News, Personal Accounts, Reports & Analysis on Human Rights Situation

In Mon Territory and Other Areas Southern Part of Burma

 

Electric Publication by

HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION OF MONLAND

mforum@np.anet.net.th

 

The Mon Forum

 

ISSUE NO. 9/2002; September 30, 2002; MONTHLY PUBLICATION

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Text Box: CONTENTS:
News:
(1)	Arrest of fourty hunger villagers after stealing of rice
(2)	Flooded Mon villages along Gyaing river,
(3)	Teaching of Mon language is barred, 

Report:
(1)	SPDC and its supporters: in deep cycle of corruption and fund collection
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Some Acronyms 
in this issue
SPDC-	State Peace and Development Council,
SLORC- 	State Law and Order Restoration Council,
BA-	Burmese Army,
IB -	Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
USDA-	Union Solidarity and Development Association,
MWVO-	Myanmar War Veteran Organization, 
KNU-	Karen National Union,
NMSP-	New Mon State Party,


COMMENTARY:

 

Who create humanitarian crisis in Burma?

In September 2002, it is a news that a group of Mon villagers including some farmers from Kamawet village in Mon State, stole rice because they have no sufficient rice at their homes to feed their children.   Hence, it is a question,”who make farmers to be hungry?”.   

The current regime, SPDC, always blames to democratic and ethnic oppositions for calling international sanctions for aid to not hand over to the regime.   They accused that these groups have created humanitarian crisis and have less sympathy to the people.

In the case of farmers, who mainly produce rice in Burma do not have enough rice, how we can analyze?   Kamawet village has planty of paddy growing farmlands and over 70% of families in villages produce rice every year.   It could also import rice to another areas.   How this rice bowl is being reduced?

Every year after harvest season in December, the SPDC authorities and local army force the farmers to sell their paddy at low price.   The price is three times lower than market price.   Normally, the regime buys 30-50% of the total paddy products at low price and brings from Mon State to another areas.  Or, they import foreign countries at high price to get profit.

The farmers remained with insufficient rice at their homes.   Then, as they have to pay illegal tax and porter fee to authorities and army very often, again they have to sell their paddy.  As a result they left no more food.   This is the answer for “who make farmers to be hungry”.

Then, we could find answers for various crisis, such as why the teachers could not send their children to universities and why a nurse in a hospital could not afford to pay hospital cost for her sick children, and other many questions.   Furthermore, we could also find why hundreds of thousands of non-Burman people are displaced and faced food-shortage problems.

 

 

NEWS:

 

Arrest of fourty hunger villagers after stealing of rice

(Mudon Township, Mon State)

In the morning of September 18, 2002, the police force, SPDC village authorities and militiamen rounded up 40 villagers including a woman in Kamawet village, who are thief suspect of rice looting happened at last night.  

At mid-night of September 17, about hunger 40 villagers from that village went to railway station and stole rice which were stored there by a local trader, Nai Pan Htein.   Most of them are from Sein-taung new section in Kamawet village and the police and village authorities rounded them up in the morning.   Then they detained them the whole day in the police station and brought them to Mudon Town in the evening.

During August and September, many parts of Mon State are under flood and it made difficulties in communication and transport.   The rice price in cities also increased and the local rice traders tried to sell the paddy from village to town residents.   While traders were bringing rice from villages to towns, the paddy price in villages also increased and rocketed.   Some poor villagers needed to buy rice at high price.

“Now, the rice cost is too expensive and is about 6000 Kyat per basket (the rice measurement in Burma – which is about 30 kilograms in weight) in our village.   Many poor families are now eating rice soup and I think that is why they looted the rice”, said by a villager.  

Kamawet village is the biggest village in Mudon Township and situates in the southern part of the town.  

Unlikely to the previous years, the rice price this year has been expensive.  Kamawet village is the biggest village even in Mon State and some hundreds of poor families in there and they could not afford to pay to get rice at high price.   Thus, they tried to loot rice in the railway station, which the trader stored and planned to transport to another area.  

Among 40 villagers, group leaders were: Nai Halae (38 years), Win Naing (26 years), Shwe Aung (36 years) and Nai Win (25 years).

Until the end of September, those villagers were in detention and the police did not bring them to court to face trail.  According to local authorities to their families, these villagers must face punishment or imprisonment with charge of stealing other people's properties.  

