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

 

The Mon Forum

Issue No. 5/2002     May 31, 2002

 

The Publication of Human Rights Foundation of Monland (BURMA)

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News:

1)    Burmese Army's IB No. 77 killed two Mon villagers
2)    Forced the villagers for gas-pipeline guards,

3) Forced labour in Magyi Danikyar road construction,

 

Report:
Administration and development fund for SPDC in Mon Area

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Some Acronyms in this Issue

SPDC: State Peace and Development Council,

SLORC: State Law and Order Restoration Council,

MOMC: Military Operation Management Command,

IB: Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),

LIB: Light Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),

USDA: Union Solidarity and Development Associa­tion (of SPDC)

KNLA: Karen National Libera­tion Army,

NMSP: New Mon State Party,

 

 

News

 

Burmese Army's IB No. 77 killed two Mon villagers

On May 12,2002, when the Burmese Army troops from IB No. 77 led by Maj. Myint Lwin went to Taung-bauk village, Kya-inn-seikyi Township, Karen State, they opened on a group of villagers and killed two villagers.

On that day, when about 100 soldiers went into village, the sol­diers opened fire while a group of villagers, who were building a house. Due to the shooting, two Mon villagers, Nai Lao (31 years old) and Nai Lone (30 years) died and a Mon girl Mi Than Aye (17 years old) and another two men Nai Kun Oo (52 years old) and Nai Tun Tin seriously injured. One village died on the spot and another villager died while other villagers brought him to the closest New Mon State Party (NMSP) clinic. All seriously injured patients were brought to Kya-inn-seikyi Town hospital for treatment by the help of the villagers.


The opening fire happened in a Mon village, which is in the NMSP ceasefire zone and the shooting is an unexpected situation ac­cordingly to the villagers, because they have stayed in the villages peace­fully after NMSP signs for ceasefire in 1995. Accordingly to the ceasefire agreement, the area is belonged to NMSP's permanent ceasefire zone and many villages in the area are under the protection of NMSP. So that they did not expect such horrible and tragic incident would occur to them.

 

The IB No. 77 was a new military regiment, which was brought from other areas (not from Mon State and Karen State) and did not know about NMSP-SPDC ceasefire very well, according to the senior com­manders of Burmese Army in Rangoon when they talked to BBC interview. Therefore, they committed rampant shooting as they thought the group of villag­ers was the gathering of KNLA soldiers.

 

The NMSP complained about shooting and of­ficially filed as a criminal case to the Burmese Army higher commander. On May 17, the military intelli­gence also inquired the cases and IB No. 32, which base in Kya-inn-seikyi town called many village lead­ers and Buddhist monks from all monasteries in vil­lage and asked about the incidents.

 

Although the villager leaders and monks com­plained that there was no KNLA or Karen soldiers in their village and all villagers were pure Mon people and the shooting to the innocent villager group was wrong-doing, however, the senior commanders still did not give sentence or punishment to their men un­til the end of May.

 

 

Forced the villagers for gas-pipeline guards

In an order dated on May 14, the local military battalions ordered the villagers along Kanbauk -Myaingkalay gas-pipeline to take for the security of pipeline.

 

"On May 14, Thanbyuzayat Town's IB No. 31 commander ordered our village chairman, Nai Than Aung, to built three huts along the gas pipeline in the part of our village. The commander ordered 9 villag­ers must take security for the pipeline for 24 hours. Then, they would replace with another 9 villagers. 3 villagers have to stay in one hut and there are 3 huts and they need 9 villagers every day." explained by a Kwan-hlar villager. Kwan-hlar village is in southern part of Township and is close Thanbyazayat Town, where IB No. 32 takes base.

 

The military battalions concerned under the com­mand of Southeast Command, based in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, are ordered to take security of gas-pipeline because of in the recent explosion of pipeline, which SPDC believed it was sabotaged by an unknown rebel group.

