News, Personal Accounts, Report & Analysis on Human Rights Situation in Mon Territory and Other Areas Southern Part of Burma
The Mon Forum
Issue No. 4/2002
April 30, 2002
The Publication of Human Rights Foundation of Monland (BURMA)
(1) More land confiscation by MOMC No. 19 for Artillery Regiment,
(2) Looting by Burmese Army and SPDC authorities,
(3) Deep corruption in village PDC authorities,
(4) The establishment of a Mon national school was barred,
SPDC and DKBA's human rights violations in Brief:
(1) Burmese Army's constant requisition of forced labour
Some Acronyms in This Issue
SLORC- State Law and Order Restoration Council,
SPDC- State Peace and
IB - Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
LIB- Light Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
MOMC- Military Operation
Management Command (of Burmese Army),
NMSP- New Mon State Party,
KNLA- Karen National Liberation Army,
More Land Confiscation by MOMC No. 19 for Artillery Regiment
2002, Ye Township, Mon State)
In April, with a purpose to deploy a new artillery regiment in the northern part of Ye Township, SPDCs MOMC No. 19 commander, Brigadier Ye Win, confiscated another 300 acres of land between San-pya and Done-phi villages.
These 300 acres of lands were owned by 30 families from both villages and most of land owners were Karen villagers from San-pya village and a few number were Mon villagers from Done-phi village. Most of the lands are grown with rubber trees, betel-nut and other fruit trees. The estimation cost of the lands and trees is about 30 million Kyat estimated by the local villagers.
In second week of April, Brigadier Ye Win, the commander of MOMC No. 19 came to San-pya village and called a meeting with villagers who owned the lands between these two villages along the motor road. The commander explained to the villagers that they need to confiscate lands to deploy new artillery regiment and then he forced ail land owners to sign a document that these lands were not theirs. It meant there were no owners for these lands and so that MOMC No. 19 had chance to take them.
"As I know, the MOMC No. 19 would deploy only 10 military battalions and they already confiscated many acres of land. Now, they said they confiscated lands for artillery regiment. Most lands are owned by our Karen villagers. My land and crop trees plantation costs about 4 million Kyat and they took it without giving any one Kyat. Many other plantations have more costs than mines. Nobody get any compensation costs." said by a Karen villager from San-pya.
"The commander told us these lands are owned by government. We are only the owners of the trees in these lands and we do not own the lands at all. However, he said, after the lands are taken by government, we also lost the chance to harvest our crops in there." added by that villager.
One Karen villager, who is about 60 years old said, "I owned two spaces of land in that area. Now, the Burmese Army confiscated both spaces. I left nothing to eat. My children cried when they heard the bad news. We had no food more. Only my son, who is a (Buddhist) monk, has fed our family with small amount of foods."
Most of the lands were registered by the town ship land registration department and these lands are not ion forestry area said by the villagers. "They (the commanders) said these lands are theirs. I am surprised. We paid tax to the Township office every year and the lands are also registered. They can show any reason what they like to take these lands" added by a dissatisfied villager.
In 2001, to deploy a new military command, MOMC No. 19 and its 10 military battalions, the Burmese Army confiscated about 2000 acres of lands including about 1000 acres, which were owned by many Mon civilians in Ye Township. These lands were also grown with rubber and fruit trees. Many villagers suddenly lost their lands and never received any compensation cost by the regime or Burmese Army.
After land confiscation, the villagers from the areas nearby were also again forced to construct the military barracks and other infrastructure for these new battalions. Then they also have to pay irregular and unfair tax to those military battalions.
During these military battalions launched the military operations in the area to attack against the Mon splinter groups and KNLA troops, some local farmers or plantation workers were also killed, tortured and some women raped with accusation of rebel-sympathizers. The battalions also made a movement restriction against the civilians in the area, who have been totally dependent on their fruit plantations.
Looting by Burmese Army and SPDC Authorities
(April 2002, Kya-inn-seikyi and Kawkareik Townships, Karen State)
On the first week of April, when a military column of LIB No. 354 troops launched a military operation around in the rural area of Kya-inn-seikyi Township, they also confiscated wooden lumbers owned by villagers and levied payment from saw mill owners in the area.
On April 6, 2002, when they arrived into Win-yaw-seikyi village, they arrested one saw (hand-saw) owner, Nai Myat (32 years old Mon man), and threatened to confiscate all his lumbers kept in his house. Although the Mon man explained that he got permission from Township to saw woods and produce lumbers, but they still tried to take his woods. After the discussion by the headmen, they agreed to take 30, 000 Kyat as ransom and did not take his lumbers.
