News, Personal Accounts, Report & Analysis on Human Rights Situation in Mon Territory and Other Areas Southern Part of Burma
The Mon Forum
Issue No. 2/2002
February 28, 2002
The Publication of Human Rights Foundation of Monland (BURMA)
(1) The Burmese Army still uses forced labour,
(2) SPDC authorities' farms, but fund supported by civilians,
(1) Forced buying of paddy from the farmers in southern part of Burma
Some Acronyms in This Issue
SPDC- State Peace and Development Council,
IB - Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
LIB- Light Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
MAPT- Myanma Agricultural Produce Trading (of SPDC's department)
The Burmese Army still uses forced labour
On February 4, 2002, when 40 troops of LIB No. 299 led by Maj. Ngwe Oo, launched the military operation in the southern part of Ye Township, the soldiers took about 15 villagers as porters in their 5 days long operation.
On that day, the LIB No. 299 commander asked 5 porters each from three Mon villages, Hangan, Kaw-hlaing and Singu, which are situating in the southern part of Ye Township. They informed to village headmen to send the villagers to their military headquarters near Hangan village.
According to a porter who arrived back to the village after 5 days, he said that the soldiers forced the porters to climb many mountains with their heavy load on their backs. The porters were also shout by the soldiers to walk quickly like soldiers . He, a porter from Hangan village, also added that he also met a porter with 60 years old from Singu village could not walk fast like soldiers because he was old and weak.
While that porter could not manage to walk fast, the commander, Maj. Ngwe Oo, also kicked the man three times with his army boct and then released him by giving 200 Kyat for him.
According to another villager from Hangan village, the village has provided porters to LIB No. 299 very often since January 2002. He said, the village headman has managed in providing 2 trucks for army for their use in the battalion headquarters and for travel, and 5 porters to work various works in their battalion base. This conscription of villagers has been on a daily basis.
At the same time, the villagers from every household in Hangan village also had to pay porter fees even when the LIB No. 299 has no military activity. When they launched military operation in the area, they asked both porters to carry their food supplies and ammunitions, and porter fee for their expenses during the operation. The porter fee was 500 Kyat from every house.
In northern part of Ye Township, although the Burmese Army's LIB No. 591, LIB No. 583 and LIB No. 343 have not used forced labour in collecting stones for building a road from Ye to Kyaung-ywa, but the army requested a lot of money for all costs of stones.
On February 3, the commanders from LIB No. 583 arrested and detained one village headman from Tu-myaing village for his failure to pay the set amount of money to these battalions for the costs of stones.
In contract, the army battalions have not forced the villagers as unpaid labourers to collect many tons of stones from the river and stream to fill in the embankment of the motor road. But the soldiers collected stones and crushed into small pieces and sold to villagers. The soldiers sold stones to the villagers at price 1 kyin (local measurement, which comprised of 100 cubic feet volume of stone) is 1500 Kyat.
Tu-myaung village tract needs to buy 120 kyins of stones from these three battalions and they need to pay 180000 Kyat to commanders. On February 3, the commander of LIB No. 583 asked two village headmen, Nai Lu Aye (50 years) from Tu-myaung village and Nai Myint Lwin (43 years) from Paw-htaw village, to discuss about the cost of stones.
In the meeting, the commander said as the soldiers already collected 120 kyins of stones, the villagers needed to pay for the cost. The village headmen also replied to commander that as the villagers do not have money to pay for all costs and petitioned the commander to wait for some more days. The commanders angered to village headmen and then arrested Nai Lu Aye as a kidnap and said another village headman, Nai Myint Lwin, that he must find the exact amount of money and then they would release Nai Lu Aye.
Although the battalions have less used of forced labour, but they still collect fund instead of labour and use their soldiers as paid labourer. This plan could raise the income of their soldiers, who receive very low salary
SPDC authorities' farm, but fund supported by civilians
In February, 2002, when Kawkareik Township PDC authorities cultivate dry season paddy crop for a show to the farmers, they collected fund from all village tracts for expenses to buy gasoline.
For the cultivation of dry season crops, like paddy, they need to bring water from river by pump-engine generators and those machines require a lot of gasoline. The authorities plan to grow only 10 acres of dry season paddy crops by bringing water from river, but they have asked 25 gallons of gasoline from each village tract.