While many poor families in towns and villages are facing food-shortage problem and paddy plants are under water, the authorities planned to make contract with local farmers to sell their paddy at low price after harvest.     Mon State's Agriculture Products Trading Department officials said they would provide fertilizers to farmers, but they needed to get promise from farmers that they would sell their paddy after harvest season.

 

Flooded Mon villages along Gyaing river

(Kawkareik Township, Karen State)

About 11 Mon villages situating along Gyaing river in Kawkareik Township, Karen State, were under flood for 2 months in August and September and they did not receive any assistance for the regime.  

Gyaing river flows from Karen State and entered into Salween river near Moulmein, the capital of Mon State and then into Andaman Sea.   The Mon people, who are the lowland farmers stayed along Gyaing river and cultivated paddy as their main occupation.  

This year floor disaster destroyed paddy in many hundreds area of farmlands along Gyaing river and unusual flood also drove the villagers to move to higher part of the area.   The villages which have been suffered by flood in the recent months and number of families (estimated) are as below:

Name of villages           Number of families

1. Kanni                                        500

2. Thayet-taw                                400

3. Kyon-doe                                  400

4. Nyaung-yake                               50

5. Kharit                                        150

6. Kaw-ka-taw                                 50

7. Kaw-go                                     300

8. Kaw-bein and Min-ywa           1, 000

9. Doe-pyar                                  150

10. Kwan-poe                                150

11. Mon-suu                                  200

Over 3000 families from above mentioned village had to flee from their villages and moved to hilly area nearby.  Although the local authorities from Kawkareik Township knew the situation, they have not organized for any emergency relief to flood victims.  

Depending on the water level, some villagers displaced over one month and some displaced nearly two months.   During their displacement, many families faced food-shortage problems and other diseases because of flood and lack of shelters.  

Additionally, on August 14, a strong storm also destroyed about 54 houses and a primary school in Kyon-doe village.   No assistance for those who lost the houses were provided by the local authorities.   Villagers themselves helped each other.  

The floor also swept many thousand acres of lands in Mon State but no villages were under flood.   Although the people did not have to escape however, a lot of their paddy plants are destroyed.  

 

Teaching of Mon langauge is barred

(Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State)

In late September, a Township appointed a school headmistress in Mar-tay village, Kyaikmayaw Township of Mon State, ordered a Mon teacher to not teach Mon language in school.  

According to villagers, Kawmayaw Township authorities also ordered school headmistress since the opening of school in June to drive out Mon teacher provided by community and to ban teaching of Mon language.   First, although the headmistress would not like to follow the order, but later Township authorities threatened her she will be dismissed if she refused to kick out Mon teacher and remove Mon language class.   The Mon teacher also had to move into a Mon monastery in the village with her fifty students.   Then she re-established her class by the help of Mon Buddhist monks.   

That school was created by the community for many years and all school building and materials were provided by Mon villagers.    First the Mon national school was established when the Rangoon government had loose control in the area about 20 years ago.  Later the government teachers came and tried to teach Burmese language as a subject.   The Mon teachers have allowed them.   Later after NMSP-SLORC ceasefire in 1995, the school was officially recognized as government school and allowed only one teacher to teach Mon language.

In last dry season, the Township ordered the villagers to rebuild new school with villagers' own fund and made with iron sheet roof.   Then the authorities planned to occupy the whole as government school and kick out Mon teacher and ban the teaching of Mon language after the new school was built.  

 

 

 

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REPORT:

 

SPDC and its supporters: in deep cycle of corruption and fund collection

I. Practices of fund collection in southern part of Burma

Since the current military regime, SLORC/SPDC, seized the power during 1988, it has had insufficient budget for administrative and other several purposes.   In 1997, it found a serious conditions and it have no any budget for administrative purposes, as the regime has spent a lot of money during early 1997 offensives against the ethnic armed force.  

When it found shortage of budget, SPDC in Rangoon ordered to local authorities to collect fund from civilians and let they support in general administrative purposes.   Since the Township and village authorities have focused more in fund collection from the civilians by giving reasons of various purposes.  

Later, as they have good momentum, the fund collection processes involved of setting gambling dens in various towns and villages in Mon State and the authorities openly collected fund from gambling, although the community people denied this practice.  

With an objective to grip in power, the regime also formed handpicked organization, USDA (Union Solidarity and Development Association) and they also organized veteran and disabled soldiers of Burmese Army (BA) to be their supports.   While these organizations occurred and for operations, the regime adopted plan to allow fund raising in the community.  

