News, Personal Accounts, Report & Analysis on Human Rights Situation in Mon Territory and Other Areas Southern Part of Burma
The Mon Forum
Issue No. 10/2001
October 31, 2001
The Publication of Human Rights Foundation of Monland (BURMA)
(1) Local SPDC's Agricultural Products Trading Department forced farmers to sell paddy,
(2) Forced labour in Mon State after ILO Team visit,
violations by SPDC and Burmese Army in Ye and
Suffering of a Mon villager from Pa-law Township, Tenasserim Division
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),
MOC- Military Operation Command (of Burmese Army)
NMSP- New Mon State Party,
MNLA- Mon National Liberation Army,
KNU- Karen National Union,
KNLA- Karen National Liberation Army,
ILO- International Labour Organization,
Local SPDC's Agricultural Products Trading Department forced farmers to sell paddy
Like every year, in September and October of 2001, SPDC's Agricultural Products Trading Department issued orders to the respective town ward/ village headmen to instruct the farmers to sell their paddy to designated paddy-buying center at low price, according to department's an order issued in Karen State and explanation from farmers in Mon State.
In an order dated on September 19, Manager of Kawkareik town ship (of Karen State) Agricultural Products Trading Department instructed village headmen from six Mon villages in western township area to sell 7350 baskets of paddy to the designated paddy-buying centers. In order, the authorities ordered six Mon villages, namely, Kha-rit, Kawkhataw, Mon-hlaing, Kyauk-ye-twin, Kyaik-kha-pin, Ngwe-chan-gone and farmers outside of these villages, to sell paddy to paddy-buying center.
In the order, the authorities clearly described that Kha-rit village has to sell 1300 baskets of paddy; Kawkataw village farmers to sell about 1300 baskets; Mon-hlaing village farmers have to sell about 1200 basket; Kyauk-ye-twin village farmers have to sell 1200 baskets of paddy; Kyaik-kha-pin village farmers have to sell about 300 baskets of paddy; Ngwe-chan-gone village farmers have to sell 1500 baskets of paddy and the farmers outside of these villages have to sell about 500 baskets The manager also added to ensure for the of paddy.
sale of paddy in their order. (see in the original order, attached) [not in Internet version]
Similarly, in August and September the authorities from Mon State's Agricultural Products Trading Department in every township met with village headmen and farmers and instructed them to sell their paddy at low price, 350 Kyat per basket, while the price in outside market place was about 800-900 Kyat per basket.
On August 13, Mudon Township's managers of department went to some Mon villages, namely, Hnee-pa-daw, Yaung-daung and Kwan-hlar, and met with farmers from these villagers and lent some money to farmers as advance payment to them and took promise from them they must sell their paddy after harvest. But they must have to agree to sell their paddy at price 350 Kyat per basket. The authorities forced the farmers to sign that promising they must sell their paddy to the paddy-buying center.
In Mudon Township, the authorities have instructed to all farmers that they must have to sell 15 baskets of per acre to the nearest paddy-buying center. If they could sell the full amount paddy required by the authorities, those farmers will be named as "duty completed farmers". This year, many farmers worried that they could not complete selling the set amount of paddy because of flood in the middle of rainy season and crop production could be reduced. On the other hand, as a gas-pipeline passed in many farms and the cultivation was not convenient as before and so that that was
another reason, the crop production could be reduced.
In Ye Township, the department authorities instructed to farmers that they must sell 10 baskets of paddy per basket to designated paddy-buying center. As the paddy quality is different from Mudon township's paddy, they would pay 300 Kyat per basket to farmers while the paddy price in market is about 750 Kyat per basket.
After last harvest, Agricultural Products Trading Department bought many millions tons of paddy from farmers in the whole country and distributed to their servants in country-wide, and "also exported some millions tons of outstanding rice to foreign countries, including Singapore and Bangladesh.
Forced Labour in
News 1: Road repairs in Kyaikmayaw Township
Before Commander-in-Chief of Southeast Military Command, Brigadier Myint Swe, paid a visit to Tarana village, a Mon village in Kyaikmayaw Township of Mon State, the villagers along the motor road had been forced for nine days during 6-14 October to repair the road, informed by a local villager.
The commander paid a visit to Tarana village on October 15 using that road. The road is connecting Kha-yon and Min-ywa villages in Kyaikmayaw Township of Mon State and it situates in eastern Moulmein City, the capital of Mon State. As the road was built since the British era, had not repaired the broken part of the road for years, and so the village authorities have hurried up to repair the road roughly before the commander came and saw it.