On the next day, they also found some lumbers in river bank (Zami river) and inquired the owners of lumbers. But as the people were afraid of being arrested, the lumber owners did not show up and kept silence. Then, the commander took ten oxen-carts from Mi-pran village and confiscated all these lumbers without giving any reasons. They ordered the oxen-carts to carry these lumbers to Taung-dee village, which is about 4 miles long, from the place they seized the lumbers.
For loading up and down of lumbers and the transport with oxen-carts, they did not pay any money to villagers from Taung-dee village, said by a farmer. "When the Burmese Army arrived into our rural area, they have all power and authority to mistreat the people. These lumber owners have very little income to feed their family and now they took all their things", added by that farmer.
But in Kawkareik Township of Karen State, Township PDC
authorities themselves confiscated civilians' owned lumber sawing mills and
lumbers in their Township. On
These villagers lost nearly 3 million Kyat for their mills, equipment and lumbers. After confiscation, they gathered in the Village PDC office for several days and then carried back to Kawkareik Town on March 13, 2002, accordingly to the local source.
Deep Corruption in Village PDC authorities
(April, 2002, Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State)
In the second week of March, the Village PDC Chairman, Nai Poe Sein and his two secretaries, Nai Hla Htun and Nai San Nuu explained to the villagers that accordingly to the instruction by Township PDC, their village needed to buy a fire truck and to provide payment, 5000 Kyat per household.
Although the villagers did not satisfy for the collection of this fund, however they could not complain because these village authorities are too close to Township PDC Chairman, Col. Thaw Zin, said by a villager.
The village authorities ordered to complete gathering of the money within three days. Many poor families faced a lot of difficult to get this amount of money in limited time. As the village has about 1250 households, the authorities received about 6. 25 million Kyat fund from the civilians.
On March 22, these three authorities also went to Moulmein and met with Col. Thaw Zin. Then they went to Rangoon for 5 days and returned to the village. Until the end of April, the village still do not see any fire truck belonged to their village. They also suspected these village authorities would take their money without accountability.
Again, in April 2002, the authorities also collected 3 baskets of paddy from every household for the wages of the village militiamen. The village has only 10 militiamen and according the rule, each militiaman would receive 100 baskets of paddy as their salary.
When the village authorities collected 3 baskets of paddy per household, they received about 3750 baskets of paddy from 1250 households in the village.
Then they gave to 10 militiamen with 1000 baskets of paddy for their salary for the whole year and took the remaining amount of paddy. Then they brought them to Moulmein and sold to paddy-husking mills, with 1200 Kyat per basket, said by another villager. They would receive about 4 million Kyat money and would share among three of them.
The villagers added that they would also bribed District and Township PDC authorities to keep them in the positions. They have remained in power for over 8 years and when they first became as Village PDC authorities, they also needed to bribe Col. Thaw Zin, with 800, 000 Kyat. Later they also regular bribed him, said by the villagers.
Since SLORC/SPDC came into power in 1988, there was no election to elect low level village leaders except in the areas control by rebel armed force. The SPDC authorities just appointed their supporters or who bribed them to be village chairmen or committee members.
The establishment of Mon National School was barred
(March 2002, Ye Township)
In March 2002, when the committee for the Establishment of National School in Morkanin village, Ye Township, planned to build a primary school in the village, by the support of Mon Buddhist monks and community people, it is barred by VPDC (Village Peace and Development Council).
To build this school, two Mon monastery in the village donated one space of land since 2000, but the land was later confiscated by Brigadier Gen. Thiha Thura Sit Maung, the former Commander-in-Chief of Southeast Military Command, based in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State. At that time, he also barred the establishment of this school. Later, he died in helicopter crashes.
Now, the committee for the Establishment of the school planned to build school again, as they thought they could do. However they were stopped by VPDC Chairman.
The Mon people are intending to build Mon national school, in many parts of Mon State, to provide education to their children in Mon language as a main language and other subjects. The curriculum is provided by Mon National Education Committee sponsored by News Mon State Party.
SPDC and DKBA's Human Rights Violations in Brief
* Unfair Tax
Tax for Tatmadaw Day (March 2002, Mon State)
To celebrate 57th Anniversary Armed Force (Tatmadaw) Day on March 27 in the hall of Southeast Command in Moulmein, Mon State, the authorities in every Township are requested to provide fund for the celebration.
In Mudon Township, every village was asked to provide fund for the ceremony. Depending on the household numbers, the demanded fund is from 3000 Kyat to 15000 Kyat for each village.
For example, three Mon villages in Township, Kwan-hlar village had to pay 7500 Kyat; Yaung-daung village had to pay 4500 Kyat; and Hnee-pa-daw had to pay 11000 Kyat respectively. Many other villages also have to pay like these villages.