Therefore, the people in southern Burma faced a burden of paying illegal, unlimited and unsystematic tax or fund to authorities, USDA, police force, veteran and disabled soldiers.   The business and employment conditions in the area also have not well supported enough for the local people and one man could raise only 500-1000 Kyat per day if he works a day-labourer.  

On the other hand, due to rebellion in rural areas, the movement activities of civilians were against restricted by the local authorities, soldiers and other security force.  This makes to civilians to face less and less income and to lose their crops.

 

II. Different types of fund collections by authorities

When the local authorities collected fund from the civilians, they invented many types of activities in the area concerned and tried to collect fund from civilians by giving any reasons.

In some areas, the authorities staged the boxing or invited the well-known singers for live singing of the songs.   For these boxing shows or live song shows, the authorities and police officers forcibly sold the tickets to the civilians.  In this case, the authorities conducted these boxing and stage shows in the center of the town and sold tickets to every villager forcibly, who came from rural villages.   Or, sometimes, they gave these tickets to village headmen and let headmen paid the money.   Because of difficult communication and security, most villagers who were forced to buy the tickets could not come and enjoy in the shows.   As the authorities knew well most villagers could not come and enjoy in the shows, they always sold the over-number of tickets, and so received a lot of income.  

In most cases of administrative purposes, the authorities have continuously collected tax or fund from the civilians.   However, the authorities did not make for any accountability for the fund they collected from the civilians.   Even for the small purposes of administration, they collected fund from the civilians.

As an instance,

“In early January 2002, when the authorities in Ye Township authorities declared for notification of fire in 10 town quarters in the area, they also collected fund from the civilians.   The collected 9, 000 Kyat from each town section and they totally received 90, 000 Kyat from 10 sections.   In this case, the authorities did not have to spend too much money to rent a loud speaker equipment and an announcer.   But they collected a huge amount of money.”

In every entrance of towns in Mon State, the authorities opened check-points and have collected a huge amount of cashes from passenger ferries.   Each ferry bus or truck that arrive to check-point needed to get permission to continue their travel by paying to the authorities.

As an instance,

“In the entrance of Ye Town, Mon State, Township authorities set a check-point and collect fund from every passenger ferry car that entered into the town.   They told to those ferry that the reason of collecting fund is to repair the roads and to construct a football ground in July 2002.  

“According to a ferry driver, the authorities have collected this type of tax for over 10 years.   They always said that they would build the roads and football grounds.   But he said the ferry drivers and passengers did not see any progress in the road construction.   Most roads became ruin and the authorities did not really construct any football ground.

“Many passengers and ferry owners believed that the authorities have involved in deep corruption and they took most money.   There are nearly 200 ferry cars passed this check-point and they collected 150 Kyat for small passenger car and 1000 Kyat for some big truck.   The authorities could get at least 40, 000 Kyat every day and could get many million Kyats every year in this check-point alone.”

Since 2000, SPDC ordered every Township to equip the computer system to improve their education study and to have know-how of the computer use.   Under the name of upgrading education system by using computer, the SPDC ordered the local authorities concerned to collect fund from the civilians.   The regime just informed for ‘self-help’ in the education program.  

As an instance,

“In early July 2002, Ye Town’s Basic High School No. 2 and Township education committee planned to equip computer system in their school accordingly to instruction by Mon State Education Department.

“In this case, the Mon State authorities did not provide any allocated budget to school and just ordered to Township authorities to collect fund.  And, the Township authorities adopted a fund collecting plan as they would collect 100, 000 Kyat from every town section.  As the Township has about 10 sections, they received about 1 million Kyat in total from Town.   Additionally, the Township authorities also collected fund from villagers in various villages in Township.   Depending on the population number, some villagers have to pay up to 200, 000 Kyat while some small had to pay 50, 000 Kyat.   In total, Township authorities collected about 3 million Kyat from the whole Township area.  

“After equipping the new equipment in school, the higher authorities and army commanders in the area would come and hold a ceremony for opening of computer system and multimedia room like other Townships in Rangoon Division.”

In every case of fund collection, the civilians, the authorities always take the extra money to their pockets.   They never reported to the people how much they have spent for which purposes and when.   The authorities involved and took the money not from the administrative fund, but the fund they collected for education and health care purposes.