 

No group has claimed for the responsibility for the explosion in southern part of Thanbyuyat Town­ship, in which the regime's construction workers had to fix for several days. They also stopped the running of trains for nearly 10 days.

 

"I don't think the rebels were exploding the pipeline. As my knowledge was the pipeline is thin and the weather was too hot during these days before the explosion" commented by a Mon villager, came from Kaw-dot village, Ye Township.

 

The gas-pipeline passes five Townships in Mon State and these are: Ye Township, Thanbyuzayat Township, Mudon Township, Moulmein Township and Kyaikmayaw Township, and the civilians are ordered to take security of pipeline close to their villages and let them built small huts and guard pipeline on a rotation basis.

 

The commanders also instructed to villagers if they found the rebel soldiers or strangers, they needed to inform the nearest military battalions immediately. The soldiers from the battalions also launch military opera­tion and walk along the pipe­line.

 

Villagers are forced to take security along railway and gas-pipeline, which is under water along railway

 

"The village headmen also collected 200 Kyat for each house yesterday and said it was the cost for security of the pipeline. I think they would feed the soldiers with this money."

The purpose of this pipeline is to supply gas for a cement factory in Pa-an Township, in Karen State, and SPDC plans to produce a huge amount of cement that is required for various construction.

 

 

Forced labour in Magyi-Danikyar road construction

(Southern Ye Township, Mon State)

 

Currently while LIB No. 299 is taking respon­sibility to build 4 miles long Magyi - Danikyar rough motor road, the soldiers used the villagers from 4 Mon villages to clear the route and to build the bridge for over 3 weeks.

 

On April 24, LIB No. 299 troops arrived into a Mon village, Mi-htaw-hla-gyi, in southern part of Ye Township and called a meeting with all villagers. The unidentified commander also instructed the villagers that they needed to trees, tall grasses and others along the route in their own village area, which is about one mile long. After clearing the route, he added that they need to build a bridge near their village.

 

"The commander said, we must build a strong bridge that enables for army trucks to pass. The army did not provide the villagers any materials. We had to find lumbers, wooden poles and to buy many other materials, such as nails and screws for this bridge. The people had to spend one week to get all lumbers and wooden poles. The village chairman also had to collect money to buy some materials from Ye Town. To complete the building of 25 meters long bridge, it would take for another two weeks", explained by a villager, who fled from Mi-htaw-hla-gyi village.

Similarly to that vil­lage, the soldiers also forced the villagers from Mi-htaw-hla-kalay, Magyi and Danikar village to clear the route of the road and to build bridges in streams and river along the road. The soldiers are also guarding the villagers during work. Strangely, some soldiers also worked in the construction, but they received payment from the government likely they took contract for this construction, added by that escaped villager.

 

 

Report

 

Administration and Development Fund for SPDC in Mon Area

 

I.               SPDC's Development and Administration in Mon Area


During SLORC/SPDC era, the military regime has tried to implement various types of development projects in many parts of Burma such as build roads, bridges, dams and reservoirs, canals, creation of farms and many others. In most implementation of those development projects with State plan, the civilians in the areas concerned are always requested by the local authorities concerned to contribute labour and money.

 

Similar to the development projects in other parts of Burma, the SPDC authorities have implemented various types of development projects in Mon State since the regime came into in 1988. In June 1995, when the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the Mon po­litical party that have fought the Rangoon succes­sive government for over 40 years, agreed for the ceasefire, SLORC's General Secretary No. 1, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, officially announced that the Mon State must develop within 3 years.

 

Since then, the regime has expanded the implementation of development projects in vari­ous parts of Mon State under the border area de­velopment program. Although this program is held by "Ministry of Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs", how­ever, when the regime really implements these projects, the local authorities and army command­ers directly involved in the implementations.