This road is only five miles long and the villagers from Taran, Kaw-swe and Min-ywa were forced to repair the most ruin parts of the road. The village headmen had to take responsibility to recruit the villagers and ordered them to carry stones and earth from the outside of the road and carry them to the road. Then they had to fill in the poles. Every repair of the road was done by villagers' manual labour.
According to a villager from Tarana village, the headmen recruited 90 villagers totally from his village and gathered 10 persons from each village section and there are nine sections in village. These villagers were ordered to work for nine days totally from October 6 to 14, before the commander, Brigadier Myint Swe arrived for a visit.
That villager added, they were not provided any payment for their labour contribution in the road and they had to carry their own foods from their homes. The working time started in the morning about 7:00 a.m. and stopped in the evening about 5:00 p.m.
Just before the visit of ILO High-Level Team, in July and August, the Mon State PDC authorities have explained to civilians in towns and villagers about SPDC's Order 1/99 that stops the requisition of forced labour and additional order for Order 1/99 that issued in October 2000, that added to stop all types of forced labour in the country. The authorities also claimed they would punish the law violators at all levels.
When ILO team arrived to
News 2: Road construction in Kalar-gote Island, Ye
Since the mid-October until the first week of November, the villagers in three villages in Kalar-gote Island are used to build a road that connects the villages in seacoast to military bases in the middle of Island.
In the first week of October, with a purpose to have a better communication from the remaining two villages, Upper-island and Lower-island, which are about 10 kilometers far from their bases, army commanders ordered the village headmen from three villages to build these roads. But as Order No. 1/99 was issued to stop the use of forced labour, they found a way that did not against the order. The village headmen ordered village firemen associations to conscript the villagers to build the roads instead of them.
Since October 15, they have asked 20 villagers from Lower-island village, 20 villagers from Middle-island village, and 17 villagers from Upper-island to build the roads. So totally 57 villagers on a daily basis come and contribute labour in these road constructions that connect villages and military bases. For the army, they have good access to villages and to sea-coast for military patrols, security of their bases and to collect tax from fishermen and villagers.
These military battalions have taken bases in Island since April, they also confiscated some lands owned by villagers and built the military barracks. In recent months, before ILO visit, these military battalions had conscripted the villagers to build their barracks .
News 3: Road clearance along Moulmein - Ye railway road
In October 2001, after the end of rainy season in Burma, the local authorities have forced the villagers, which close to railway and motor roads, to clear the bushes and small trees alongside the roads for the security of the roads, informed by a villager from Palaing-kee village, Ye Township.
In first and second weeks of October, Ye Township authorities ordered to village headmen in northern part of Ye Township, who stayed along railway road to clear bushes and small trees along that road for prevention of rebel armies from attacking trains and planting bombs. This railway road connects Moulmein, the capital of Mon State and Ye Town, and so it is also well-known as Moulmein - Ye railway road.
As an instance, on October 6, the villagers from Palaing-kee village, about 4 miles far north of Ye town, were forced by their headmen to clear bushes and small trees alongside the railway road which lied in their village area. One village from one house had to go and work for the whole day. If one household could not sent to the workplace, they had to pay 1000 Kyat as fine.
Similarly to Palaing-kee villagers, other villagers from other villages were also forced to in clearing of this railway road.
Human Rights Violations by SPDC and Burmese Army in Ye and
I. Conflict areas in Mon State and Tenasserim Division
For over five decades in Burma, the southern part of Mon State and many parts of Tenasserim Division have constantly remained in arm conflict zones in which the fighting between the Burmese Army and other non-ethnic armed forces of Karen, Mon and Tavoyan people, who have fought for greater autonomy and equal racial rights.
At the beginning of armed movement, although Mon and Karen armed forces controlled many parts of the area southern part of Burma, however, the Burmese Army, which had more numbers of armed force gradually occupied more and more areas. Then, Mon and Karen armed troops and their political parties retreated to border areas.
In early 1990s, the Burmese Army could occupy more and more bases controlled by rebels for many years, militarily it has over control on the rebels. At the same time, the rebel armies have to change the tactics of armed resistance. They left from their permanent bases and have used tactics of guerrilla warfare and moved more deeply into SPDC semi-control area and still could make troubles against communication, transportation and other logistic system of the regime.
