News, Personal Accounts, Report & Analysis on Human Rights Situation in Mon Territory and Other Areas Southern Part of Burma
The Mon Forum
Issue No. 12/2001
December 31, 2001
The Publication of Human Rights Foundation of Monland (BURMA)
(1) Less forced labour, but more fund extortion for road constructions,
(2) Chaung-zon township farmers are forced to grow bean in drought lands,
(3) Farmers in Mon and Karen States are forced to sell their paddy at low price,
(4) December 31, deadline for migrant workers,
(1) Collective human rights abuses in Ye Township after military deployment and hew armed conflict, PART I: forced labour and porter service
Some Acronyms in This Issue
SPDC- State Peace and Development Council,
IB - Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
LIB- Light Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
MOC- Military Operation Command (of Burmese Army),
AR- Artillery Regiment (of Burmese Army)
USDA- Union Solidarity and Development Association (of the regime)
NMSP- New Mon State Party,
KNLA- Karen National Liberation Army,
ILO- International Labour Organization,
Less forced labour, but more fund extortion for road constructions
A local five miles long road is well known as Zathapyin - Kaw-hnut motor road. The authorities planned to build this road with only fund collected from the civilians and they would provide construction facilities but all costs would be paid with civilians' money. As the road passes four Mon villages, namely, Kado, Kaw-hnut, Kwan-tar and Thankapaing, the villagers from these villages must have to pay all the costs.
The fund for this road was started collecting from every household on December 5, each household have to pay 2500 Kyat. However, for the poor families, the authorities set the deadline on December 12.
The authorities received fund in estimation about 1.25 million Kyat from Kado village; which has about 500 households; 1 million Kyat from about 400 households of Kaw-hnut village; about 250, 000 Kyat from about 100 households of Kwan-tar village; and about 500, 000 Kyat from Thankaping village respectively. The authorities received totally 3 millions Kyat of money from the civilians to construct that road.
The authorities had not only collected fund from the civilians, they also used villager labourers to clear the route of roads. The authorities had forced 30 villagers from these villages everyday since December 5 for two weeks and the village headmen had to manage to send their villagers to workplaces.
Similarly, when the authorities in Kawkareik township also collected fund to build a road from Kanni to Kawkhaik villages which is also about 5 miles long. This road also passes four Mon villages and the authorities have collected fund from 4 villages. These villages are Kanni, Kawkyaik, Kaw-khaik an and Kaw-lyan, and the authorities collected 2000 Kyat per household. The authorities had collected about 2 million Kyat from 1000 households in Kanni village; 600, 000 Kyat from 300 households; 200, 000 Kyat from 100 households in Kaw-khaik village and 600, 000 Kyat from 300 households. Therefore, the authorities collected about 3.4 million Kyat totally to build this road, however, they had not used any villagers as forced labourers.
After SPDC's Ministry of Home Affairs declared Order 1/99 and their authorities' explanation about to halt the practices of the requisition of forced labour, some local authorities tried to avoid using forced labour and used hired labourers and pay labour cost. To get labour cost and to buy the required facilities, the authorities had collected fund from the civilians. Although the use of forced labour was reduced, the authorities had collected more money from the civilians for road construction and other development projects.
Chaung-zon Township farmers are forced to grow bean in drought land
In December, after farmers reaped their paddy crops in their farms, the local authorities again in Chaung-zon township's farmers to grow some bean and vegetables according their projects to increase the amounts of crops in township.
Chaung-zon township situates in an
island western part of
However, this year, as Mon State PDC plans to produce more raw materials of bean to produce cooking oil and have forced the farmers in Chaung-zon through township authorities, without inquiring whether their lands would be possible to grow bean after paddy harvest and what assistance they would need to grow these plants.