 

Whenever the regime implements develop­ment projects, the authorities or army command­ers always explain that these projects would make profit to the local people and so that the local vil­lagers or town residents in the area concerned must contribute their labour and money for projects. Before the ILO put pressure to the regime to halt the requisition of forced labour used various parts of Burma, the authorities and army in the rural area has used hundreds of thousands of civilians in Mon areas to involve in contributing unpaid labour mainly in the road construction. In most cases, when the civilians could not go and work in the construction site set by the authorities and army, they had to pay fines to the authorities and army commanders, who took responsibility for the construction project.

 

In some cases, like the construction of Ye-Tavoy railway road, the civilians near the road construction in Ye, Yebyu and Tavoy Township areas were constantly forced by the local authori­ties and army battalions to contribute their labour while the authorities collected a huge amount of fund from other Townships in Mon State and Tenasserim Division.

 

In some, development projects, the civilians' lands were forcibly confiscated by the authorities and army. For example, in 1999, when the authorities planned to build a bridge that passes through a river near Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, the authorities forced about 100 families of town residents and forced them to relocate in other areas. These civilians did not receive any compensation cost for their lands.

 

As the existing laws in Burma, all lands are owned by State or the regime, the authorities can confiscate any lands when they implement developments or when the Burmese Army deploys new troops in an area. Similar to land confiscation for the army base, many thousands acre of lands have been confiscated in Mon State and other areas where the Mon people live, for the construction of railway or motor road, for bridge and gas-pipeline construction and other projects. Most civilians who lost the lands did not receive any compensa­tion cost.

 

In the development projects, there are two types of projects and they are: the government planned infrastructure project and self-help project instructed by the authorities. The government project is also known as "State projects" and it will take for some years, such as construction of railway, motor road, river-cross bridges and gas-pipeline. In the community self-help development projects, as an example, the Town­ship or village authorities concerned always forced the civilians to collect fund and to construct the road between their villages or in their town wards or round the towns or in the villages. In some cases, the authorities forced the local farmers to build water canals for the distribution of water to their farms.

 

In the implementation of State projects, the regime spent many million Kyat to complete the whole construction, and they also allocated some budget provided by Rangoon and transferred to their army battal­ions concerned and the local authorities for implementation. Then, army and local authorities always col­lected many million Kyat of fund from the civilians again.

 

In the implementations of these self-help projects, the authorities always collected fund from civilians, but never inquired whether the community required these types of project or not. First, the authorities planned to build roads in most towns especially the roads inside the town wards and later even in the big villages. In such types of development projects, the authorities sometimes provide some amount of fund, or organized some rich people for donation to use for expenses and however, they always collected fund from the civilians.

 

On the other hand, SPDC also could not provide budget for the administration expenses used by the local authorities and army commanders in their own administration offices and so they also tried to find financial source to get enough budget to use in their administrations.

In most cases, the authorities and army commanders tried to collect the fund from the civilians to cover all their administration costs.   By mentioning various reasons including for the purposes of cerebrat­ing the important national occasions and other ceremony, the authorities always collected fund from the civilians.

 

Sometimes, when the authorities are collecting fund for development projects, they also collected more fund to use in their administration costs. As the authorities and army commander do not have to do account­ability to any organizations and community people, they spend the money as they liked. They never men­tioned in any report even to the higher authorities how much money they collected and how they spent them.

 

As they do not have to do for any accountability, most local authorities have deeply involved in corrup­tion. Sometimes, a group of authorities also involved in the corruption together and they shared the money, which they collected from the civilians for development or administration purposes.

 

 

   II. Fund for administration purpose

 

Under the rule of SPDC, the regime has not provided the sufficient administration cost and salaries to the government servants in the various administrative offices in the whole country. The managers or the authorities concerned in departments or in the offices have to manage by themselves to operate their activities.

 

As the administration expenses in every month are not sufficient, they needed to get more fund from the civilians to cover all their expenses. In some township, the authorities called the meeting with town ward leaders and village headmen from many villages and officially requested them to provide administration cost on a monthly basis. The authorities also instructed the big village needed to provide more fund while the small villages needed to provide small amounts of fund. The amount of fund is depending on the households in each

village. Then the village headmen or town ward leaders collected fund from every household. Not only Township authorities, in some rural areas, where the Burmese Army's battalions are taking bases, even the village authorities have to collect fund for their administration and to feed the soldiers.