In this township, there are about 35 village tract and ask fund from all village tracts. They also instructed to village headmen that they would not take gasoline, but to pay them money which is the same amount to 25 gallons of gasoline. One gallon of gasoline is about 800 Kyat and every village tract has to pay 20000 Kyat to authorities. The deadline for the payment is February 15.
From 35 village tracts in the whole Township, the authorities could get 700, 000 Kyat and they do not need to spend it all, said a local villager. She also added that this amount of money collected is just for buying gasoline said by the authorities and later they might collect more money for many purposes, such as, planting small plants, reaping the grains and transport of crops.
Forced buying of paddy from farmers in southern part of Burma
I. SPDC's Paddy-buying plan
In October and November 2001, Mon State, Karen State and Tenasserim Division PDC authorities ordered to all Township PDC authorities to adopt the concrete plan to buy paddy from all local farmers at low price. The farmers, without exception, must sell their paddy after harvest season in November and December 2001 until March 2002, to complete their duties.
Selling the set amount paddy, some percentage of the total crop production, to the ruling governments or military regimes has been the main "duty" for farmers and every farmer needs to complete this duty. If not, the farmers, who failed duty complement, must be punished by State authorities. On the other hand, the authorities themselves have the responsibility to force the farmers to sell the set amount of paddy to the paddy-buying centers.
In these conditions, the authorities and farmers, who have power and no power, always confront each other while the authorities force them to sell their paddy. Consequently, the authorities never consider to reduce the set amount of paddy that the farmers need to sell although many farmers face crop damage because of flood, insect attack, worst weather conditions and other cases. And, they always forced the farmers to sell the set amount of paddy completely and without fail.
II. Paddy-buying project in Mon State
Like the previous years, the authorities in Mon State adopted a plan or a project for buying paddy for five months, from November 2001 to March 2002, as "paddy-buying project" and manage to obtain the set amount of paddy from farmers.
Mon State authorities planned to buy about 2.5 million baskets of paddy from all farmers who live in 10 Townships. (Note: One basket of paddy is about 46 pounds in weight)
The project is normally named as "2001-2002 Year paddy-buying, transport, store and husking project" with long name to coordinate all processes from buying paddy until they could husk them to be ready for delivery to many the regime's departments and export to foreign countries.
The objectives of the project set by the regime are:
To resell rice to civilians with possible price,
To provide relief food supplies when there are disasters because of flood, storm and fire,
To export extra rice to foreign countries to obtain income of foreign currency,
Implementing of these objectives or to receive the set amount of paddy or rice for use in the country and for export, the authorities had borrowed some small amounts of money to the local farmers in the period from May to August 2001 as advance payment.
The regime's "Myanma Agricultural Produce Trading (MAPT)" Department, by coordinating with State banks borrowed some amount of money to farmers and made the contracts with them that they needed to sell paddy to the regime's designated paddy-buying centers after harvest. The farmers had to sign the contracts likely they gave promise to the regime that they must sell the set amount of paddy to the centers.
The authorities forced all farmers in Mon State to take that advance money and to sign the contracts whether they had desire to take money or not. In October and November of paddy-buying season, the authorities planned to buy paddy as early as possible because they needed to make the large amount of paddy to be drought, carry the paddy to the designated paddy-buying centers, store in paddy store and carry to paddy-husking mills and separate the quantified rice for foreign exports and keep the remaining for the domestic use.
To do these various types of work, Mon State authorities also ordered Township authorities to form "Paddy-buying management committee" in every township and Township PDC Chairperson or members of Township PDC must lead that committee.
As an instance,
"When the authorities in
This formation of paddy-buying management committee also shows that when the authorities buy paddy forcibly, the authorities from the various departments have to cooperate each other. For example, Land Registration Department also needs to provide information to paddy-buying centers' managers with the lists of farmer owned how many acre of lands. Similarly, Transport
Administration Department need to assist the managers in carrying paddy to store or to paddy-husking mills.
The committee's objectives are: to successfully buy paddy from farmers; to manage finance safely in all processes; to provide smooth transport of paddy and rice; and to coordinate among the departments which relate to land and crops.