The township authorities have forced the farmers to grow sunflower plants and some other types of bean which they could produce cooking oil. They forced all farmers in township to grow these plants without fail, and instructed the farmers to buy seeds from authorities. The farmers are forced to buy sunflower seeds with price 1000 Kyat per basket. Although most farmers have not grown any plants during dry season because of land drought but they have no choice and grow these types of plants for one to two acres. If they failed to grow, they would be punished and their lands could be confiscated.
During they are planting sunflower plants and other types of beans, they are not provided assistance for plowing their hard lands or to give fertilizers for
their plants. They have to hire some tractors to plow their hard lands. In case, the farmers have to spend a lot of money in plowing their lands and buying fertilizers.
Additionally, the authorities also extorted various types of fund for the expenses used in township's administration and other occasions. In October, 2001, the authorities collected 100 Kyat from every household in township to hold township sports. The authorities received about 6 million Kyat totally from 60000 households in the whole township.
Farmers in Mon and Karen States are forced to sell their paddy at low price
Like the previous years after harvest of paddy crops, Mon State and Karen PDC authorities ordered the farmers in every township, to sell their paddy at low price to the nearest paddy-buying centers set up by the respective township authorities.
Started since November 2001, the authorities in Mon State and Karen State established the same number of paddy-buying center like last year, normally one center in every village tract, and forced the farmers in that village tract to sell the complete the set amount of paddy.
In an SPDC order, which the authorities in Kya-Inn-Seikyi township,
In that order, Township authorities also made a restriction against the farmers that if they do not complete their duties of selling the set amount of paddy, the authorities will not issue a permission to husk their paddy. Actually, each farmer in both Karen and Mon States, they needed permission from village authorities even to husk their own paddy and to get polished rice. Now, Township authorities have instructed to village authorities that if one farmer does not complete his duty of selling the set amount of paddy, the village headmen must not issue him paddy-husking permission to him. So, that farmers could not husk his paddy even his own. This restriction also makes effectiveness for authorities in pressuring the farmers to complete duty of selling of paddy.
Similarly in Mon State, the authorities set up many
paddy-buying centers in all townships and forced the paddy growing farmers to
sell their paddy at low price. As an instance, in Kyaikmayaw
In Mudon township, the authorities have planned to buy about 1.2 million basket of paddy from farmers through their 13 designated paddy buying centers in the whole township area. The authorities instructed to farmers to sell 16 baskets of paddy per acre, because land soil in Mudon is good, if compared with other township.
According to a farmer from Ye township, Mon State, now, the authorities have ordered the farmers to sell their paddy with 10 baskets per acre. Ye township authorities also set up about 8 paddy-buying in the whole township area and forced the farmers to sell their paddy.
The authorities have bought paddy from farmers with a half price of market price. While the market price for one basket of paddy is 700-800 Kyat, the authorities buy only 350 Kyat per basket from farmers. Some farmers who lost the crops because of floods and insect attacks could not make any complaint but they have to complete their duty of selling full amounts of paddy set by authorities. Some farmers, who lost crops or who got less crops, have to sell crops from markets with high price and then sell to paddy-buying center at low price.
December 31, deadline for migrant workers
In November and December 2001, Mon State PDC authorities issued warning order that migration to neighbouring countries illegally to seek work must be stopped, if not, these illegal workers would be punished.
Those migrant workers who worked in Thailand and Malaysia must return to Burma before the end of December and if they refused they must be punished with an imprisonment term, mentioned in the order. Similarly, the migrants workers who tried to illegal go into these neighbouring countries must be punished similarly. Traffickers who brought these migrant workers must face more punishment accordingly to the order.
The township authorities in every township also instructed USDA members including town ward and village level members, to explain about this order to civilians and inform them to organize their family member, who are in neighbouring countries to return to native country as quickly as possible. If they might face punishment accordingly to immigration laws existed in Burma.
The order also added that if the Burmese people are working in other countries, they could face various types of difficulties and dangerous conditions. If they served for the country with their physical and mental labour to the country, their native Burma must be developed.