 

As an instance,

"In Kalar-gote island, in northwestern part of Ye Township, Mon State, in where the Burmese Army's one column of LIB No. 343, No. 309 Artillery Regiment and one squad of naval troops are taking base, the village authorities collected 200 Kyat from every household. As the village has about 700 households, they receive about 140, 000 Kyat every month. But no villager know what amounts of money they would share among the village authorities and army."

 

Sometimes, the authorities have to find opportunities how they could get fund for their offices' daily expenses in an unusually way. Some Township also collected fund from the festival from the civilians.

 

As an instance,

"In early 2002, when Chaung-zon Township authorities tried to seek fund from the civilians for their many departments in Town, they tried to force the village headmen in village to pay fund for them for allow­ance of their village pagoda's festival.

 

"In Mon villages, every village has at least a pagoda and the villagers always arranged to hold festival for the pagodas accordingly to their traditions. In the past, the villagers did not need to request for permission to celebrate the pagoda festival. But now, the authorities instructed that they must need to ask permission for the festival and also need to pay 37, 000 Kyat to the authorities to get permission.

 

"Accordingly to the reliable source, as Chaung-zon Township has many departments, they have to share this amount of money to these departments. They shared the money: 13, 500 Kyat to Township PDC office; 10, 000 Kyat to police station; 6, 500 Kyat to No. 37 Naval Regiment; 3, 000 Kyat to Fire Brigade; 2,000 Kyat to Health Department; and 1, 500 Kyat to the Entertainment Association. In this Township, there are over 60 villages and the authorities could raise a lot of fund from the pagoda festivals on a regular basis."

 

Sometimes, by mentioning for the expenses of the national important days, such as Independence Day, Armed Force Day and others, the authorities also collected fund from the civilians to cerebrate those occasional days.

 

As an instance,

"In Chaung-zon Township, to celebrate the Independence Day, the village authorities col­lected some fund from the villagers. For ex­ample, Thet-kaw village headmen collected 300 Kyat from every house in his village. The vil­lage has about 800 households, they received about 240, 000 Kyat. The village headmen gave all of the collected money to Township authorities.

 

"To celebrate 57th Anniversary Armed Force (Tatmadaw) Day on March 27 in the hall of Southeast Command in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, the every Township authorities in Mon State asked fund from the civilians not only in towns but also in villages. In Mudon Township, the authorities asked fund for this occasion from every village. For example, three Mon villages in the southern part of Township: Kwan-hlar had to pay 7,500 Kyat; Yaung-daung village had to pay 4, 500 Kyat and Hnee-pa-daw had to pay 11, 000 Kyat respectively. In Mudon Township alone, the authorities collected about 250, 000 Kyat from 45 villages. Mon State authorities and army commanders from Southeast Command requested about 2 million Kyat for the ceremony."

 

In an order dated on January 29, 2002 (see on the original order on Page 6, in the box), Kyaikmayaw Township authorities have requested various types of fund from the villages and many villages could not afford to pay all of these costs to the authorities, and they tried to get all remaining money from the villages again.

 

In the list attached with the order, the authorities requested 42 villages in the township, to pay for the expenses of cultural competition events; for the building of a Township Buddhist monastery; for the crop harvesting ceremony; for the cost of Township produced calendar; for the costs of student sports and for the cost of a local Mon State monthly Mon Newspaper.

 

In the request, the Township authorities requested about Kyat totally for these 42 villages. These all costs would support for the administration of the Township and its also showed that the authorities collected money for all activities that happened in Township. Again, the village headmen concerned had to take responsibility for collecting the fund from their villagers.

 

When Mon State and Township authorities construct the buildings for their departmental offices, take electricity from power stations for their own use, spend some costs for welcoming the higher authorities, and conduct many other cases for the operation of their administration, they also collected fund from the civilians.