In the earlier 1990s, when the then regime SLORC planned to sell natural gas from Andaman Sea to Thailand, the Burmese Army had deployed more military battalions in Yebyu Township. They deployed MOC No. 8 and ten military battalions from LIB No. 401 to LIB No. 410 to administrate in building Ye-Tavoy railway road that took from 1993 to 1998 in which the army had used huge number of forced labour and to provide protection of Yatana gas-pipeline that connects from seashore to Thailand's border.
In Ye, since 1999, the Burmese Army deployed a new military battalion, LIB No. 299 in southern part of Township area and then moved LIB No. 343 from inside Ye Town to northern part to Township area and confiscated many hundreds acres of lands from the civilians. Again in early 2001, when SPDC deployed MOC (Military Operation Command,) No. 19 and another 9 military battalions under that command, the regime also confiscated another many hundreds of lands owned by civilians.
Thus, since 1990s, the Burmese Army has intensified its
military operations in many parts of Ye and
The more the activities of the Burmese Army, the people have suffered more. Whenever the fighting happened or if the troops of Burmese Army were attacked by rebel armies, the civilians who stayed close to fighting places were always accused as rebel-supporters and some villagers are executed. The army also conducted a movement restriction against the civilians and have not allowed them to work in the farms and fruit plantations freely and has been a common abuse. Women in rural communities are also suffered from the sexual abuses by the regime's solders and their supporters, village militia forces. Consequently, the villagers are constantly suffered from the requisition of forced labour and conscription of frontline porters.
The following facts are the evidence of SPDC authorities' and its armed force members' abuses against the rural ethnic to create their life to be more harder and suffered. Along the civil war in Burma, these people have been suffered constantly and these facts are events in 2001 year.
II. Movement restriction against civilians
During the civil war for many years, the Burmese Army always tries to cut off the assistance from civilians to the concerned rebel organizations. Normally, the Burmese Army accuses that as the rebels are the same ethnic race to local civilians or sometimes their relatives are in the rebel organizations, and believes that
the civilians in rural areas always support the rebels.
Thus, the Burmese Army always tries to restrict the activities of the civilians or the villagers in rural areas, to not have contact with the rebels. This movement restriction also makes a lot of effect for civilians in doing their daily works for survival or income.
In conflict areas of Ye and
In these two townships, the Burmese Army deployed their troops mostly on railway and motor roads, and operated military patrols in me surrounding areas to attack against the rebel armies. When they moved outside of their bases, they were attacked by rebel solders. Whenever they were attacked, the solders from Burmese Army always accused the farmers as rebel-supporters who stayed close to fighting places.
Later, the Burmese Army deployed more their troops along the main roads and instructed to the local village headmen to restrict the movements of the civilians. Again, the commanders and local village headmen also instructs that if they go to their farms or plantations, they must have to inform to village headmen or local army commander based in the villages. When they informed to village headmen or local army commanders for permission, they also have to pay money to get permission.
Strangely, in this year, the army had a new instruction that if the farmers returned from their farms or plantations to their homes, again, they needed to inform the local village headmen or army commanders. When they informed to them, they were also interrogated by headmen or commanders about the activities of rebel armies close to their farms or plantations. The farmers faced a very difficult situation during interrogation because some farmers did not hear some news of rebels' activities while the army received uncompleted information from their radio intercepts.
According to a villager from Aleskan village, he mentioned that:
“Now, the village headmen have a new instruction to us that, when the villagers returned from their farms, they must go village chairman or secretary house and tell them about the activities of rebel force. They are both headmen and. heads of village militia force. If we don't know any activities, we needed to tell them that we don't know. However, sometimes, they heard some news of rebel activities that happened far from our plantations and asked us more questions. If we said we didn’t 't know they might think we refused to say them true, and sometimes they beat the villagers.
"Burmese troops came to our village very often and if they arrived we have to inform them if we know about the activities of rebels. Sometimes they also brought the villagers to show the places of rebels and tried to attack rebels.
"When we went to our farms, we also have to inform to village headmen or army commanders. If they heard news about the activities of rebel armies, they would not allow the villagers to go to their farms and plantations. If they allowed to go and stay at farms or plantations, anyhow, we have to pay them with 50 Kyat to get a permission document. When we were in plantations, we have to hold that document and if not, when the Burmese Army arrived and met us without document issued by them, we could be beaten and punished."