In Mudon Township alone, the authorities collected about 250, 000 Kyat from 45 villages in Township. Southeast Command requested 2 million Kyat from 10 Townships in Mon State for this ceremony.
Tax under the name of rural development
(February 2002, Ye Township)
In order by Township authorities to get enough water in Taung-pyin village, Ye Township, the village authorities collected fund from the civilians to dig a village wed and to build a concrete container.
household. As the village has about 1500 households, they got 1.05 million Kyat. Similarly, on March 30, with a purpose to keep water, they planned to build a concrete container. So that the village authorities collected 1000 Kyat from every household and received another 1.5 million Kyat from the villagers.
This amount of money was too much and two times of the total. requirement, and so they would not use it all but would share among them', said by a villager from that
village. Most village authorities also did not have to report for their use of money in such development activities and 'no need for the accountability' for any money they have collected from the civilians.
After the village authorities received water and then kept in containers and then they also sold to the villagers again. Many villagers did not satisfy for the misuse of the authorities, but could not complain against them.
Unfair tax and corruption (Ye Township, Mon State)
On March 31, the village chairman from Hangan village collected one basket of paddy from each household to provide the village militiamen. The Village PDC chairman Nai Khin Maung Thaung collected 1250 baskets of paddy from the whole village, because the villages have about 1250 households.
After paddy collection, the chairman and his committee gave only 400 baskets of paddy to four members of militiamen in the village. They remained 850 baskets of paddy at their hands. Although the villagers suggested to sell the remaining amount of paddy for fund to construct a school in village, however, the chairman and committees refused.
At the end, they sold all paddy at price, 1500 Kyat per basket. They did not make any accountability for this money and just shared among them. Many villagers believed they would also shared this money to Ye Township authorities, because they exactly knew the collaboration between the village authorities and Township authori-
* Forced purchase of paddy
Army's involvement forced buying of paddy
(February 2002, Kya-inn-seikyi Township, Karen State)
In an order dated on February 3, 2002, a commander from LIB No. 354 that bases in Taung-dee village, Kya-inn-seikyi Township sent the order to a village in Tagundaing village tract, to sell their their paddy as quick as possible.
In order, he asked the headmen that they must report the amount of paddy (in baskets) their villagers needed to sell to paddy-buying center in Tagun-daing village, the amounts of paddy they already sold and to immediately sell the remaining amount of paddy. He also asked the chairman of village headmen to come and meet him on February 5, for reporting the progress of selling paddy crops.
Similarly, on January 20, a Tactical commander from IB No. 31, Lt. Col. Aung Kyaw Nyein, cooperated with Township PDC Chairman, U Thet Naing Oo, went into Htee-paukhlo village, Kya-inn-seikyi Township and forced the farmers to sell 3,000 baskets of paddy to a paddy-buying center set in Kya-inn-seikyi Town. Then, they also went to Kyauk-pone village and forced the farmers to sell 1650 baskets of paddy to the paddy-buying center.
Arrest of farmers for failure of selling paddy
Township, Karen State)
At night time of March 16, Township PDC General Secretary, U Aung Lin and 4 policemen entered into Kaw-bein village and arrested 17 farmers and forced them to completely sold the remaining paddy to the village paddy-buying center set by the authorities.
The reason of the arrest was these farmers failed to sell paddy and gave wrong the number of acres in their lands. After arrest, the authorities forced them to sell another 20 baskets of paddy more for another acre of land. The authorities set to the farmers to sell 10 baskets per acre of land.
At that night, they also asked the promise of that farmers that they would sell the remaining paddy-buying center.
Shooting at a Mon woman (Ye Township, Mon State)
On January 16, when LIB No. 587 troops led by Maj. Soe Min Htun, were taking patrol in Thaung-pyin village, Ye Township, one of their soldiers suddenly shot at a 50 years old woman, Mi Sae, when she went to monastery for food donation.
After she got serious injury, she was sent to Ye hospital. However, the commander of LIB No. 587 still refused that their man was not the person who shot at the woman when the village leaders inquired about the case. They also refused to pay for the hospital cost. As the monks from the monastery saw about the shooting during the incident, at the end, they could not refuse, but paid some hospital cost.
There are some other cases about shooting in Ye Township.
On October 25, when the troops of LIB No. 588 operated a military patrol in eastern part of Township, they also shot at Nai Lae (40 years old) from Morkanin village and he was treated at hospital. However, the commanders of that battalion did not pay any hospital cost.
In many cases, when the troops from the battalions under the command of MOMC. No. 19 went around in the forests and fruit plantations in eastern part of motor road, they often made mistake shooting to villagers as they thought the rebel soldiers are taking bases in forests or plantations. Some were also killed, because of mistake shooting against farmers.