 

As an instance,

"In March 2002, to equip with auto-exchange telephone communication in Ye Township PDC office, the authorities also collected 1000 Kyat from each household in the town. The authorities complained as the phone used in their office was for the operating of Township affairs and so the civilians needed to provide available fund."

 

When there is too much pressure from the Township authorities to collect fund from the civilians, some village headmen also disappointed as they faced various difficulties to get the set amount of fund from the civilians. Especially, most villagers hated the village headmen whenever they came to collect fund. So that some village headmen wanted to resign from their positions.

 

As an instance,

"On August 18, 2002, Kawkareik Township authorities in Karen State also called a meeting with all village headmen from 36 villages in where they have full control. In the meeting, Township Chairman, Lt. Col. Ko Ko Gyi also asked the village headmen what they would like to report to Township. So many village headmen reported about they were facing difficulties in collecting fund for Township's various affairs, because the villagers were poor and most of them could not afford to pay. After reporting, the Township Chairman angered to them and said that if they were unable to collect fund from the civilians, they should resign as village leaders. After his announcement, many village headmen signed in forms of resignation and planned to resign from their positions. But when the headmen really wanted to resign, the Township authorities also stopped them again."

 

In every township in Mon State and Karen State, when Township authorities always to raise fund by staging local drama and concert, traditional boxing, and music shows, and they forced the civilians to buy the tickets to watch the shows. The authorities sold the tickets to every village, even which are far from towns and forced them to buy with cash. Many villagers could not come and take the chance to enjoy in the shows, because of their difficulty for travel or they are not impress on these shows. As the authorities already knew that many people would not come to the show, they sold many pieces of tickets to villagers by force.

 

As an instance,

"On December 14, Thanbyuzayat Township authorities also planned to stage a traditional dancing concert in town's cinema theatre and sold many thousands of tickets to all villages in township for the administration fund. They sold 300 Kyat for one ticket to watch the show. They gave the village headmen and forced them to sell. They also instructed that they did not need any returned tickets."

From selling the tickets, the authorities could raise a lot of fund. So, Township authorities and USDA always found the way how they could get money from the civilians. In some townships, the authorities staged one type of show each month and forced the civilians to buy the tickets to raise their administration fund every month.

 

 

III.        Fund for self-help development program

 

In most towns in Mon State, due to the instruction by the SPDC higher authorities, the PDC authori­ties planned to build new road or to repair some old roads in the town wards by claiming to improve commu­nication in towns. As these road construction are under self-help program, the authorities have opportunities to collect fund from the civilians in towns. Sometimes, even some roads are not needed to repair, however, as the authorities wish to collect fund from the civilians, so that they order to build or repair these roads.

 

In such of self-help road construction, the authorities never helped with Township fund, but just col­lected money from the civilians house by house. The amount of money to be provided for the authorities varied depending on the decisions of the authorities. Sometimes the authorities collected fund equally from every house, while many other times, they collected only houses, which the road passed through. Sometimes, the authorities also collected fund from them on the calculations of the length of the road passed in front of their houses.

 

When the authorities extend a new town ward, they always collected fund from the civilians in towns or from the near town wards for payment. Sometimes, the lands in the area of new town wards were confiscated by the local authorities and then they shared to their government servants. However, when they built the road, they normally collected fund from the civilians again.

 

As an instance,

"When Chaung-zon Township PDC authorities planned to create a new town ward outside of Chaung-zon Town, and they also planned to build a new road in that town ward. When they built a new road, they also tarred the whole length of route and required a lot of fund. So, the authorities decided to collect 2000 Kyat from every house near the road and 1500 Kyat from every house that was not near the road. The road was long only 2 furlongs or about 0.4 kilometer.

 

"The authorities started collecting fund in early January and forced the civilians to provide the set amount of fund as quickly as possible. But many poor families could not afford to pay that amount of money Then, the authorities also reduced the set amount of requested fund from 2000 Kyat to 500, for the little number of poorest families in town. They also reduced to some another poor houses to pay 1500 Kyat per household.