Not only the villagers from Aleskan faced the situation like this. Even the fishing villages along the seacoast of Andaman sea have to inform to troops nearly or sometimes have to pay tax to SPDC naval force to get permission to go to the sea for fishing.
According to a fisherman from Kyauk-hta-yan village, Ye township, he said,
"Burmese solders from naval forces very often arrived to our village, and instructed the villagers, mostly fishermen that we must not bring the rebel solders with our fishing boats. If they knew, the ones who bring the rebels must be killed. They instructed to village headmen to list all names of fishermen who left to sea and made a record. So, the fishermen have to inform to village headmen when they went to sea for fishing and have to pay 50 Kyat to headmen for permission letter and headmen used that money to feed the solders when they arrived to our village."
Anyhow, this movement restriction against the civilians to not go to their workplaces as they like make a lot of negative effects to them. For example, when the time close to harvest, if they do not have chance to go and work in their workplaces, their crops must be ripe and grains will drop onto ground and they would lose.
III. Accusation of rebel-supporters, extra-judicial execution
In Tenasserim Division, KNLA troops have operated their military activities in most southern part of Division and Mon troops from a Mon splinter group, have operated their military activities in area just Yebyu and Ye Township areas, where Mon people are inhabiting.
Normally, the Karen people in the mountainous areas of Tenasserim Division, in where the KNLA troops have more military activities are constantly accused as "rebel-supporters" and some of them are unknowably executed in jungle areas. If compared with Karen people, the Mon people are less executed because the Mon troops from the splinter group could operate only very limited area.
However, whether the Mon armed group is small or big, the people in area, where the Mon splinter group launches their activities, are similarly accused rebel-supporters and are executed without trails.
As an instance,
"On June 6, 2001, a commander of LIB No. 343, Maj. Lin Oo killed two Mon men and tortured a Mon woman from Kaw-hlaing village, which locates in southern part of Ye Township. As a punishment, the commander and solders also tortured and killed those villagers in front of other villagers. They were killed and tortured because they were accused as rebel-supporters.
"In the morning of June 6, LIB No. 343 military column with 200 troops arrived to that village after they operated the patrol in the area. Soon they arrived into the village, they arrested two men, Nai Bo (30 years old), Nai Myaing (35 years old) and a woman, whose name was not known. The solders made arrests with accusation of rebel-supporters as they believed these men and woman have contacted to Mon splinter group.
"After arrest, the commanders ordered his solders to interrogate one man, Nai Bo, first. During their interrogation at mid-day, the solders beat, kicked and cut his body with knives. After severe torturing, the solders gathered all villagers to look their execution of the man. The commander declared that the ones who contacted to rebel army would be killed like that. Then he himself stabbed into the man's stomach with his knife until he died.
"After a man died, the solders brought another arrested woman and interrogated her about the activities of the rebel solders and how she had contacted to rebel solders. When she answered she did not know about rebel solders she was beaten in front of other villagers. The solders also cut her hands with knives. After they could not get satisfied answer from him, they also cut his mouth because they believed she did not give correct answer to them. She became nearly died and then the solders released her.
"Then, they continuously tortured another man, Nai Myaing, and forced him to admit he was a contact person
to rebel solders. The solders similarly tortured him severely and cruelly, while they did not get satisfied answers. At the end, they brought him outside of the village at 5 o'clock in the evening and killed him outside of the village by beating him with bamboo sticks and stabbing him with knife."
In this case, two villagers died and one village were cruelly and inhumanely tortured in front of other villagers. Whenever the solders of Burmese Army killed the villagers as a punishment without trial, they always cruelly killed them in front of villagers with objectives to make threat against the villagers, and to halt the villagers to not contact with villagers.
In some cases, the killing is not always happening with accusation of rebel-supporters, but it could happen in forests, jungles or in rice-farms and fruit plantations. The Burmese Army's solders always think that the civilians outside of the villagers are always supporting the rebel solders especially providing them with foods. If they meet a little evidence that the rebel solders passes through the farms or take a short rest in the farms, the farmers who provide foods and shelters for rebel solders must be killed. This is a common abuse, that have happened for many years during the course of civil war.
IV. Kidnapping and extortion from civilians
Sometimes, the army also accused some villagers as rebel-supporters, but if the cases are not so serious, the solders did not kill them. However, they asked money to use in their battalion fund.