USDA members also explained about this order in every village in Mon State. USDA is formed for over 8 years and it is a supporting organization to the current military regime, SPDC. Although USDA tried to organize the people to bring their family members back to Mon State, no migrant worker arrived back, according to a village in Ye Township.
He added, "some USDA members
have the family members working in
Due to economic mismanagement and serious unemployment in Burma, hundreds of thousands of civilians migrated into Thailand to seek jobs in construction and fishing industries. As an unofficial estimation, there are about 1 million Burmese migrant workers in Thailand and over 300, 000 workers are Mon people.
After SPDC's General Secretary No. 1, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt visit to Thailand in November, Thailand has put pressure to Burma to terminate the migration of illegal workers into Thailand, who take some of Thai workers' works. Thai employers are happy to employ Burmese workers, because they have to pay low wage and do not have to offer even minimum allowance package for these workers.
However these migrant workers create unemployment for Thai
workers and so Thai government put pressure to Burma to terminate illegal
migration to Thailand. Thai government also registered the number of Burmese
workers and planned to gradually deport them back to
Collective Human Rights Abuses in Ye Township, after Military Deployment and New Armed Conflict:
PART I: Forced labour and porter services
I. New Military Deployment in Ye Township
Ye Township is in the southernmost of Mon State and it is the largest township among 10 townships in Mon State. The local inhabitants are majority Mon people and some Karen people inhabited in northeastern part of Township area. As the Township has large lands, the civilians in the are farmers who grew rice in the western area along the seacoast and some grew rubber and fruit trees in eastern part of the areas.
Location map of Ye township and new military deployment
As many parts of township area are occupied with thick forests, the rebel armies, KNLA and MNLA troops, have constantly used the area to deploy their military bases and through there, they have operated military operations against the Burmese Army and the successive military regimes in Rangoon.
For over many years, although Burmese Army suppressed the rebel group, especially, New Mon State Party (NMSP) and its army faction, MNLA, however, the regimes could not cease the rebel activities. During the course of civil war, the Mon civilians in this township areas had been suffered from abuses, such as, arbitrary killing, arrest, tortures, that relating to suspicion to NMSP-supporters. While BSPP regime and Burmese Army launched "four cuts campaign" against the civilians to cut off their supports to NMSP and MNLA troops, many villages in this township were relocated to the new resettlement area that close to army outposts or along Thanbyuzayat - Ye motor road, in which they could control.
In June 1995, after several rounds discussion and pressure from Thailand, NMSP agreed for ceasefire with SLORC to stop fighting. Since then, many parts of township have less fighting and some villagers who displaced also went back to their villages and settled in there again.
However, the peaceful conditions had not taken long. In 1997, due to SLORC/SPDC's serious human rights abuses especially constant conscription of forced labour in building Ye-Tavoy motor road, some retired Mon commanders rose up to fight against the regime by organizing former soldiers. As the fighting grew up even in some parts of Ye township where the Burmese Army had semi-control, SPDC reinforce more its army battalions.
So that in 1999, the Burmese Army's Southeast Command deployed a new military battalion, LIB No. 299 in southern part of Ye township. However, the Burmese Army still could not control the whole area of township and rebel armies still could operate guerrilla fighting against Burmese Army.
In 2000, Southeast Command confiscated lands near Aru-taung village along the motor road owned by Aru-taung villagers. The army did not give any compensation cost to those land loss civilians.
Additionally, in April 2001, SPDC's new Military Operational Command (MOC) No. 19 and its nine battalions confiscated many hundreds of lands from civilians again in the northern and eastern parts of Ye township area. In this land confiscation and new military deployment, SPDC showed the reason that they deployed more troops close to border to prevent foreign invasion. At that time, SPDC has border tension with Thailand and they preferred the possible foreign invasion was Thai army. Thus, by taking good opportunity about border, SPDC deployed about 10 battalions more in Ye township.