In the preparation of paddy-buying, first the Township's management committee decided to set up paddy-buying centers normally in main village of every village tract. After the paddy-buying centers are designated, the committee also appoints managers and their deputies to manage buying paddy from the farmers. The committee and the managers also informed to village headmen concerned how many baskets of paddy need to be sold from the villages by providing the list of farmers, who need to sell how many baskets of paddy.
When the committee is setting up paddy-buying centers, sometimes, they designate paddy-buying center near paddy-husking mills to be easy to husk paddy to obtain the polished rice. Mosdy as the paddy-husking mills are in towns and when the committee needs to set up paddy-buying centers in villages, they are away from towns and has to manage to transport these crops to husking milk.
Thus, the managers also cut some transport cost from farmers by showing the reason to carry their paddy to the paddy-husking mills.
Before the managers bought paddy from the local farmers, the committee also has to decide the price of paddy. Depending on the quality of the paddy, the price range is from 350 Kyat to 400 Kyat per basket. The committee also instructs the managers to test the paddy to get better quality of the paddy. The committee also provides facilities to test the quality of paddy, to weight the paddy and for other works.
During the managers were buying paddy, they also instructed to village headmen and farmers that they must need to take the contracts along with them to show the managers. By subtracting the advance payment to farmers described in the contract, the managers needed to pay only the remaining amount of money after they calculated the whole amount of money. The committee also instructed that if the farmers sold the under quality paddy, the managers must not accepted. They let the farmers found the qualified paddy to sell the centers.
In some cases, when the farmers could produce only under quality paddy from their farms, they needed to buy qualified paddy from other farmers and sell them to the centers. Although these farmers bought the paddy with 700-900 Kyat per basket from other farmers, but they have to sell it with only 350 Kyat per basket to the centers.
In Mon State, in some Townships, the authorities did not allow the farmers to husk their paddy for rice to get available foods, if they did not complete the duty of selling the complete set amount of paddy to paddy-buying centers. This is one type of pressure used by the authorities in every year, when they tried to buy paddy from farmers.
The processes of forcibly paddy-buying in some Townships in Mon State (of 10 Townships) are described as below:
If compared with other township area, Moulmein Township has
less paddy cultivation area. There are only small numbers of farmers in city
and most farmers are in rural area of the Mon villages in surrounding of the
city. Unlikely to other townships, where there are more farmers,
No. 1 paddy-buying center is called as "Aung-ze-ya-tuu" and the managers from that center have forced the farmers from many villages, such as Kado, Kaw-hnut, Kaw-tun, Kaw-hlar, Kaw-pauk, Kaw-sein and Hlaing; and from two quarters such as Mye-ni-gone and Shwe-myaing-thiri. The manager, U Soe Lwin, leads this paddy-buying cneter and tried to buy about 55, 750 baskets of paddy from 1071 farmers from these villages and town quarters. The authorities, village headmen and managers forced the farmers to sell 10 baskets per acre to the center.
No. 2 paddy-buying center is called "U-be" and the managers from that center have forced the farmers from many town quarters, such as Thi-ri-myaing, Kwe-gone, Say-kyo, San-gyi, Nyan-tay, and many other villages, such as Puu-yaung, Chauk-paing, Pin-ywa and Muu-pun. The manager U Maung Tin leads this paddy-buying center and tried to buy 19,415 baskets of paddy from 566 farmers. In this area, the authorities and managers have forced the farmers to sell their paddy with amount 12 baskets per acre.
No. 3 paddy-buying center is situating in "Pha-ouk" village tract, it is also known as Pha-ouk paddy-buying center. The manager U Mya Than leads the center and he has forced the local farmers from villages such as, Pha-ouk, Kaw-kha-mae, Yo-go, Kya-inn, Kaw-khani and Naung-khaye. The manager tries to buy 67, 308 baskets of paddy from these villages from 1199 farmers. The authorities and managers ordered to farmers to sell 12 baskets of paddy per acre to the center.
Actually, the authorities in Moulmein Township planned to buy about 150,000 baskets of paddy and so they divided into three centers and ordered the managers concerned to buy the set amount of paddy. As the paddy could be reduced after it is drought, so the authorities ordered to buy extra amount of paddy, about 152, 473 baskets from the 3 centers.