 

"The authorities have planned to complete the construction before the Armed Force Day, that would be held on March 27, 2002. The authorities instructed to the paid workers in the road that they must complete the construction on March 15 and then they needed to arrange for ceremony to welcome Armed Force Day by opening this road."

 

Similarly to Chaung-zon Township, the Mon State authorities also forced other Townships in Mon State to build concrete or tar motor roads in every center of the town and to collect fund from the civilians in the town ward concerned for the expenses. The civilians who were on the route have to pay more to cover all expenses of construction and materials.

 

As an instance,

"In January 2002, when Ye Township authorities built tarred road in Yan-myo-aung and Aung-min-gla wards in the center of the town, because the authorities would like to show the nice surrounding in town to visitors. However, the authorities did not provide any fund but collected 20, 000 to 50, 000 Kyat from each household in town wards. The authorities collected different amounts of money from the civilians by taking accounts of each household's business. But they did not collect fund from government servants, who stayed in the wards. Then, the authorities collected 200 Kyat from each household from another town wards."

 

In some area, the authorities also encouraged the local farmers to grow paddy crop even in the dry season. As the lands are too drought in dry season, the growing of paddy during dry season (during January to May) is impossible for the local farmers and only a little number of farmers could grow dry season paddy crops whose farms are close to the river or streams. However, the majority of farmers in Mon State refused to cultivate dry season paddy crop.

 

Therefore, the local authorities forced the local farmers to build water dike near the farms or villages and let them take water from there. When they planned to build these dikes, they did not provide any assistance to the local farmers, but just collected fund from the farmers.

 

As an instance,

"In January, 2002, with a plan to build a water dike near Wae-rat village, Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State, the village authorities collected 500 Kyat from every household. The village has only 200 house­holds (almost farmers), the authorities got only small amount of money and said it was impossible to build a water dike. So, they planned to collect more fund."

 

Sometimes, the local villagers also needed to provide fund to the military battalions or the authorities, while they planned to cultivate dry-season paddy crop in the rural areas. In all Townships in Mon State, although the farmers would not like to do this crop cultivation in dry season, the authorities however have to cultivate for a show to encourage the local farmers. They received the order from the higher authorities and so they must involve in this cultivation. But again, they collected fund from the civilians.

 

As an instance,

"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 60 acres of dry season paddy crops by bringing water from river, but they 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 cost 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."

 

In the early of 2002, the authorities also planned to create 'the model villages' in Karen State and Mon State, which means to have good roads, better surrounding, available sanitation, in those villages. The authorities also instructed the remaining villages have to follow to change the surrounding of their villages like those model villages. While they created these model villages, they also collected fund from the villagers concerned.

 

As an instance,

"As a self-help program, the Township authorities also ordered Kaw-bein village headmen to build concrete roads in the whole village to create the first 'model village' in Township. In this village, there are one main road and many other small roads. On February 10, the Chairman of Kawkareik Township, U Ko Ko Gyi (the former Lt . Col.), arrived to this village and ordered the headmen to build a piece of model concrete road near the market, which they have to expense about 30, 000 Kyat to buy cement and other materials. As the cost was small amount, it was not so difficult for the headmen to collect money.

 

"Later on March 14, the Township authorities came to the village again and hold a meeting with the village headmen.   In that meeting, he ordered to construct all roads in the village to have concrete roads.   The headmen faced a very difficult situation to collect money from the villagers.   However, Township Chairman U Ko Ko Gyi ordered they must complete all construction works not later than March 24 to welcome the Armed Force Day.

 

"The headmen had only ten days deadline to complete the construction of the roads with concrete layer. The cost for the construction was about 2. 5 million Kyat and they suddenly managed to collect fund from the civilians to complete road construction.