However, some Mon people in the area believed the plan of deployment of MOC No. 19 and its military battalions in Ye township meant SPDC wished to block NMSP bases and MNLA authorities in the area. Many Mon community leaders who have experience in the past said after the Burmese Army blocked outside of the area, it could be possible that the regime would force MNLA troops for surrender.
At the same time, the Burmese Army also deployed some naval force in Kalar-gote island, Ye township and confiscated lands from civilians. The Burmese Army deployed a new Artillery Regiment (AR)* No. 309 for the security of navy base.
Now, there are IB No. 61, IB No. 106, LIB No. 299, LIB No. 343, AR No. 309, and MOC No. 19 and its 9 battalions in Ye Township area. When there more military battalions and new deployment in township, the civilians in the area have been suffered more to provide labour and payment for the expenses of these battalions. And, the more military battalions launched offensives against the rebel armies, the local villagers are abused by soldiers with suspicions of rebel supporters.
II. Forced labour and fund payment for army deployment
After MOC No. 19 and its military battalions confiscated about 2000 acres of lands in northern part of Ye Township and along Ye river (see in the map), it has no enough budget to complete building of their military barracks. As normal way, the higher military commanders just ordered the concerned military battalions to find their own fund to build their military barracks.
The villagers nearby who lost the lands were again forced to contribute their labour in various types of construction for army base and also have to provide the materials requested by SPDC soldiers. If they could not provide the requested materials, they must to find and pay fund for the equal amount of materials.
A. Forced labour and extortion by LIB No. 591 and No. 583
During MOC No. 19 deployed two military battalions, LIB No. 591 and 583, these two military battalions have continuously used forced labour from the villages near their battalions.
These two military battalions confiscated about 153 acres of lands owned by villagers from Kyaung-ywa and Akan villages, which are situating on Ye river bank, in April 2001. When Southern Command confiscated lands, they normally confiscated lands that were grown with rubber and fruit trees. Because this land confiscation, the civilians lost about 83. 6 million Kyat at market price accordingly to villagers.
The conscription of forced labour did not start soon after land confiscation to construct the military barracks. But it starts in June 2001. In that month, both LIB No. 591 and No. 583 planned to build "tactical command office". When they built military barracks, the commanders have forced the civilians from two village tracts, Tu-myaung and Kyaung-ywa. These two village tracts have about 19 villages and the villagers from these villages have constantly suffered from the use of forced labour by battalions.
In the whole month of June, the civilians from Kyaung-ywa and Akan villages have to provide 6 men everyday to work cleaning the grounds, cutting trees and bushes, leveling the grounds, carrying earth and others. To help these men, the commanders from battalions also conscript two oxen-carts everyday. As they needed to carry various construction materials, including woods, logs, stones and sands, they used these carts. The commanders also ordered the villagers form 18 villages in the surrounding area to provide them with bamboo, lumbers and thatches, and carried them by the conscripted oxen-carts.
In July, after collecting required materials, they planned to. actually build the barracks. On July 7, the battalion commanders called a meeting with village headmen from 19 villages nearby and instructed to villagers to build three barracks of "tactical command office" in their confiscated lands. The commanders who involved in the meeting are: MOC No. 19 commander Col. Than Soe; LIB No. 583 commander Lt. Col. Soe Naing Oo; and LIB No. 591 commander Lt. Col. Myo Win, and the village headmen from Kyaung-ywa and Tu-myaung village tracts attended the meeting. In the meeting, the commanders instructed that Kyaun-ywa village had to construct one building; Tu-myaung village had to construct one building; and the remaining 17 villages had to build the third building. Actually, in these two village tracts, there are many small villages, while only three or four villages, such as Kyaung-ywa, Tu-myaung and Mi-chaung villages are bigger. After instruction, the commanders instructed to village headmen that if they could not take responsibility to complete building the barracks, they may have to pay 326, 000 Kyat as fine.