DKBA soldiers tortured a Muslim man
(Kya-inn-seikyi Township, Karen State)
On February 12, a group of DKBA soldiers led by Nga Kywe, went into Tagundaing village and beat a Muslim farmer, U Ra Dhi (50 years) who stayed outside of the village. Because of severe beating, he was also sent to hospital in town for treatment. This man was innocent and not a Muslim leader.
DKBA, most of their members are Buddhists, have some hate sentiment against Muslim communities in Karen State and always tried to make oppression against them.
DKBA is under the command of the Burmese Army and have lots
of authority in
DKBA soldiers tortured a Mon woman
(Kawkareik Township, Karen State)
The DKBA soldiers arrested her with accusation that her son was a trafficker for migrant workers into Thailand and failed to send some Karen migrant workers, who were the relatives to DKBA soldiers. She even did not know whether her son was a trafficker or not, as he left from home for several months. But they still accused her son took money from Karen migrant workers and did not bring them to the designated work places in Thailand. They accused her son also took the money already and failed to complete his duty to send in the migrant workers.
Then, she was severely tortured. Then they requested her to give them 700,000 Kyat ransom for her release. After her relatives paid that amount of money, they released her.
Burmese Army's Constant Requisition of Forced Labour
I. Uncased Conflict in southern part of Burma
During the current military regime, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), is implementing the militarized program in the southern part of Burma, it has deployed many military commands and battalions with a main objective to uproot the rebellious activities of the main Karen armed opposition, Karen National Union (KNU), and its military faction, Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA).
For many decades, KNU and the Mon political armed group, New Mon State Party (NMSP) have waged war against the central governments in Rangoon for the equal racial rights as the main armed organizations in the southern part of Burma. NMSP reached an agreement for ceasefire in 1995 without a political discussion, while the KNU and KNLA have fought on against the regime because it wants the political negotiation after there is a ceasefire agreement.
However, the regime has no willingness for the political talk with even the ethnic ceasefire groups like NMSP and just protracted the time year by year. At the same time, after ceasefire, the regime also has more opportunities to deploy more of their troops in Mon areas and other area southern part of Burma.
Additionally, the several battalions of Burmese Army (now, it is called
Later, some Mon veteran resistant soldiers' also took arms and revolted against the Burmese Army or MAF after two years of ceasefire, because of the regime's constant mistreatment and human rights violations against the Mon people in rural areas. After that rebellion, the Burmese Army has taken more chance to deploy more troops in Mon State. In year 2001, with a purpose to deploy a military command, MOMC No. 19 and many battalions under its command, the Burmese Army confiscated about one thousand of lands from Mon people in Ye Township.
This made much dissatisfaction among the Mon people and one MNLA commander, Col. Pan Nyunt, and his 80 men also split out form the main MNLA and declared to resume fighting against the regime. Since then, the Burmese Army has intensified its military offensives against both KNLA and the Mon splinter armed groups.
II. Burmese Army's Two
The Burmese Army or MAF or Tatmadaw has not only one activity for operating the military offensives against the rebel armed forces to uproot their rebellious activities, but the Army also has another responsibility to be the leaders in administration or the main implementers for various development projects in the whole country.
After SLORC seized the political power from the pro-demonstrators in 1988, the regime appointed all military commanders as State and Division LORC Chairman and similarly the SPDC, which changed its name from SLORC, also has appointed the military commanders in all important positions. The military commanders in one specific area or in the military divisions or commands are also appointed as State/ Division PDC Chairman and all members of the SPDC District/Township Chairman are the military commanders. Thus, these military commanders have both responsibilities not only to involve in the administration, but also have to manage for the military affairs.
For example, the current Command-in-Chief of Southeast Military Command, which bases in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, is also appointed as the Chairman of Mon State PDC. He has main responsibility not only to operate the military offensives against rebellion in Mon State and Karen State, but also he has another responsibility to manage administration for all affairs in the whole Mon State. Similarly, the General Secretary of Mon State PDC is Col. Aung Maw Maw and he has both responsibility for administration for Moulmein District and operating the military operations mainly in Moulmein District.
Naturally, since these commanders has responsibility in administration affairs, they normally select their subordinated military commanders rather than the educated people in the several administration activities and development programs. They also appointed the commanders or retired commanders to be Township PDC Chairman. Even the Chairman of Village PDC, they also tried to appoint their retired soldiers or low-rank commanders to get the position.
Additionally, when they planned to implement development project, the Mon State PDC authorities always ordered the military
commands or battalions concerned to take responsibility for all management. Similarly, when they planned to launch the military offensives against the rebels in the conflict rural areas, they also ordered these commanders to operate military activities.
As the commanders of Burmese Army have many responsibilities to both launch offensives and involve in the administration activities and management for development projects, they have demanded the unpaid labour from the civilians to be in porter service and labour contribution in development projects.