 

III. Illegal Gambling by SPDC Authorities

According to the Burmese customary laws, the conduct of illegal gambling by any citizens is illegal and The State law enforcement police bring those who conduct and involve in the gambling to court.   In traditions of non-Burman ethnic and Burman people in Burma, the community people believe that conduct of gambling in or near the community could create social disorder and social problems and it also against the Buddhism.  

Even in BSPP ear, the regime authorities and law enforcement police involved in oppressing illegal gambling and tried to keep ‘rule of law’ in the community for the well being of the civilians.  

However, since over five years, when SLORC ordered their concerned State, Division, Township and Village level authorities, for a fund-raising program in their own area for expenses of administration, the authorities have found many ways to raise.   The State regime SLORC also could not provide the administrative departments concerned with enough budget and instructed them to spend from their own fund.  

Since then, the authorities collected various types of fund from the civilians including fund to provide money for the purposes, from the construction of roads to monthly security fee for village/ town militiamen.    But the authorities have not just satisfied with only collecting fund/ tax from the civilians, and developed other way getting money.

In 2000, the local authorities have invented or allowed the illegal gambling into the center of the community.   Recently the gambling dens were outside of village, in bushes or in hidden places in where that made the law enforcement authorities to be hard to find.   Currently the gambling dens in the middle of the town, or in important public rest places.

Generally, the local authorities initiated gambling, especially card game and other games for collecting fund or tax from gamblers.  To have a huge amount of fund or tax from them, the authorities have allowed gambling for several days.  

As an instance,

“During the early of February, 2002, Navy Battalion No. 37 based in an island in Chaung-zon Township, western of Moulmein (see in Mon State map), coordinated with Township authorities set the gambling den near battalion headquarters and allowed 10 days gambling.  During these days, the authorities and army commanders collected tax from the gamblers.  They set many gambling dens especially playing card game and collected 3000-5000 Kyat per night from one den.   They allowed about 40 dens every night and could receive a lot of fund from them.  

“Not only near the navy base, the authorities also extent their activities of setting up gambling dens.  In Mon traditions, the Mon people cerebrated their villages’ pagoda festival and new year festival (Songkharam) in dry season especially from January to June.  Where there was a village’s pagoda festival, the Township authorities negotiated with village authorities and set gambling dens in the ground of festival.   As they agreed to share the fund among them, village authorities also allowed for setting up gambling dens.

“During February and early March, the authorities moved from one Mon village to another in island and set gambling dens and collected tax from gamblers.  Starting from March 17, while there was a pagoda festival in a new town section in Chaung-zon Town, the authorities set about 50 gambling dens and allowed them to gamble for 3 days.  They collected about 3, 000 Kyat from one den and received about 150, 000 Kyat every night.”

Actually, SPDC authorities also catch the chance for getting money from the civilians especially farmers in those gambling.   The farmers completed their harvest in December and they might have some amount of income after selling their paddy crops.   Normally, the farmer families spent money during dry season pagoda festival and the authorities know about this situation and they tried to set gambling den in various villages or town quarters while the villagers were celebrating pagoda’s festivals to exploit money from farmers illegally.  

Similarly to Chaung-zon Township, the authorities in other township also conducted gambling in other township area of Mon State, such as in Mudon Township, Kyaikmayaw Township, Thanbyuzayat Township and Ye Township.   By setting up gambling dens in many villages, the authorities collected fund or tax from gamblers. 

In some area, there was conflict between the groups of gamblers and after many competitions and tricks used in gambling, they created tensions.  As a result, the violent fighting among the gamblers occurred and some of them also got serious injuries.  The authorities and militia force also took action against the gamblers who involved in violent fighting.

As an instance,

“In the first week of December 2001, Village authorities set playing game in Zee-pu-taung village, Ye Township of Mon State, set gambling games in village for one week and collected tax from gamblers.  Many villagers from the surrounding villagers came and involved in playing card game.   In this gambling, there was an argument occurred between villagers from Zee-pu-taung and Azin villages.   After argument, the villagers also fought each other in violation way.   Because of fighting, one villager from Azin village got serious injury after his chest, and a woman near a fighting place was stabbed in stomach by a knife when a villager tried to stab his enemy.   Then, the authorities brought those injured man and woman to Ye town’s hospital.   The authorities and militiamen also arrested all villagers who involved in fighting and brought them to Ye police station.   They detained them for some days and fined them to pay 15, 000 Kyat each person.  Then, they released those villagers.”