Normally, in rural area, army commanders have instructed the villagers and village headmen to inform them as quickly as possible, when they knew about the activities of rebels. It meant, if the rebel troops came close to their villages, they must have to inform the nearest outpost of Burmese Army. If they failed to inform accordingly to army's instructions, they would be punished or accused they were supporters of rebels.
As an instance,
"In March, LIB No. 343's a military column led Maj. Lin Oo, arrived into Kyone-kanya village and arrested Nai Sa Lay (50 years old), a Mon farmer, with accusation he was a rebel-supporter. Accusation came up after he failed to inform about the passage of rebel army close to his farm. Troops of a Mon splinter group passed near his farm, but he failed to inform the Burmese army outpost. The Burmese solders heard about this news and soon after they arrived into village, they arrested that villager. Then they brought him outside of the village and
tortured. They interrogated, him why he failed, to inform about rebels' activity. After he was cruelly tortured., the solders inform to his family, to bring 100, 000 By at for his release. After his family borrowed money from other villagers and gave the commander. They released him back.
"Similarly, the same military column and commander came to this village again on April 4 and arrested village headmen, Nai Un and a village committee member Nai Thaw Aye. They were arrested with accusation of rebel-supporters, because both headmen were late to inform about the coming of rebel solders in their villages. The solders accused them they tried to close the case of receiving rebel solders in their villages. The headmen were beaten and the solders told to villagers they would kill them. As their families requested to not kill them, the commander said they would be released, if the villagers paid a ransom for them. The commander asked to pay them 200,000 Kyat for each person. After the villagers paid 400, 000 Kyat to commander, they released the headmen."
In most situation, the Burmese Army's military column that launched activities in the rural areas have to find fund for their operations including for office expenses, and cost for feeding the solders and so that they normally collected from the civilians. Or, sometimes, they used the way of kidnapping the civilians and demanded a ransom for the release of these kidnapped persons.
V. Sexual violations against women
In most cases, the rural women are raped by solders of Burmese Army and their militiamen, to whom
they give absolute power in most rural villages, because these forces are the main supporters for Burmese Army.
Normally, in rural villages, the men left for works and sometimes they did not come back and sleep at night in their houses. While only women and children remained in houses in villages, they were very unsafe if the Burmese Army came into and stayed at night in their villages. The solders always climbed to some house and tried to rape women. As the community traditions," many women who were raped by solders kept quite because they were ashamed for the cases.
In other cases, many women were raped in the workplaces of the Burmese Army while they were conscripted to contribute unpaid labour and work for some military regiments. In many parts of rural areas, when the Burmese Army some military battalions have plans growing fruit and rubber plantations, cultivation of paddy, constructing water canals and small water dams, that support their self-reliance program, they always forced the civilians in the area to contribute their labour without payment. When the solders forced the civilians like this, over 50% of women and children involved in the group of forced labourers.
Sometimes, the women in the work places of Burmese Army were also raped by solders at night.
As an instance,
and October 2000, during LIB No. 282 that bases close to Yadana gas-pipeline to
Normally, in the work places where SPDC battalions are conscripting the villagers for labour, women are very vulnerable to be victimized. While the solders are away from their families or no place for a visit for sex with prostitutes, women in workplaces, in porter services and in conflict areas are quite vulnerable for sexual violations by solders.
Sometimes, not only the solders from Burmese Army involved in rape cases, the militiamen who have the most power in the villages also involved in some rape cases. These militiamen knew the village structure village very well and they knew which houses have no men. Thus, the militiamen also tried to rape women from these houses.
As an instance,
"On July 28, two members of Tapu village militia force raped two women and attempted to rape a woman in Aleskan village, Yebyu township of Tenasserim Division, after they were drunk.
"In the evening of July 28, these militiamen from Tapu village, deputy-commander of military force, U Aung Win and one of his followers, went and visited to their friends in Aleskan village, which is about 10 miles far from their village. During they were with their friends, they drank a lots of local alcohol and were drunk at mid-night. So, their friends kept their guns and proposed to give them back in the morning.
"After they were drunk, the two militiamen left from their fiend's house and tried to climb other villagers' houses with only women while their husbands were away in farms or worked in fruit plantations. When they climbed to these houses, they took their knifes along with them.