As the regime could not provide the better and modern logistic system, the local Burmese Army's local battalions have demanded many porters during their offensives to carry their ammunitions and food supplies to use for several days in forest and jungles.
As the regime has not had enough budgets to provide for the development projects: such as construction of railway road, motor road, bridge, dam and dyke and other infrastructure; building of school, clinic and hospital, library and creating of army's paddy farms, shrimp farms and fruit plantations; the commanders have constantly forced the local civilians concerned to contribute unpaid labour.
III. Army's Involvement in Development Project and Use of Forced Labour
Like the order in the army, whenever the soldiers or low-rank commanders received the order for their higher commands, they always tried to find the ways to complete their duties. Similarly, when the Southeast Command bases in Moulmein gives order to the local military battalions or commanders to implement a development project with a deadline, they are always trying to complete their duties and to overcome all difficulties. If they did not have enough budget for the projects to implement, they would collect fund from the civilians and would try to get enough budget during the implementation. Similarly, if they did not have enough labour, they would force the local villagers to contribute labour, but they would not pay them, because they did not have money for payment.
Before the end of 2001 and early 2002, the Mon State PDC authorities also implemented various types of development projects, such as road construction, dam construction and others. Normally, the Chairman of Mon State PDC directly ordered the commanders of local military battalions or commands concerned to implement these projects.
When they implemented a development project, the Mon State PDC authorities could provide only small amount of budget to the local military battalions, but just ordered them to implement as "self-help program" which means to collect fund from the civilians. In most time, their budgets are not enough not only for the implementation of development projects, but also even to feed the soldiers who are guarding the project sites.
Therefore, the local military commanders or soldiers forced the local civilians to provide some fund for the projects and in most cases they also forced them to contribute labour. There are many evidences that the local military battalions in Mon State and Karen State have involved in the conscription of forced labour in the recent months.
In January and February 2002, when the Mon State PDC authorities planned to build the road from Kyaikmayaw to Chaung-htit-kwa, which is situating in the same township area, they also ordered IB No. 208 led by Col. Nyunt Win to guard the road and to help implementing with the local construction authorities. This motor road was built during Japanese era in WWII and most parts are destroyed. So Mon State PDC authorities tried to rebuild it again.
According to the villagers, the Chairman of Mon State PDC or the Commander-in-Chief of Southeast Command visited to Kyaikmayaw Township in December 2002 and instructed to the Township authorities that they must rebuild this motor road.
He announced that Mon State PDC authorities planned to develop this new road and supplied stock such as rock and other machinery equipment and he instructed that the villagers must do volunteer works for the project.
This Kyaikmayaw-Chaung-htit-kwa motor road is about 37 miles long and it connects the town and a border village, with Karen State. Recently in January, the LIB No. 208 commander and the local authorities forced 120 villagers every day to work in the construction. The soldiers guarded along the road to watch while the villagers were working there.
In February, the commander increased conscription of the number of villagers from the villages, which are situating along the motor road. The soldiers and village authorities in the areas increased the number of conscripts from 120 to 150 villagers. They conscripted the villagers from many Mon villages, such as Tarana, Kaw-hlein, Kaw-ha-laight, Kyaik-paran, Kyon-wan, Kaw-don, Kaw-panaw, Ka-don-si, Wae-pa-ngae and many other villages on the motor road had been forced to contribute labour.
The villagers who were forced to work in the construction said, despite the regime provides a bulldozer for the construction, no one see the machine was being used and they believed the required gasoline for the machine was not provided. However, instead of using machine, Col. Nyunt Win ordered the villagers to work by hand.
The villagers added they were not only forced to work in the construction, the commander also forced them to take the security for the bulldozer, machinery and construction equipment to protect from steeling of equipment or attack by the rebel soldiers. If man is not available, a woman had to replace him when the roster is due to his duty.
Women and children were also forced to work for the project while it was against their wills, when the men did not have free time to work in the construction.
Besides the villagers were forced to work in the construction, the authorities and Col. Nyunt Win collected 5000 Kyat per household from the above mentioned villages along the motor road, to buy rocks, tar and other construction material, and to buy foods to feed soldiers, who were taking security along the road.
In most development projects, the authorities and army always claimed that these projects would make profit for the civilians and so that they must need to contribute in the construction.
In the period from mid-December 2001 until February, IB No. 106 that bases in Morkanin village and Ye Township PDC authorities built a dyke to keep water by closing a stream, called Mee-laung-chaung. In this dyke construction, as the army and authorities claimed the dyke would provide water for the villagers, so they needed villagers to contribute labour for the construction.