The authorities and managers planned to buy these amounts of paddy within 5 months from November 2001 to March 2002. During these months, the authorities also adopted a concrete plan to analyze how many baskets of paddy the managers could buy month by month. The authorities ordered to their 3 managers in three paddy-buying centers to buy 60, 000 baskets during 2 months in 2001 and buy the remaining 90,000 baskets in the first quarter of 2002. To obtain the set amount of paddy, the authorities always coordinated with local village headmen and forced the farmers through them. Sometimes, they also used militia force and went to farmers' houses who failed to complete their duties.
In Moulmein Township, the authorities use about 6 paddy-husking mills including 2 mills belonged to army from Southeast Command and gradually husk the paddy after the centers obtain the paddy from the farmers. The authorities also provide about 50, 000 baskets of paddy to army and keep in the army's stores in Southeast Command and Logistic Infantry No. 525.
In Ye Township, the authorities also created many paddy centers and appointed the managers, who came from other township and let them forced the farmers to sell their paddy at low price.
In Ye Township, the authorities from MAPT department plans to buy about 242,000 baskets of paddy totally from the northern part of township. As the authorities and Burmese Army could not have full control in southern part of Township, they could not expect to get paddy from that area.
In northern part of Ye Township, the authorities set up 13 paddy-buying centers and designated in some big villages, where they could force more farmers to sell their paddy at low price. They created the paddy buying centers in Taung-pyin, Htit-kayin, Sai-gran, Kaw-kwae, War-paw, Duya, Ah-sin, Zee-phu-taung, Lamine, Mor-kanin, Kon-bae, Taung-bon and Kaw-dot village respectively.
In the previous year, although the authorities set up one paddy buying center in one village tract, which cover 5-10 villages but could not force the farmers from all these villages to sell their paddy at low price. However as the villagers are far from one to another, the authorities faced some difficulties to obtain the set amount of paddy and it also took more time. On the other hand, it was very unsafe for the paddy buying authorities or managers to travel from one village to another because of rebel activities.
In this 2001-2002 paddy buying season, Ye Township PDC authorities appointed more managers and created more paddy centers because they tried to get paddy from all farmers in the whole northern part of township area. In buying paddy, the authorities also appointed the managers from another area, who are strangers with farmers and they could force the farmers without failure and hesitate.
As an instance,
When theYeTownship ordered the local farmers to sell their rice in Kaw -dot village, northern part of township, the authorities appointed the managers, who came from Mudon townhip and let them farce the farmers to sell their paddy. The authorities bought the paddy from the local farmers with price 400 Kyat per basket for the good, quality of paddy and 350 Kyat per basket for low quality of paddy. At that time, the paddy in Ye T ownship is about 1000 Kjatper basket. In Kaw-dot paddy buying center alone, the authorities instructed to get 48, 000 baskets of paddy while the farmers have to sell them 8 baskets of paddy per acre to those designated paddy-buying center.
In this township area, although the authorities decided to buy paddy only 8 baskets per acre, however, in some area, where the authorities think there are good cultivated lands, they also ordered the managers in paddy-buying center to buy 10 baskets of paddy from the farmers.
As an instance,
When the authorities set the order to buy 8 baskets of paddy from farmers in most paddy-buying center, the authorities ordered two paddy-buying centers in Lamine andMorkanin village to buy 10 baskets from one acre of land from farmers. Because the authorities think the lands in the are good and could produce more paddy if compared with other area and so that they decided to buy more amounts of paddy from farmers.
After the managers bought the paddy, they also have to bring this paddy toYeTown regularly because they do not want more paddy are being gathered in one place or'they have no available space. When managers carried paddy from the centers to stores inYeTown, they also hired truck and they also take transportation cost from farmers. Depending on how close or far trip from the set paddy-buying center, the managers also cut the transportation cost from the payment that the farmers received from selling paddy. The managers take transportation cost from 13 to 50- Kjatper basket depending on the distance.
From the farmers who have to pay transportation cost to managers received only 300 Kyat after the managers cut 50 Kyat from 350 Kyat per basket they received after selling paddy Even though this is injustice way of taking profit by authorities, the farmers could not find justice in Burma.
C. Chaung-zon Township
In Chaun-zon Township, there is a large rice cultivation farms in the whole island (see in the map of Mon State) and the soil the whole area is too rich. The farmers could produce hundreds of thousands baskets of paddy in this township and the authorities also formed paddy-buying management committee and try to buy many thousands baskets of paddy from farmers.