Additionally, the army commanders also requested fund from the village headmen to provide for expenses required spending during the construction and for construction costs. In the instruction, the villages such as Sonpatauk, Akan, Kaingtaw, Kanni had to pay 30000 Kyat for each village; Lakepoke, Pa-Ian, Yit-chaung and another three villages had pay 20000 Kyat for each village; and Pha-gyi, Wae-yee-haing, Ngakalay-chaung and Naing-gout had to pay 10000 Kyat for each village.
In August, the commanders have used more villages for the security of the road that connects Ye and Kyaung-ywa. On August 11, there was a bomb blast near Akan village and an army truck was hit by blast. As their military bases close to this road, the commanders from both battalions concerned for the attack against the base. Thus, the commanders issued a curfew order and did not allow any villagers to move out from their villages after 6:00 p.m. in evening time. At the same time, they asked three passenger trucks of Kyaung-ywa village and used them with payment. They also ordered 18 villages in the area to provide 2 men from each village for every day to take security along the road. Motor road is about 10 miles long and the soldiers put the villagers along the roads.
During this month, the authorities and army commanders also extorted some fund from villagers to pay for the construction of army hospital in Ye township and a small army hospital in the bases of LIB No. 591 and No. 583. On August 19, 2001, Tactical Commander, Col. Than Toe, from MOC No. 19 and the commanders from these two battalions called a meeting with headmen from 19 villages of Kyaung-ywa and Tu-myaung village tracts and instructed to villagers that they would have to pay 700, 000 Kyat totally to build a main hospital in Ye town, in MOC No. 19 compound and a small hospital in the base. In the meeting, the commanders also instructed that such big villages, four villages, had to pay 40000 Kyat from each; middle size village, 6 villages, had to pay 30000 Kyat each; and the remaining 9 villages had to pay 20000 Kyat each.
The Burmese Army has extorted fund not only for construction purpose, they also collected fund from civilians in the area to construct a proper road from Ye to Kyaung-ywa, which is very important for their logistic and communication purposes. In the recent years, this road was roughly built with forced labour and it has remained to fill hard rocks onto its embankment. To fill with small pieces of stones onto embankment of this road, the commanders ordered 19 villages to provide 2000 kyins of stones (one kyin of stone is 100 cubic foots volume in measurement of 10 foot in length, 10 foot width and 1 feet in height). In decisions, some small villages such as Sonpatauk, Akan, Kanni and Kaing-taw needed to provide 150 Kyins from each village; Lake-pote, Pha-lan and Yit-chaung needed to provide 100 kyins from each village; and the remaining small villages needed to provide 75 kyin from each village. However, the commander said they did not need stones brought them but needed money that cost for total 2000 kyins of stones. One Kyin of stone has price about 1200 Kyat and the villagers had to pay money instead of stones. Thus, the village headmen had to collect fund again to buy these stones to use in laying on road embankment.
Why the military battalions did collect fund for stones? According to villagers, the army battalions also provide works for their soldiers and let them collect stones from rivers, then forced the villagers' oxen-carts to carry them to designated places, and paid the cost for stones to soldiers with villagers' money. In this case, the army battalions, which could pay little amount of money to soldiers as salary tried to provide works for soldiers.
In August, these two military battalions continuously collected construction materials from civilians from these 19 villages. On August 22, Captain. Aung Thaik of LIB No. 591 ordered to all village headmen to provide them with different type of lumbers, because he said the previous provided lumbers were not enough. On August 25, the same commander called a meeting with village headmen and asked to provide them with thatches, bamboo and wooden poles. On that day, he also forced the village headmen to pay the expense for the costs of stones as quickly as possible. He added every village must complete paying at the end of October 2001.
B. Forced labour by LIB No. 586
The civilians in Tu-myaung village tracts have been not only suffered from by the use of forced labour by LIB No. 591 and No. 583, but they were also suffered by LIB No. 586. The new battalion, LIB No. 586> under the command of MOC No. 19, confiscated about 300 acres of land on Thanbyuzyat-Ye motor road, in the northern part of Ye town and about 5 miles far.