The army and authorities planned to build this dyke with 80 feet in length, 14 feet in height and 10 feet width embankment because tey fixed the water doors. To build the embankment, they forced the villagers from Morkanin village to contribute their labour.
According to the source, although IB No. 106 and the authorities received 10 million Kyat for the construction of the dyke and concrete water doors to hire labourers, but forced the villagers instead.
As a recognition of welcoming Armed Force Day, which was held on March 27, MOMC No. 19 Commander held the opening ceremony for the dyke and water doors on March 25.
In the most construction works, the villagers are forced to work in the appalling conditions. Most works are hard works, as the army commanders and authorities have less used machinery. Additionally, the villagers have to bring foods from their homes, even though they are working for the regime's development projects.
IV. Use of Forced Labour in Battalions' Works
During the Burmese Army newly deploy the military battalions in the rural areas, the commanders of these battalions have constantly forced the civilians to contribute labour in clearing lands, leveling grounds, constructing the military barracks, bunkers and trenches, and making fences. When the battalion commanders forced the villagers to contribute labour, they have not only forced the villagers from one village, but forced from many villages.
After the deployment of the battalions and construction of the required bases, the commanders continuously force the civilians, to regular dear the grasses, to grow vegetables in gardens, to make charcoal, to collect firewood and even to cook in their bases.
As the demand of labour have taken roots for several years among the Burmese Army's battalions, it became as a common practice for army commanders and soldiers. Whenever they have to do sometimes, they always try to find the villagers to do instead. Even for the case of daily cooking in the battalion base, although the soldiers or wives of soldiers could do that, however, they still force the villagers to cook for them.
Some evidence for the use of forced labour in the battalions' works are as below: ^
In April, 2002, a military battalion in Kya-inn-seikyi Township, Karen State, LIB No. 354, which bases near Taung-dee village have requested 10 villagers every day to work in their battalions. The works were not constant. Depending on the decisions of battalion commander, Lt. Col. Kyaw Soe, the works in the battalion base varied.
The commander conscripted 10 villagers every day to do the works in the base. Normally the soldiers forced these villagers to rebuild their barracks, to make secured fence and other works. The village headmen from 11 villages nearby, Taung-dee, Kha-won, Pha-pya, Myaing-gone, Talaing-gone, Nong-plein, Maw-lon-daing, Myit-tar-yar, Win-taung, Nong-khu and Law-shan. The village headmen from have to manage to send 10 villagers when due arrive to their village. So that every 11 days, one village has to send 10 villagers to army base.
On April 4, 2002, the commander of LIB No. 586 bases in northern part of Ye Township, Lt. Col. Ngwe Soe, ordered the villagers from Kyone-paw village to contribute labour in clearing lands in his battalion base. In his order, he asked one villager from every household must come and work in the base. He also warned if someone failed to come, he/she must be punished.
When the villagers came and worked on that day, they also brought their own food and tools. They were ordered to work from early morning to late evening, except were allowed to take lunch for half an hour.
In January, 2002, when LIB No. 591 and No. 583 that base in eastern part of Ye Township planned to build a motor road from Ye Town to Kyaung-ywa village, they also ordered the village headmen to provide them 3 oxen-carts and 3 cart drivers to carry stones from the Ye river to the road.
The soldiers from these two battalions collected stones in the river and the villagers had to buy these stones for the road construction. So that the villagers also had to pay for all costs of the stones. Additionally, they forced 3 oxen-carts and 3 drivers every week and needed to carry stones for 7 days. After 7 days, they were also replaced with another 3 oxen-carts. But they did not pay the labour cost to those carts and drivers for one-week works.
Sometimes, these battalions also conscripted the trucks from Ye town and forced them to carry stones without payment. Although the villagers from the whole village were not forced to do construction or to collect stones, each household in Kyaung-ywa village had to provide 2000 Kyat payment fund to the authorities every month.
From January 11 to January 15, 2002, LIB No. 547, which bases near Kyon-doe village, Kawkareik Township, Karen State, also forced the villagers from three villages near the base, to clear grasses, bushes and small trees in the surrounding of their base. The villagers who were forced to work in these works were from (1) Doe-Ian, (2) Kaw-tar, and (3) Kwan-poe villages.
As the battalion commander was afraid of being attacked by the rebel soldiers, they forced the villagers to clear outside of their base and rebuild the fences round the base.
On November 10, 2001 the Burmese Army's LIB No. 538 based in Phaya-ngote-to village, Kya-innseikyi township, Karen State, conscripted 45 villagers from Taung-dee village; 45 villagers from Kha-won village and 45 villagers from Kyauk-paya village to build their military barracks and did some works in battalion headquarters.