According to a unconfirmed source, the Township authorities, their paddy-buying management committee and their hand-picked managers in the area have planned to buy about 800,000 baskets of paddy from farmers at low price. The authorities also instructed their paddy-buying centers concerned to buy 15 baskets of paddy from one acre of lands.
As an instance,
Without inquiring which farms could produce how many baskets of paddy per acre, but the authorities have defined to buy 15 baskets of paddy per acre at price 350 Kyatper basket. In this village, although the farms from Kaw -mu-pon village could produce better crop, 70 basket from one acre of land, but other villages' farmers could produce only 45 baskets in average.
While the authorities decided to buy the same amount of paddy from every acre of land, the farmers in many villages felt disappointed with this decision. However they have no choice but to sell the set amount of paddy to the paddy-buying centers.
While there is a price of paddy in the market is about 900-1000 Kyat per basket, the authorities or managers in paddy-buying center paid only 350 Kyat for one basket of paddy to farmers. The farmers, who could produce 45 baskets of paddy from one acre of land in average, remained only 30 baskets of paddy per acre for their own after selling paddy to paddy-buying center. When they sold their paddy to the authorities, they lost about 500-600 Kyat for every basket of paddy.
D. Kyaikmayaw Township
Kyaikmayaw Township does not nave good soil lands for paddy cultivation like Chaung-zon Township, but the authorities have still forced the farmers to sell 6-10 baskets of paddy per acre of lands to the paddy-buying centers set up by Township's "Paddy-buying Management Committee". Depending on the land quality, the authorities also decided the different amount of paddy per acre to sell to the centers.
In this township, the committee set up about 6 paddy- buying center and forced the local farmers to sell their paddy and planned to buy 400, 000 baskets of paddy from the whole Township. In this township, there are 46 villages and all villages have farmers who worked for paddy cultivation.
The 6 paddy-buying centers are: (1) Myo-ma; (2) Tarana; (3) Nyaung-pin-seik; (4) Kadar; (5) Chaung-htit-kwa and (6) Nga-pyay-ma. Myo-ma paddy-buying center planned to buy paddy from 2 town quarters and 12 villages to obtain 108, 900 baskets of paddy from the farmers.
Tarana paddy-buying center planned to buy paddy from farmers in 10 villages nearby to obtain 104, 300 baskets of paddy. Nyaung-pin-seik paddy-buying center planned to buy paddy from farmers in 6 villages in the surrounding area to obtain about 93, 800 baskets of paddy. Kadar paddy-buying center planned to buy paddy from farmers in 4 villages nearby to obtain 29, 500 baskets of paddy Chaung-htit-kwa paddy-buying planned to buy paddy from farmers of six villages to obtain 27,000 baskets of paddy while Nga-pyay-ma paddy-buying center planned to buy 36500 baskets of paddy from farmers from another 6 villages.
In this township, the authorities or managers pay only 350 Kyat per basket of paddy in all paddy-buying centers. The paddy-buying management committee also set up the paddy-buying centers in early November and ordered the managers to force farmers to sell their paddy.
Accordingly to local farmers, as they could sell their paddy in markets at price 700-800 Kyat basket, now they lost about 350-450 Kyat for every basket of paddy If the one farmer, who have about 10 acres of land, sold 100 baskets of paddy to the centers, he lost about 35, 000 - 45, 000 Kyat. This amount of money could support his families to have enough expense for 2-3 months.
In Township, as all farmers need to sell over 40, 000 baskets of paddy, those farmers lose about 16 million Kyat in total. This amount of money is also the profit of the authorities.
In Kyaikmayaw Township, the farmers could produce only about 35-45 baskets of paddy from one acre of land, and after they sold paddy to the centers, they remained only 25-35 baskets of paddy. From this amount of paddy, they have to spend for all their expenses. As the most farmers rely on the only income from selling the paddy, they could get less income to be available for all income.
III. Forced buying of Paddy in Karen State
A. Kawkareik Township
The lands in Kawkareik Township, Karen State have less soil if compared with the lands in some parts of Mon State and the farmers also could produce also less production. In this Township area, most Mon villages are in western part of Township and Karen villages are in eastern part. The Mon villagers who stay along the Gaing River, which flows into Andaman Sea, have livelihood of paddy cultivation and fishing.