 

"The household families who stay along the main road also have to pay up to 30, 000 Kyat and the families who stay in small roads had to pay less amount of money. On March 24, while the roads were nearly completed, the Township Chairman came and hold the opening ceremony of the concrete roads in Kaw-bein village."

 

In every Township, when the authorities and army try to establish model villages, upgrade the school supplies including computer system, open the village library, form the new executive committee members of USD A, the civilians always have to pay to the authorities.

 

 

IV.        Fund for State Planned Infrastructure Development Projects

 

Although SPDCs No. 3 powerful leader, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt declared to develop Mon State within three years especially to improve the communication and transportation by building various roads that con­nects towns and villages, however, the plan has not been succeeded, because the regime did not have enough budget. In every development projects planned by the regime, building long road or huge bridge, the authorities always tried to collect fund from the civilians.

 

If there is huge project, the authorities ordered the village headmen and town ward leaders to collect huge amount of fund, which means many millions Kyat. But the regime also contribute some budget for these types of development. However, the budget provided by the regime is not more than 50% of the total expenses. Thus, the civilians in the area, which the road passes through or the bridges are built, they always has to contribute money to cover all expenses used in the project.

 

As an instance,

"When Kyaikmayaw Township authorities planned to build a 37 miles long motor road that connected Kyaikmayaw town and a Mon village, Chaung-htit-kwa, the authorities collected fund from the civilians with a rate 5000 Kyat per household. They mainly collected this money from the villages which are close to the road. They collected fund from over 15 villages in township and they are: Tarana; Kaw-hlein; Kaw-ha-light, Kyaik-pran, Kyon-wan, Kaw-don, Kaw-panaw, Ka-don-si, Wae-pa-nae and many other small villages.

 

"The villages have about 2500 households and they could get about 12.5 million Kyat totally. The regime only contributed 700, 000 Kyat when their construction companies tried to build a bridge. Even in the building of that bridge, the civilians in the area also have to provide fund, 400,000 Kyat to cover for all costs."

 

As another instance,

"When Ye Township authorities planned to build a tar motor road from Ye to Abor village, which is 3 miles long, they instructed the village leaders in the area to provide them with 5 million Kyat fund. The construction of this motor road was for the people and so the authorities instructed that the civilians in the area concerned who might have to use this road have to pay for all costs of construction.

 

"In early March, MOMC No. 19 Commander, Brigadier Ye Win ordered to the village headmen in the surrounding villages that as the road was roughly built last year and it must complete for the construc­tion by pouring tar on it in this year.

 

"To receive 5 million Kyat funds from the road construction, he ordered the headmen from five village tracts, An-din, Asin, Zee-phu-taung, Duya and Abor, to provide 1 million Kyat from each village tract. Then, the deadline for this fund collection for the road construction was before the end of March."

 

As an another instance,

"On December 5, 2001, the local village PDC authorities informed the villagers in four villages in Moulmein township, Mon State, to provide them with 2500 Kyat per household to build a five mile long road that passes these villages.

 

"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 authorities collecting fund 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."

 

Sometimes, when the authorities had to repairs of the roads or bridges in the main road, they also collected fund from the civilians or passengers or car ferries that use the road. The regime's construction or transportation department does not provide any fund and the local authorities and the military battalions in the area nearby had to manage to repair the roads or bridges. So that they collected from the civilians or passengers or ferry owners. 

 

As an instance,

"On March 2, 2002, an old bridge between Son-htit-tar and Aru-taung villages in the northern part of Ye Township was destroyed and the Township's construction department did not come and rebuild the bridge. Transportation was cut for some days and the nearest military battalion of Burmese Army, LIB No. 343, took responsibility to build a new road for temporary use and to repair the bridge.

 

"So the battalion commander collected fund, 10000 Kyat from every ferry car that used the road and collected from the civilians 500 Kyat each. Many ferry owners and passengers were too disappointed with this fund collection. One ferry driver said, collection of fund was too much and the battalion could get a lot of extra money. About 200 ferry cars used that road and many hundreds of travelers used the road."