In these military battalions, they also created paddy farms, shrimp farms, some fruit and rubber plantations their battalion regular income. Sometimes, they also forced the villagers nearby to work in these activities without any payment. (See in The Man Forum Issue No. 3/2002)
V. Forced Labour in Burmese Army's Porter Service
As the regime has not developed or modernized its military logistic system, the use of civilian porters in the frontlines of civil war is still an on-going situation. Depending on the scales of offensives, massive or minor, operated by the troops of Burmese Army's tactical commands concerned the conscripted number of civilian porters are varied. The most offensives occur after the end of rainy season and the soldiers arrested the villagers from many parts of rural areas and brought them several weeks, or even 2 to 3 months along with them.
In this type of porter service, the villager porters are forced to walk along with troops of Burmese Army by carrying heavy loads of ammunitions, mortor shells or food supplies. Such these porters could be killed in frontline by stepping on land-mine or when the fighting happens between the Burmese and rebel armed groups. They are also not fed with sufficient foods and most of them could suffer from dangerous diseases such as malaria, diarrhea and other diseases, while they are in jungles.
There have been some evidence in the recent months how the local battalions under the command of Southeast Command have used porters in offensive.
For over five weeks since the last week of March 2002, when IB No. 61 troops and a company of Military Engineering built a rough motor road from Ye to Three-Pagoda Pass (see in the map), which is about 50 miles long, the 100 troops of IB No. 61 led by Lt. Col. Win Nyunt took inner security to protect two bulldozers and other machinery and engineering members and construction workers.
At the same time, about 60 troops of IB No. 106, led by Col. Aung Lwin also took outer security to clear the areas. Although IB No. 61 did not take porters, but IB No. 106 troops 42 porters along with them.
In clearing the area, to protect the possible attack to their construction activity, IB No. 106 troops also have to launch offensives against KNLA and Mon splinter troops in the area outside of the road. For five weeks during the offensives, these porters are constantly used to carry ammunitions, mortor shells and food supplies for soldiers and traveled in dangerous area along the border in where the rebel groups also planted land-mines.
They were not allowed to return homes or to be replaced with other porters because they went into the area where there was no village or conflict area. They could get sufficient foods from the soldiers and could not have enough sleep said by an escaped porter.
"We climbed many mountains and sometimes we walked along the streams. Within one day, we had to walk for over 12 hours. We are too tired. Two porters got serious sick (malaria) and when they arrived near one Mon village, the soldiers left them behind." added by that escaped porter.
In the normal military patrol in one specific area to
protect the rebels' activities, the troops of the local military battalions
always walked around in the area where they have to take security, and forced
the villagers in the areas to be porters for short days. The commanders also
ordered the village headmen concerned to arrange for providing the porters for
their military columns on a rotation basis among the villagers.
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 boot and then they left him behind 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.
Again, in March and April, when LIB No. 299 troops led by the battalion commander, Col. Aye Tun, operated the military patrol in the southern part of Ye Township area, they also conscripted many villagers as porters without payment.
LIB No. 299 also ordered to the village headmen in Singu, a village in the southern part of Ye Township, to arrange the villagers to be ready to provide them as regular basis when they arrived into the village. The headman also have to arrange for the rotation basis and put some villagers for ready in the village and when the troops arrived to their village, they provide them with porters. But these village porters are never paid by Burmese Army.
On March 19, when LIB No. 299 troops arrived into Sin-gu village about 4:00 p.m. in the evening, they also took four Mon villagers: (1) Nai Oo - 29 years old; (2) Nai Myint Htwe - 35 years old; (3) Nai Tun Kyin - 32 years old; and (4) Nai Saw Win - 20 years old and forced them to carry ammunitions. They were taken by LIB No. 299 for two days and were also used as human-shields.
They were forced to walk in advance and the soldiers stayed at behind when they went into forests and climbed the mountains.
Then, after the military patrol, LIB No. 299 troops also came back to Singu village on March 22, and asked another four porters again. The village headmen provided another four villagers: (1) Nai Shaung - 40 years old; (2) Nai Blai - 30 years old; (3) Nai Ta Mort - 21 years old; and (4) Nai Hote Lun - 24 years old; to LIB No. 299 troops. They were taken as porters for one day and then the soldiers released them.
Continuously, on March 23 and asked another four porters. The village headmen also have to provide four villagers and they were: (1) Nai Tun Kyaw - 23 years old; (2) Nai Wee - 50 years old; (3) Nai Naing - 29 years old; and (4) Nai Aung Zein - 60 years. The soldiers took these villagers for another 3 days and then they released them after they received porters from another villages.