"First at mid-night, U Aung Win's follower climbed to a woman, Ma Mi's house who is about 50 years old. He tried to rape her by pointing with his sharp knife. When the woman refused, he also cut her hands with knife, and pointed his knife in her throat and other body pans and then raped her. As she worried for the killing by the militiaman, he could not cry for help.
"At the similar time, U Aung Win also climbed to another house, in where only a woman, Mi Pae (about 40 years old) stayed and tried to rape her. When she refused for his rape, he also cut Mi Pae's hands, beat her, pointed with knife and raped her. After rape, she also lost consciousness because too much blood came out. Then, U Aung Win climbed to another house nearby, in where only a young lady, Mi Kyae Lun (about 20 years old) and tried to rape her again. As she knew as the man tried to rape her, she urgently asked for help. When he tried, to cut her with knife, she ran around in her house and escaped.
“After she cried loudly, the villagers came to help her. As they knew, two militiamen raped some women in the village and they also helped other two women, Mi Pae and Ma Mi. When the villagers arrived, Mi Pae had lost a lot of blood in serious condition. The villagers also could not stop blood flow of her and they urgently sent her by truck to Tapu village for treatment with a medic in that village. "
As Ma Mi did not have serious injury, the villagers did not bring her to medic for treatment. Then Aleskan villagers arrested the two rapists and sent them to Yapu village and told about the rape cases and violence against to their militia commander. However, the. rapists did not receive serious punishment as they were dismissed from the group and got permission for retirement."
In most cases, before the women are raped they normally suffered from the physical abuses by solders or militiamen if they refused the abuses. However, many cases are closed and quite if the women do not get serious injury like the above cases.
VI. Constant conscription of forced labour
A. Regular and frontline porters for army
In Ye Township, the battalions of Burmese Army have not suddenly entered into villages and arrested the villagers, however, the army commanders instructed directly to the concerned village headmen to provide how many villagers and which dates.
The headmen have to manage on a rotation basis of all villagers in their villages to share duties to do porter service for army. If the villagers refused to go for porters for the army, they also have to pay a very high price. The villagers are conscripted for two types of porter service.
First type is the local military battalions have taken them for a few days around one specific area and when they reached to another village, they took another villagers as porters, then released some porters. This is also known as "regular porter" and the village headmen have to prepare "ready" for any battalions, which
came into their villages. Another type of porter service is the solders will take the villagers as porters for many days and bring them to frontline or border areas, which are too far from their native places. This type of porters has to be provided for army when only the army battalions make a demand.
The porter fees for these types of porter service are too different. For regular porter service, if one villager could not go for service, they have to pay about 500-1000 per day. However, if one villager could not go for frontline porter service, that villager has to pay at least about 20000 Kyat, sometimes, up to 50000 Kyat depending on the days that they would take the porters.
The tactics of conscription of porters in some townships of Tenasserim Division are quite different. When the solders went into a village, all men except old people, tried to flee to outside of the villages to escape and so that the solders arrested any able-bodied men in villages to be porters and brought them as regular or frontline without easy releasing.
In this type of porter service, the arrested persons can be released only when they could escape in frontline or in other area, in where they arrived. The villagers porters were always taken away for many weeks or many months along with army operations and offensives until they could escape. Sometimes, the porters did not arrive back to their homes and disappeared. They could be died in battle fields or escaped into Thailand. The remaining families would not know exactly what happened to their fathers or husbands in frontline.
labour in Ye Township
In Ye township, as mentioned above, the villagers are not forced to be porters to carry ammunitions and they have been constantly forced to build military barracks, construct or repair railway and motor roads, guard roads and other infrastructures, work in army's farms and plantation and others.
The evidences of forced labour except in porter service are as below:
"On April 17, 2001, with a purpose to take security of Te-Tavoy railway road, Ye Township authorities and LIB No. 299 commanders ordered Hangan and other villages to take guard, railway road in the part of their villages. So that the headmen in these villages have to manage on a rotation basis to give duties to villagers to guard along the road."
"On August 13, LIB No. 591 that bases in Kyaung-ywa village called a meeting with all villages in that Kyaung-ywa village tract and conscripted 36 villagers everyday to guard Ye- Kyaung-ywa road to prevent the activities of rebel solders came close to road."
"In July and August, 2001, LIB No. 586 that newly deployed in northern part of Ye Township area on Thanbyuzayat -Ye motor road had forced the villagers from Tu-myaung village tract to contribute free labour in construction of military barracks. According to a villager from Kyone-por village, which is in that village tract, said the battalion demanded 70 villagers from their village to work in the battalion compound for 5 days in July and 4 days in August. The works instructed by army commanders are to build short roads in compound, to clear small trees and bushes and to build some barracks."