 

Even to build schools and hospitals in the towns and in some villages, Mon State or Township authori­ties could not provide budget for those school buildings and also requested fund from the civilians for all most costs of the building.

 

As an instance,

"In January and February 2002, when Ye Township authorities planned to build a high school building in Aung-min-gla town ward in Ye Town, Mon State, the authorities collected about 500,000 Kyat each from two villages: Chaung-taung and Abor, near Ye Town. And they also collected fund 500 Kyat from each house in three town wards, Aung-min-gla, Aung-thu-kha, and Aung-myit-ta. Then, they also collected 1000 Kyat from each high school students for all expenses of the building and other required school materials. On February 5, after the authorities collected fund and completed the building, a military commander, Brigadier Ye Win, made an opening ceremony."

 

In most case of infrastructure projects, the Mon State PDC authorities declared that after they came into power how many miles of motor road or railway road they have built, how many bridges they have built across which rivers and streams, what dams they built and how many acres of lands they could provide water and about many other infrastructure development projects. The authorities rarely recognized about the civil­ians' contribution with labour and fund. They have always pretended that the regime did all and the whole development by cooperation of local Burmese Army soldiers.

 

 

V.            Conclusion

 

The collection of fund by the local authorities is not really regulated accordingly to the existing laws in Burma. In the country, where there is no 'rule of laws', the regime au­thorities could do what they like to do, such as collecting fund, threat against civilians to par­ticipate in development works and others. They also did not have procedure or system in collecting this fund and never considered how many percent­age of fund should collect from one family by reviewing his daily or monthly income.

 

If compared with foreign currency, like Dollar or Euro, the fund contribution for these development projects might be too small. However, when compared their daily income, unemployment situation and inflation of Burmese currency Kyat, the amount of payment is too much.

 

Due to both tradition and unemployment conditions, only men or the heads of families are the main persons who seek works and feed their families in Burma. For a day-labourer, he could earn only 500 Kyat in Burma for his about 10 hours work in factory or in agriculture. Some days, he could not find the work and so he could make about 10000 - 12000 Kyat (about 14 US Dollar) in one month for his family. Therefore, when he have to pay 1000 - 2000 Kyat for development and administration fund, he left nothing a very little amount of money to feed his family.

The more development and administration fund is collected by the authorities, the people, who have no permanent lands and agricultural lands, face worst conditions in Mon areas. As the Mon people are traditional farmers, although the authorities have exploited a lot of fund from them, they have at least rice, and so they could survive.     

 

 

Commentary

Tragedy in Taung-bauk

 

Since ceasefire 1995, a Mon village, Taung-bauk, in Karen State has become in peaceful and many displaced villagers returned  to that village.   That village and many other Mon villages are in NMSP's ceasefire zone and they never thought the incident like May 12 would happen to them.

 

On that day, while the weather was fine, the Burmese Army from IB No. 77 suddenly went into village and soldiers fired on a group of villagers.  Two villagers died and three seriously injured. Villagers fled and hid.  Women and children were crying.

 

The response from SPDC leaders was unbelievable.  They said the soldiers made mistakes and did not know the area was under NMSP ceasefire zone.   But they also arrested some NMSP members in the area and took for some days along with them.

 

This was SPDC's clear sign that they did not care about ceasefire with NMSP.   They broke their promises many times and entered into NMSP areas and committed human rights violations against the civilians.

 

It makes hard for the ethnic people to believe the SPDC's slogan for national reconciliation.    NMSP by representing the case of Mon people and other ethnic nationalities have also requested for the peaceful political talks several times.    However the regime has refused.   They said to the ethnic leaders to attend their sham national convention. At the same time, they still implement the policy of assimilation and oppression against the ethnic people.

 

A victim of shooting incident

Name: Nai Lone

Age: 30 years old

Family: Married and left his

wife Mi Ngwe and 4 children

behind.

 (photo not posted for technical reasons)

 

I