This military battalion built their barracks in July and August 2001, the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Ngwe Soe had constantly forced the villagers from 17 villages in their construction works. Among 17 villages, only 4 villages, Paw-taw, Kyone-paw, Lit-kataing and Tu-myaung villages are big villages, and more villagers from these villages were forced for this battalion.
According to a villager from Kyone-paw village, he mentioned that:
"Our village has 70 households. In July and August 2001, our villagers had to work jive days. Another villagers had to work on another day. During five days, one person from one house had to go and work and so, totally 70 villagers had to go and work in the battalion headquarters. As many men had to work their own works for income, there were 20 children and 30 women among 70 villagers went for work. We had to work from 7: 00 a.m. to 11: 00 a.m. every day. We did not receive any payment for our work and we were not fed with foods and water in works. Other villages also had to work like us for five days on a rotation basis that included all villages in the surrounding area. The main works we had to work were to build the road in battalion compound, clear bushes, dig trenches and bunkers, and build the barracks and roof them."
C. Forced labour in, naval base in Kalar-gote island
The Burmese Army and MOC No. 19 not only confiscated the lands in strategic places along the main road and lands grown with valuable trees, they also confiscated some lands situated in an island in northwestern part of township (look in the map), to deploy their naval base, as a sub-base of Myawaddy navy force, which headquarter is in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State.
On August 15, 2001, the army commanders from LIB No. 343 and MOC No. 19 came to this island and confiscated about 300 acres of lands in island, by putting a mark as "army area". Most confiscated lands were grown with fruit trees. The Burmese Army confiscated the lands with plan they would deploy both navy force and an artillery regiment. In that island, there are three villages and they are called as Upper Island village, Middle Island village and Lower Island village according to the villagers. There are about 700 families in these three villages and a few number of them are farmers who grow rubber and fruit trees and rice in island while many of them are traditionally fishermen.
After land confiscation, before the naval regiment came and took base, a military column of LIB No. 343 have taken base together with new Artillery Regiment No. 309. These two military have mainly taken responsibility to conscript the villagers from three villagers in preparation of battalion ground for Artillery Regiment (AR) No. 309.
In August, after land confiscation, LIB No. 343's Maj. Aye Thein and AR No. 309's Maj. Min Ko forced the villagers from three villages to clear all bushes and small trees in the confiscated area.
They had asked 50 villagers everyday to come and clear the ground. Upper Island village and Lower village provide 20 villagers everyday, while Lower Island village provided 10 villagers to work-place. The army had used the villagers until the middle of September.
In mid-September, the soldier decided to build their military barracks in some space of confiscated lands. They started building barracks at 5 villagers' owned lands and these villagers were: (1) Nai Min - Mi Than Ye; (2) Nai Shwe Tun - Mi Kae; (3) Nai Gled-Mi Kyuu; (4) Nai Shwe - Mi Shwe Mi; and (5) Nai Klar Htee - Mi Pyar Shin. First, these five families lost about 54. 5 acres of land and the army ordered the villagers to clear lands in that specific space and to cut all trees in the places they planned to build barracks but did not cut fruit trees to get crop for the battalion fund.
Similarly in September, these battalions built a new road from their bases to Lower Island village and Middle Island village to get better communication. In the construction of these roads, the commanders asked 57 villagers everyday for the whole month. They asked 20 villagers from Lower Island village, 20 villagers from Upper Island village and 17 villagers from Middle Island village respectively. Normally, in using forced labour, the villagers had to bring their own foods and tools. They were needed to work for the whole day.
Porter service for Burmese Army
After a Mon splinter group split from NMSP, it launched new military activities against the regime. Burmese Army, Southeast Command and MOC No. 19 also launched the counter offensives this Mon army In October and November 2001, that Mon army took their temporary in eastern part of township area and so, the Burmese Army had followed to fight against them.