There are many accounts of forced labour that have been conscripted by army. When LIB No. 546 conscripted the villagers to contribute unpaid labour, although some village headmen complained to battalion commander, Col. Ngwe Soe, that the use of forced labour was illegal according to Order 1/99 and the supplementing order for 1/99, he refused these orders were not connecting with to army.
labour in Yebyu Township
Similarly to Ye Township, the civilians in all villages of Yebyu township area also forced to contribute unpaid labour for the works of army battalions and other infrastructure works.
The village headmen have arranged and constantly provided regular labourers for Burmese Army's various military battalions, which came into area and launched the military patrol in the area.
The new type of forced labour in this area is "recruitment of temporary militiamen" in the area. If compared with Ye Township, this area have more military activities of rebel armies and so that the Burmese Army ordered the villagers in the area to be involved in village militia force for some days every month, but not permanently
In October, 2001, Military Operation Command (MOC) No. 8 and its military battalions that have launched military patrol in the area instructed to all village headmen in the area that they must protect their own villages and if the rebel armies came into their village, they must attack by themselves. Then, the battalions equipped 10 guns at least in one village and provided to all villages in township area and instructed they must select permanent five militiamen in village to hold these arms and for the remaining 5 members of
militiamen, the villagers have to involve on a rotation basis. These permanent and rotated militiamen must have to follow the orders from nearest military battalions. For some villages, MOC No. 8 provides up to 20 arms and more villagers are recruited to be temporary militiamen.
According to a villager from Aleskan village,
"In our village, the Burmese army provides us with 10 guns and ordered village chairman to hold these arms as the leader of militiamen. Then they ordered him to select another 4 villagers to be full and permanent militiamen in villages. And, the commanders instructed to headmen that every villager must involve in militia forces to take security of village and surrounding area. In every week, 5 villagers had to hold the remaining 5 rifle guns and take security of the area. The village headmen had to manage on the rotation basis in conscription of 5 villagers every week. If one villager could not go and work as a temporary militiaman, they have to pay 4, 500 Kyat to village headman and he will hire a substitute. As the villagers are conscripted for one week, they lost chance to work in their farms or plantations."
Similarly to other township areas, the civilians in Yebyu Township have always suffered to contribute their labour in road clearance for the security of the railway and motor roads, to prevent bomb plants and attack from the rebel solders. Sometimes, some part of the road collapsed and the villagers also had to rebuild it again.
As an instance,
"From May 25 to
May 29, by the order of SPDC railway authorities in
Again, the villagers are forced to clear the roads in Yebyu Township every year.
As an instance,
Although SPDC's Ministry of Home Affairs have issued Order 1/99 and supplementing order for that order to halt all practices of forced labour, however, the conscription of forced labour have continued in many parts of rural areas.
During the course of civil war for many years, the civilians in Ye and Yebyu townships have been suffered a lot from the arrest of civilian porters for military offensives. Although SPDC has agreed ceasefire with the NMSP, at the same time, it increased the military offensives against the other non-ceasefire groups. So the use of civilians as porters has continued.
Additionally, when the regime and Burmese Army encouraged foreign investment in the area, the villagers in these areas have been suffered more from the conscription forced labour to mainly construct the roads, build the military barracks and other infrastructure projects, that-would support the protection of foreign investments and the regime's investment in the areas.
Whenever the regime is oppressing the civilians, the rebellion against the regime always occurred because it have taken roots for many years, and the regime itself could not suppress these rebellions by means of arm fighting. Only in the situation when the political problems are solved by means of politics by all arm factions, who currently and directly involved in fighting, the human rights abuses and other violations could be stopped.
Suffering of a Mon villager from Pa-law Township, Tenasserim Division
The Mon Forum's Human Rights Workers conducted an interview with a villager, who fled from Pu-law township of Tenasserim Division. He escaped from the intensive conscription of forced labour, unofficial tax extortion and other abuses by local SPDC village authorities and military battalion in the area. His accounts are as below:
Name: Nai Saw Win (not his real name)
Age/ Sex: 42 Years/ male
Nationality/ Religion: Mon/ Buddhist
Native Place: Kyauk-taung village, Kyauk-lone-kyi village tract, Pa-law Township, Tenasserim Division
"How many days you take to reach here (in a border area)?