Again, on April 1, 2002, this battalion arrived to Singu village again and asked another 4 villagers for porters. The village chairman provided them with four porters and they were: (1) Nai Kyaw Tin - 28 years old; (2) Nai Ah Hmaw - 18 years old; (3) Nai Baw - 35 years old; and (4) Nai Aung Myint - 40 years old. The soldiers forced Nai Kyaw Tin to carry one basket of rice (about 33 kilograms weight), forced Nai Ah Hmaw and Nai_ Baw to carry ammunitions and some food supplies, and forced Nai Aung Myint to carry 6 mortor shells. They were taken as porters for one week and walked along with soldiers.
According to one porter among them, he said the soldiers also arrested farmers to be porters if they met them in the paddy-fields or in fruit plantations while they were working. When the soldiers went into villages, they looted many things of the villagers' properties.
While these last group of villagers are at porter service, there was also one fighting happened between LIB No. 299 troops and a Mon splinter soldiers. Luckily, they did not get any injuries. But some Burmese soldiers died.
The conscription of porters from the villages not only happens to Singu village alone, LIB No. 299 also took potters from many other villages, such as, Hangan, Kaw-hlaing, Yin-dein, Yin-ye, Kapya, Khaw-za, Kyon-nyae, Magyi, Mi-htaw-hla-gyi andMi-htaw-hla-kaly.
Similarly to LIB No. 299, another military battalion bases in Ye Township, IB No. 61 also used many porters in the same area, southern part of Ye Township. But the request for porters is not very often like LIB No. 299 did. When the troops of IB No. 61 arrived into one village, they just asked the village headmen to provide them with some porters and the headmen had to manage.
On April 10, 2002, when a military column of IB No. 61 troops went into Yinye village, they also requested the village headmen to provide them 8 villagers for porters. The village headmen suddenly managed to provide this number of villagers for the army.
Then, some soldiers led by a Sergeant went into one house and arrested one man. And, they forced him to show the houses of relatives of the Mon splinter soldiers. When the man refused he did not know, the soldiers also beat him. They kicked his stomach and his back several times. Because of inner injury, he could not work for many days.
In Mon State, if compared with other area, Ye Township has remained as a war zone even after the ceasefire. The military battalions in this area, have to launch more military activities against the rebel armies. Whenever the Burmese Army launches for offensives or military patrol, the civilians are forced to be porter for long days or short days.
After SPDC issued the Order 1/99 in 1999 and later the supplementary order in October 2000, to halt all the requisition of forced labour in Burma after intensive pressure by ILO and international community, the scale of the requisition of forced labour has gradually reduced.
Most SPDC authorities in towns/cities, village tracts and villages, have respected the order and stopped using forced labour if there is not necessary. However, for the religious affairs, such as building the pagodas, monasteries and other monuments, some civilians voluntarily contribute their labour due to their religious belief. By sometimes, when the authorities or army takes responsibility in building of, especially pagodas, they also forced the civilians to contribute their labour.
But the various battalions of Burmese Army in Mon State, Karen State and Tenasserim Division, which always have to launch the military offensives or area patrol have constantly used porters in frontline or along with them and during their deployment of new bases or repairs of old bases, they always forced the civilians to contribute labour in the construction.
Actually, under the rule of military regime, these battalions have the highest power in most area and no authorities or people can stop them to halt the requisition of forced labour. SPDC, itself, has not enforced these orders to them for a respect of human rights and blinded its eyes for years. In the hardship conditions of battle-fields in Burma, the regime's soldiers have been much relied on the porters and it is also hard for them to abandon this practice, using of porters, immediately.
Forced Labour Review:
We heard a good news in
In 1999, the Burma's military regime, SPDC issued an order, which was well-known as Order 1/99 to halt all activities of the requisition of forced labour by the regime authorities and members of Burmese Army. It did not get done even one year period passed. Then the regime issued another supplementary order for the previous order and clear described members of armed force must stop using forced labour, which also means to stop use of civilian porters.
We have found that there has been less use of forced labour in the regime's full control area and in the cities, after these orders. However, these orders have not made any effect in the ethnic rural areas in where the armed conflict is taken place.
The requisition of forced labour for development projects, troop deployment and porter service has continued and several battalions of Burmese Army (Myanmar Armed Force) have involved in violating Order 1/99 and the supplementary order. However, they are not received any punishment by the regime's higher authorities.
ILO and international community should make assure to SPDC and Burmese Army to respect their own issued orders.
Information on HURFOM and Invitation for Feedbacks from Readers
Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) was founded in 1995, by a group of young Mon people. The main objectives of HURFOM are:
- To monitor human rights situations in Mon territory and other areas southern part of Burma,
- To protect and promote internationally recognized human rights in Burma,
In order to implement these objectives, HURFOM has produced "The Mon Forum" newsletters monthly and sometimes it has been delayed because we wait to confirm some information.
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Human Rights Foundation of Monland