During the Burmese Army was launching offensives against Mon rebel, they have constantly arrested the Mon and Karen villagers who stay along motor and the area between Ye river and motor road.
There are many cases various battalions, IB No. 61, LIB No. 299, LIB No. 343, LIB No. 591 and LIB No. 583 had arrested many villagers and used them as porters to carry their ammunitions and food supplies.
During the offensives, Southeast Command ordered LIB No. 343 first, which was familiar with the area, to launch the offensives against the Mon rebel as initial activity. Whenever LIB No. 343 launched offensives, they always arrested some villagers and used them as porters.
As an instance,
"On November 3, 2001, when LIB No. 343 troops led by Maj. Lin Oo launched the offensives, the soldiers also met two farmers, Nai H (38 years old), Sonpatauk villager and Nai M (25 years old) Nga-kalay-chaung villager on the way from their plantations near Wae-yee-haing village and asked them where was the base of Mon army. When the farmers they did not know, both men were beaten and were taken as porters for 7-
days- along with troops. Nai H------was ordered to carry about 8 kilograms of rice and six motor shells, while
Nai M was ordered to carry about 30 kilograms of food supplies, especially, rice, milk and cooking materials.
"On November 7, when the soldiers went around and returned to Nai H -- 's hut, the soldiers took his belongings even in front of him but he was afraid to tell to commanders. He said they took his cooking pots, plastic sheets, rice and even his digging tools.
"During they were taken as porters, the soldiers did not feed them with enough foods and sometimes, they tied them up at night because the soldiers worried they would flee from porter service. Sometimes, they even have to walk at night time with heavy load and dark sight. Even some porters are sick on the halfway, they were not released by soldiers, said Nai H --."
Some battalions, which involved in the military operation arrested some farmers and interrogated them about the activities of rebel armies. When they could not get satisfied answers from the farmers, the soldiers arrested those farmers along with them and used them as porters.
As an instance,
"Then, the soldiers arrested them and interrogated them about the activities of Man army led by Col. Pan Nyunt. When the farmers could not give answers related to rebel armies, the soldiers took them for 7 days and used them as porters to carry ammunitions and food supplies. "
Similarly to LIB No. 343, LIB No. 299 also launched the offensives in eastern part of township area. During offensives, the soldiers from LIB No. 299 also arrested some villagers and forced them as porters.
Before ILO High Level Team made a visit to Burma, the authorities from Ministry of Home Affairs also came to Ye Township area and explained about the Order 1/99 and supplementary Order to village headmen from every village in township and told them that any type of requisition of forced labour, including requesting porters in villages, is illegal. Thus, some brave village headmen also argued to military commanders about Order 1/99 and complained that they would not like to provide porters for army's porter service.
As an instance,
"And, the commander asked the village headmen to provide them with 15 porters and 5oxen-carts. And, the village headmen also argued against the commander by telling about the Order 1/99.
However, the commander replied to village headmen that these orders were not their concerns. They also threatened to village headmen, if the headmen did not cooperate with them they would consider they were rebel-supporters, and so the headmen had to stop his arguments. Then the commanders asked for foods, and the headmen had to provide with pork and chicken.
The soldiers kept the villagers for the whole day until the sun set. However, as the army slept one night at village, they did not bring these villagers as porters. And, the village headmen asked them to release villagers and to let them sleep them at homes. The commanders told village to guarantee fir these villagers to return to that football ground on the next day's morning.
"In the morning of December 4 about 6 o'clock, as the army had to leave from village due to order from tactical command, the soldiers angered to villagers who came late. And so they arrested the villagers before they waked up. Many villagers fled and, they shot their guns to air. Then, they could arrest five villagers, namely, Nai Tae, Nai Ta, Nai Han, Nai Kun Prin and Nai Ong. The soldiers also took an oxen-cart and its owner Nai Chao along with them."