Although the crop production is not so high like Mon State, however, the authorities and the paddy-buying management committee concerned have demanded huge amount of paddy from farmers to complete their duties.
The authorities set up about three paddy-buying centers in western part of Township area, where there is populated with Mon people. They also appointed the managers in these three paddy-buying centers to force farmers to sell their paddy at low price. As the Township could produce less amount of paddy, the authorities also use 'small' of paddy-husking mills to husk their paddy bought from the farmers. The farmers who need rice for their families or for sale also husk their paddy in these small paddy-husking mills.
In this Township, the paddy-buying management committee was formed and that committee requires to buy about 180, 000 baskets of paddy from the whole Township, especially in western part of Township area. The authorities also instructed to their managers in paddy-buying centers concerned that to buy the set amount of paddy from November 2001 to February 2002. The managers also have to cooperate village headmen, militia troops and forced the farmers to sell their paddy in time.
However, until early February, 2002, the paddy-buying centers could buy some amount of paddy which is less than the estimated amount and the managers are worrying to get the set amount of paddy Then, the managers applied this problem to the committee to find the ways to obtain the set amount of paddy.
The Committee and authorities believed that the farmers have no willingness to sell their paddy to centers and they would find a way to force farmers to sell their paddy. During the time in January and February, most farmers in the area also husk their paddy to get polished rice to eat in their families and to sell for their income. The authorities and the Committee who knew the situation well have tried to stop from husking their paddy until they could obtain the set amount of paddy, 180000 baskets, from the whole Township area.
In an order dated on February, which Township PDC authorities gave to local village PDC authorities, it described as below:
(All) Town quarter/ village Peace and Development Council (PDC) Kawkareik Township
Subject: To halt the activities of small (Hala) paddy-husking mills
1. During 2001-2002 Year, Kawkarein Township plans to buy 180000 baskets of paddy from the whole township and it also needs to create lawful activities for Hala paddy-husking mills and husking registration under the management of Myanma Agricultural Produce Trading department, and so mat you must stop the activities of all mills in your area (village or town quarter) temporarily from February 7, 2002.
2. Therefore, some equipment (belts and-rollers) must be kept in the nearest police stations and if the village has no police station, the village PDC authorities concerned and the army commanders in the area need to keep them.
Signed by - (Aung Kyaw)
Chairman Kawkareik Township
The above order made a restriction against farmers to not husk their paddy until they could sell the set amount of paddy to the paddy-buying centers. Lawful activity for husking the paddy in the mills meant the mills can only husk the farmers' paddy who completed sold the set amount of paddy to the paddy-buying centers.
During the authorities are halting the husking mills, the individual manager from centers has also forced the local farmers to sell their paddy. As the most parts of Township are in the conflict area and under the semi-control of the regime, the managers or the Township authorities have never known the exact acre of land and could just estimate. Based from this estimation, the managers also decided the amounts of paddy each village has to sell.
As an instance,
In February, 2002, the manager of Karit-kyauk-tan, UKyawOo, came to Kaw-kha-taw village and ordered to village headmen that that village must sell paddy for 1200 acres of land with rate of 5 baskets per acres. The village headmen were surprised when they received the order and complained to the managers that their village bad only 600 acres of land and did not know why the amount of lands has increased. The managers refused and said he got the order from the higher authorities like this and the village headmen and the farmers anyhow needed to sell 6000 baskets of paddy. It also made the farmers to sell 10 baskets per acre to the paddy-buying center at low price. The farmers are very disappointed because the quality of their kinds is not good and they could produce only 20-25 baskets from one acre of land. After they sold to the center with 10 basket per acre, they remained a very less amount of crop with them. If they did not complete selling the paddy, on the other hand, they could not get permission from the authorities to husk their paddy.
Sometimes, the authorities also went around to many villages with militia force (paramilitary) and called meetings with farmers and forced them to sell their paddy before the end of March. If the ones who failed to sell their paddy must be detained.
