children have less and less chance for education and need to help their parents; (4) high malnutrition among women and children; (5) the people have less interest in community work; (6) young people have less interest in sports; (7) cannot have enough health care when they have health problems and (8) more and more stealing, lies and corruption happened in the country.

 

While the regime is increasing the number of army and attempting to grip in power, they mostly spent the money in army especially purchasing army supplies and warplanes. Because of very little percentage of expenses in health, education and agriculture fields by the regime, there is a high humanitarian crisis in Burma, that claimed recently by some UN agencies in Rangoon, the capital of Burma.