As the Mon splinter groups are not only active in forest area and the Mon villages in rural area, some group also used sea to travel from one place to another. When the rebel soldiers passed from northern part of township to southern part, they always traveled by boat in sea.
To suppress this type of rebel activities, the soldiers also took fishing boats and followed to these rebel soldiers. When they conscripted the boat for transportation, they not only conscripted boats, but also arrested the fishermen to drive boats equipped with engine propellers. When the fighting happened in the sea or in seacoast, sometimes, the arrested fishermen are also killed or injured because they could not flee and hid.
As an instance,
On October 10, 2001, when 20 troops of LIB No. 586 was launching offensives against a Mon rebel group, who traveled in sea western part of Ye township area, a 19 year old boy, Mehm Lu See and his parents' boat were taken by soldiers. They forced him to drive into the sea in the evening about 7 o'clock. After 15 minute drive, the soldiers and the boats are shot by rebel soldiers. Because of fighting three soldiers and the boy were seriously wounded. Then they were brought to Te public hospital and the boy died in hospital."
In this case, the parents of the boy could not find for justice and did not have chance to complain about the army use of forced labour, conscription of the boy to be driver in dangerous situation, without his own desire.
Although the regime, SPDC's Ministry of Home Affairs tried to impose the rules of requisition of forced labour, however, the army, which has constantly relied on the porters for their logistics in offensives, has not followed the rules. However, nobody could punish the commanders who used forced labour, before and after ILO visit.
The Burmese Army has launched offensives not only northern part of township area, but also southern part of township area. In southern part of township area, another Mon splinter group has operated military activities and the Burmese Army tried to launch offensives against that Mon splinter group.
Thus, the villagers in southern part of township have been constantly suffered from the abuses related to suspicion of rebel-supporters. Additionally, the villagers are always arrested as porters and were taken for many days to carry ammunitions and food supplies for soldiers.
While the Burmese Army was launching the military offensives against Mon splinter group in southern part of Burma, it also brought some military battalions from Arakan State. However, the soldiers and commanders from these battalions also have the same behavior like other military battalions and the civilians in southern part of Ye Township have constantly suffered from various types of abuses. The battalions which brought from Arakan State, western part of Burma are LIB No. 528 and No. 378. Besides these battalions, the military column of local battalions such as LIB No. 299 and No. 343 sometimes launched offensives in this area.
During these battalions have used the villagers in porter service, sometimes, they also used them as mine-sweepers or human shields to walk in advance.
As an instance,
"On September 23,2001, while a military column of LIB No. 299 led by Maj. Pho Shwe entered into Kyon-kanya village, they arrested villagers, namely, Nai Zon Taing, Mehm Htaw Mon (18 years old) and Nai Ong Kyi: When the soldiers were in the village, they have news from their radio intercept massage that the Mon splinter group planted landmines along the roads in the surrounding area. As the soldiers tried to go to another village, Mihtaw-hla-gale, they used these three men to walk in advance to use them as mine-sweepers. Then when they climbed a mountain, the border point of two villages, they forced these villagers to climb in front of them and used them, as human shield. If the rebel soldiers shot to them, the bullets will would hit to villagers first. But lucky, the villagers were not hit by bullets or mine explosion."
On the other hand, the battalions which launched the military offensives in southern part of township always required porters to carry their ammunitions and food supplies. So, the commander of battalions also instructed to village headmen to provide them with exact number of porters from-the villagers. That is, the village headmen had to manage on a rotation basis to provide these battalions with the required porters.
As an instance,
Due to this constant conscription of forced labour and porter service, the civilians in Ye Township lose their time to do their own works. The soldiers arrested many villagers from the various villages in southern part of Ye township and brought them for many days. When the men are away for Burmese Army's porter service, women and children had to work in their farms or fruit plantations for income. In some families, as the women are busy with their babies and can not take care their farms or plantations, they also lost their crops.