B. Kya-inn-seikyi Township
Similarly to Kawkareik Township, Kya-inn-seikyi Township does not have good soil lands and the paddy production is also low if compared with Mon State. However, the Township audiorities set up some paddy-buying centers in Kyap-inn-seikyi town and in the surrounding village and forced the farmers to sell their paddy.
In this township area, there are many low-land paddy farms in western part of Township area and the authorities are able to buy paddy from that area because they have more control. The Mon and Karen farmers are every year forced to sell the set amount of paddy to the designated paddy-buying centers.
In this Township, the authorities also planned to buy about 150000 baskets of paddy from the local farmers and appointed managers in paddy-buying centers. However, in the most time, the managers are unable to travel to every area and hold the meetings with local farmers because most parts of the area are in armed conflict situation. Thus, whenever the managers could not buy the set amount of paddy from the farmers, they always reported to the Township authorities and then the authorities and army in the area directly forced the farmers to sell their paddy to the paddy-buying centers.
As an instance,
"On February 18, the Township PDC authorities led by Chairman,
U Thet Naing Oo, and the area tactical commander, Lt.
Col. Aung Kyaw Nyein, went into Tha-gun-daing village and called a meeting with all village headmen
from that village tract and ordered the farmers to sell their paddy before the
end of February. The authorities and
army commander also threatened that if they failed to sell the set amount of
paddy, those farmers must be detained as punishment. "
In an order dated on October 15, 2001, the authorities ordered Kha-le village to sell 10000 baskets of paddy; to Tagun-taing village to sell 8000 baskets of paddy; and to Taung-dee village to sell 5000 baskets of paddy respectively. The deadline for the farmers to sell their paddy is the end of February, accordingly to the authorities and army.
Similarly to the authorities in Kawkareik Township, the authorities and soldiers in this township also have not allowed the farmers, who failed to complete selling the set amount of paddy, to husk their paddy. In diis township, as mentioned above, since the authorities and paddy-buying centers' managers could not go to many villages, where the farmers live, but they ordered the paddy-husking mills to not husk the paddy of the farmers who failed to sell the set amount of paddy instructed by paddy-buying center.
In an order on December 6, 2001, the Chairman of Township PDC, U Thet Naing Oo, ordered to all village headmen in Township, to only the farmers who complete selling paddy to centers, for husking their paddy. In the order, he pointed out that as Township planned to buy paddy, and the centers also instructed to every farmer to sell the paddy. When the farmers completed selling the set amount of money, the managers of MAPT also issue a document that supporting the farmers are completing their duties. Without this supporting document, the authorities would not allow any paddy-husking mills to husk paddy of those farmers. If they husked, the mills would be ordered to stop operating. The severe punishment is the mills would be confiscated.
With this order, the authorities also inform to all village headmen and also sent copied letters to owners of paddy-husking mill in the whole township area. As the mill owners are afraid of their mills are being shut down, they have never husked any paddy of the farmers who do not complete selling the set amount of paddy to the centers.
Normally, in December and January, many farmers wish to husk their paddy because they left less rice at the homes. However, because of the pressure to farmers that they would not be allowed for husking paddy, most farmers have to decide to sell the set amount of paddy to the centers as quick as possible. If not, they would face starvation.
On December 2, 2001, Township Chairman, U Thet Naing Oo, and Tactical Commander Lt. Col. Aung Kyaw Nyein called a meeting with village headmen and instructed them that if some farmers did not have available amount of paddy to sell to the centers, they anyhow needed to buy from other farmers. Then they needed to sell to the centers anyhow said by the authorities.
When some farmers who could produce paddy only for their food supplies are also asked to sell full amount of paddy to the centers. If they have no more paddy to sell, they must buy paddy from other farmers and sell to the centers at low price. After they bought the paddy with 700 Kyat per basket in market, men they have to sell to the centers with price of 350 Kyat per basket.
IV. Paddy-buying in Tenasserim Division
A. Yebyu Township
Unlikely to Mon State, SPDC troops do not full control in
Tenasserim Division and could have not managed like in Mon State to buy the set
amount of paddy. The authorities in Township normally use village headmen,
village militia troops and army battalions to force the farmers to sell
their paddy to the designated paddy-buying centers.
In this Township, the authorities also instructed to the local village headmen and farmers that they needed to sell 10 baskets of paddy per acre to the centers. The price for mat paddy is 350 Kyat per basket paid in the centers while they could sell their paddy 700-800 Kyat in the markets.