In Thanbyuzayat Township, the authorities also set gambling den in various villages and they also collected fund from the civilians.   In most situation, the authorities tried arrange for gambling during village festivals and encouraged the villagers in area to involve in gambling.

As an instance,

“Village authorities from Township and Wae-ka-lee village conducted a gambling from March until July 2002 continuously and many villagers from the area nearby came and involved in playing card and many other games.   The villagers from 10 villages also came and gambled.   Due to long day casino, the authorities received about 2 million Kyat in total accordingly to a village headman in the area.   Some villagers hugely lost in gambling and had to sell their houses and properties.  7 families in Wae-ka-lee lost about 8. 5 million Kyat and most of families had to sell their properties.   Some villagers also had to escape into Thailand after they could not pay back their debts to winners.   Authorities also bought the cheap properties sold by game losers and they kept them and sold again to get some profit.”

This was a huge gambling according to the villagers in the area and they believed it was set with a purpose that the authorities planned to exploit money or properties from the villagers.   For losers, they also had quarrels in their families when they tried to sell properties.  

Similarly to many Townships in Mon State, the village authorities in Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division also set gambling dens in some Mon villages.   In this Township, most villages in northern part of Township are Mon villages and they also celebrated the festival after harvest season.   Village authorities, by negotiating with Township and took this good chance to set gambling dens and collect fund from gamblers.  

As an instance,

“From 16 to 23 January 2002, when there was a festival in Kywetalin village, the Chairman of the village, U Shwe and Township authorities agreed to set up gambling den and they collected 2000 Kyat from one dens.  They set up about 50 dens and many villagers from the area involved in gambling.  After tax collection for 8 days, the authorities received a lot of money and then they shared among themselves.   Township authorities, village authorities and militia force shared money.”

The higher authorities in Mon State although knew about gambling in Township and rural village areas, but they blinded their eyes because they could not provide any required budget for all administrative sectors and let the authorities did what they liked to get any fund.

  

IV. USDA and its activities

USDA is mainly formed for support of the military regime, SPDC and most of its executive members in higher State, Division and Township levels are handpicked by the military commanders in the area concerned.   Since the USDA leaders who have the highest decision-making power in the organization are under the control of SPDC leaders, the regime has encouraged them to widen their organization and extent membership systematically.  

In the village or even in Township levels USDA, they allowed the members to freely elected their leaders.  Since the formation of this organization, the regime provides fund to the organization to operate their function, organize members, travel and run their offices.   To have sufficient cost for organization running cost, the authorities also provided them with cost of administration activities and self-reliance activities.

While the whole population are facing hardships for operating their business, are suffered from forced labour, paying regular tax, and movement restriction, the USDA members have the best opportunity and they are free of these SPDC’s conscription.   But in reality, USDA itself closely corroborated with SPDC and has helped implemented the oppressive administration.   In strategy of SPDC rule, the regime has used ‘divide and rule’ method and created huge disunity especially between USDA members and general population.  

In some Townships in Mon State, in Mudon and Ye Township, the Mon State PDC allowed Township USDA members to operate ‘paddy-buying center’ and let them force the local farmers to sell their paddy at low price during the period from November to March of the year.   Sometimes SPDC authorities have used USDA members to go and force farmers to sell their paddy as quickly as possible.   After they get profit from buying the paddy from farmers and then sell to SPDC’s Agriculture Products Trade Department, the SPDC Township authorities also them money for their organization.   By receiving money support from SPDC authorities, all levels of USDA followed the instruction by The State and has helped implementing policies.  

As USDA has better opportunity, has some authority for decision-making process in their own area and could spend money, many opportunists tried to join in organization.  Or, some people who would like to be free of constant conscription of forced labour and paying various tax to the authorities, also decided to join USDA, although they do not like the organization.  

When more and more opportunists went into organization, there has been more corruption in there and it also makes for Township authorities hard to keep the organization on the track.  The re-election of the executives in village or Township levels have been regularly conducted.  

As an instance,

“In January 2002, as the Chaung-zon Township USDA was not well operated due to Committee Members’ involvement in corruption and Township authorities decided to conduct re-election although the annual meeting time did not reach.   Four executive members of Township USDA took some organization fund and it run out for expenses in organization.   Township authorities knew deep corruption in organization and dismissed all executive members and arranged for new election.  As the former USDA executives could not paid the organization fund back, the authorities also confiscated a ice-making mill owned by the parents of a former executive, Ne Zin Twe, in Town.”