Before I reached here, I stayed in one Mon village in Yebyu township for three months (during rainy season). I left from my home of my village since the beginning of rainy season (in the first week of June). Now, at the end of rainy season, so I came here.
Do you come alone or with your family? What is your next plan?
I came with my family, five of us together. I tried to settle in a border village (under the control of New Mon State Party). And, I tried to seek a work here.
Why did you flee from your village and what happened in there?
I fled from my village because I have no more money to pay to Burmese (SPDC) authorities and the solders. And, I have no time to do my family works to have some income. If we don't flee, we have nothing to eat and pay to authorities. The village headmen and military always ordered us to work in road construction and in porter service.
Can you explain me how the authorities and army forced you to work? Can you explain me in details?
Burmese Army from military battalion LIB No. 280 built a eight miles long road from Kyauk-taung to Pa-laik village for three years by asking the villagers to contribute their labour. Now, the road completed roughly and the army and authorities ordered the village headmen in the area again to build a bridge near our village.
As we knew, the authorities and commanders from LIB No. 280 received about 3 million Kyat to construct the bridge that passes about 100 meters wide. However, the commanders and authorities took about half of that fund. They collected from the villagers again. By the order of commander, the village headmen from seven villages in our village tract collected fund from our villagers. Seven villages in our Kyauk-lone-gyi village tract are: (1) Kyauk-taung; (2) Khu-boke; (3) Ah-gone; (4) Thayet-tha-pin: (5) Nyaung-shin-gone; (6) Kan-paw and (7) Kyauk-lone-kyi. The village headmen collected 5000 Kyat from every house and collected 3500 Kyat from women-headed or aged people family. If you refused to pay, they would arrest and detain you. They said the reason was they would need to buy nails and cements.
Again, after fund collection, the commanders and village headmen ordered to villagers again that they needed many wooden poles and lumbers to build the bridges. They needed wooden poles from one types of trees that grown along seacoast. Every two houses in village had to provide them with one pole to workplace. So, they got a lots of wooden poles and then they also sold them to traders after it have not all used after building bridge.
Besides the army and village headmen forced the villagers to find wooden poles, did they use villagers in other works?
After they collected facilities, they also forced the villagers to build bridge. When they built bridge, they also ordered the villagers to fill a lots of earth along both sides of building to be higher than the normal because they tried to prevent water level to not reach to bridge. So the villagers had to dig earth from both sides of road and carry to embankment.
Again, we had to build embankment of the road from that bridge to Pa-laik village, which is about four miles long. Last year, the villagers already built the embankment of this road. However, the battalion commander said the embankment was too low and it can be flooded during raining season. They instructed the villagers to fill more earth along the embankment to be higher to prevent flood. They also instructed us to enlarge the embankment on both sides, it made more harder to complete the works. We had to carry earth from outside of embankment and carry them from 20 meters and filled on the embankment.
We had to work in there for many days before and after Songkharam festival (during in the period from February to May). In one month we had to work at least one time and every time we were instructed to work up to 8 days without stopping. In this construction, there were many children and women involved while their fathers or husbands had to work in farms.
Did you experience as a porter for porter service for Burmese Army?
Yes. I did. Every three months, our villagers are ordered to send food supplies and ammunitions to a military outpost of Burmese Army, that based in the top of Tenasserim river (Taninthayi river).
They called the outpost is "Aung-hta-wara" camp and we have to walk three days to arrive there. By the order of military commander from LIB No. 280, the village headmen collected rice in the village and conscripted about 30 porters from our village each time to carry rice for that military outpost.
In March, I was taken as porter to carry about a half tin (about 8 kilograms) rice to that outpost. There is no proper road to reach and we climbed up and down of steep mountains. Some villagers also had to carry ammunitions. We walked for three days in mountain and jungle roads. The solders guarded along the way and said if their rice was reduced, we must have to pay money for the loss. After we arrived there, we have to return for another 3 days. When many villagers arrived back to their homes, some villagers got malaria. I also got malaria and had to treat with a local medic for nearly one month. During I was sick, my wife also had to work in road construction. She could not work at farms like me and so that we had no foods and money.
Many villagers are afraid to be porters to go to that
outpost and so some families also fled into Thailand. As we didn't know how to
What is your future plan? Would you like to go back to your home again?
I don't know.