In Yebyu Township, there are many paddy farms in the plain area along the seacoast and the Mon and Tavoyan farmers in that area have been constantly forced by the authorities and army battalions to sell their paddy. As many battalions of the Burmese army are taking patrol in the area, so that these battalions have ordered the farmers from various villages to sell their paddy.
Because of security or the possible attack by the rebel armies in the surrounding area, the authorities and army commanders could not set up many paddy-buying centers. They set up only in the village tract where they could provide enough security to protect. Thus, the farmers from many other village tracts have to go and sell their paddy in the designated paddy-buying center by traveling a long distance.
In this 2001-2002 paddy-buying season, the authorities set up only one paddy-buying center in Kye-thone-nyima village in that village tract and forced the farmers from other three village tracts, such as Mintha, Gandaw and Ohn-pin-gwin, to sell their paddy to the centers.
The authorities and managers of paddy-buying centers planned to buy 12800 baskets of paddy from Mintha village tract, which comprised of Ye-ngan-gyi (500 baskets), Sin-swe (800 baskets), Chattaw (1500 baskets), Hmaw-gyi (3500 baskets), Legyi (3500 baskets) and Singu (3000 baskets).
That paddy-buying center also instructed Gan-daw village tract to sell 23,000 baskets of paddy. As the village tract has only two villages, East Gan-daw village's farmers have to sell 8, 000 baskets of paddy and West Gan-daw village's farmers have to sell 15, 000 baskets respectively. These two villages are big villages and more farmers live if compared with other villages.
Additionally, the center managers also ordered Ohn-pin-gwin village tract to sell about 3000 baskets of paddy to the center. In that village tract, only two villages, Talaing-myaw and Thingun-kyun and the farmers have to sell 1500 baskets of paddy from each village. The authorities and army commanders did not force other farmers from Ohn-pin-gwin village tract because the site is too close to foreigners who worked in Yadana gas station in Kanbauk area.
As many villages are far from the village in where the paddy-buying center is situating, and difficulties in transport, the farmers have to send their paddy by oxen-carts and by boats to reach the center. The farmers themselves have to pay for transport cost and so that they remained less money after selling paddy.
According to a farmer from Legyi village,
"We used oxen carts and then boats to send our paddy to paddy-buying center in Kywe-tho-nyima village. We have to pay for oxen-carts, boat and labour cost for 100 Kyat per basket of paddy.
When we arrived to paddy- buying center, the managers paid us 350 Kyat per basket. Actually, we left only 250 Kyat for one basket. If we sold our paddy in our village to traders we obtain 700 Kyat per basket of paddy."
As an instance,
"In February, 2002, with the order by a local battalion, LIB No. 273, the army and village militia troops requested 2280 baskets from Mintha village tract of six villages for their foods. They included in the order that Te-ngan-gyi village has to provide 230 baskets; Sin-swe village has to provide 250 baskets; Chattaw village has to provide 300 baskets; Le-gyi village has to provide 500 baskets; and Singu-village has to provide 500 village respectively without payment."
In this case, the village headmen from these village have to collect the requested amount of paddy and sent to Mintha village, where the LIB No. 273 and militia troops are taking base. The authorities or the soldiers would not pay any money for this amount of paddy.
In the existing laws in Burma, all lands are belonged to State and actually the farmers are permitted to cultivate to grow paddy by the State. Actually, the farmers in Burma are the labourers of the State and they have to work for the State. The farmers who produce the paddy crops need to sell the regime at low price, of 25-50% of their the total produced crops.
In paddy cultivation, the farmers have to spend various types of expenses during the time from ploughing their lands until harvest which takes about 8 months. During this period, the farmers have to spend a lot of money to hire labourers in planting the seeds, buying fertilizers, (some farmers) paying for hired oxen or water buffaloes, paying labour cost in reaping the paddy grains and other transport costs. To get these amounts of money for various expenses, the farmers have to sell their paddy, which remained after selling the centers.
Considerably, the farmers could not save money at all. Most farmers have to borrow money when the cultivation started in June and pay it back when they obtain crops. The interest rate is normally high. Accordingly to a local word, "the farmers are always deepened in muddy pool of credit and poverty".