Accordingly to the instruction and order by SPDC, the Township and Village USDA tried to increase the number of its members with a main objective to have huge number of SPDC-supporters.   It is also for the future plan of USDA itself.   If USDA is reformed as a political party and participated in the future elections, they expect their members would vote them to win in elections.  Thus, the USDA registered the young age population in villages and towns and organized them to become members of USDA.  

The plan of USDA to increase the number of its members in most towns and villages in Mon State for the potential vote.   When they organized the people to become members, they also explain that if most of their household members become USDA members they will not have to contribute unpaid labour, free from conscription of porters, or reduce to pay regular tax.  

 

V. Role of police in money extortion

Similarly to many State servants under the supervision of the regime SPDC, the police also received insufficient amount of salary, it is also impossible for them to feed their family, to spend educational costs with this small amount of salary.  

The main duty for police is for law enforcement in towns and in villages and guard the well-being of civilians.   However, the people in Mon State believe that members of police force just regularly extort money from the civilians and this is their main activity.   There is no ‘rule of law’ in most part of Burma, the rich people, members of Burmese Army and bureaucratic authorities could win in everywhere.   Members of police force or policemen tried to extort as much as possible without respecting any laws and regulations adopted for them.  

For criminals, if they have enough money to pay to the policemen, they could be free from any punishment or they must not be brought to courts.   There has been a deep rooted corruption in the circle of law enforcement police force and all ranks of policemen from ordinary police to top police officer ask money from criminals.   Thus, most poor criminals would face different imprisonment terms and most who could afford to pay will free from any charge.  

As instances, 

“On January 25, 2002, there was a killing crime in Ye Town.   Because of their previous conflict, one young man Zaw Zaw Tun stabbed Myo Htun with a knife for several times.  The criminal had strong intention to kill other young man and he must need to appear in court.   However, as the parents of the young man was rich enough to pay police, the police officers in Ye Town released the man after they got the money.   The police officer asked for treatment cost of injured man and ask the money to close down the criminal case.   Although the amount of money paid to the police was not known, they might have to pay at least 500, 000 Kyat to police, said by a witness.”

In some case when there is a crime, if the police could not arrest the criminal, they also arrested one of family members of that criminal and extorted money from them.  

As an instance,

“On February 2, 2002, there was a car accident happened in Abor village, near Ye town.   In the evening of that day, a car driver Nai Tun crushed onto a Mon farmer couple with his car, and the man Nai Myint (40 years old) died after arriving to hospital.  The couple rode a bicycle in their return from their farms, and were crushed by careless driving car.    Many villagers believed that car driver was drunk.   After accident, the criminal Nai Tun fled away to escape from the arrest.   And police officers arrested Nai Tun’s father and detained him for several days in Ye town police detention.   At the same time, they did not try to catch Nai Tun.   During detention, they constant asked Nai Tun’s father to pay them and then they promised they would release him.  After he paid 300, 000 Kyat to police, they released.   However, the victim family did not receive any compensation cost.”

On the other hand, the law enforcement police also protected their SPDC authorities, veteran members of Burmese Army and other SPDC supporters including USDA members, and do not bring to courts although they committed crimes.   If some crimes are committed by these members, the police officer even do not come and check what happened.  The victims or plaintiffs themselves do not dare to inform to the authorities or police station about the case, because the police will not bring the defendants or the person committing the crimes into courts.   Accordingly to a word spoken by civilians that ‘the rainy will fall unequally’, which means the law will not treat the people equally.

As an instance,

“There was a fire incident happened in Lamine village, Ye Township, on August 16, 2002.   The fire started from a veteran member of Burmese Army, U Kya Ei and the fire separate to another two houses and burnt them down into ashes.   Two families who lost the houses were Mon villagers, Nai Kun Shwe and Nai Nu’s houses.   Because of rain, flame ceased and just burnt down two houses.   Two Mon families lost about 10 million worst properties including their paddy.   In Burma’s rural area, the civilians no electricity and just use fire for light.

“According to the laws or in normal situation, the police officer must arrest the head of families that made flame separating to other houses and bring him/her with fire careless charge.   However, in this case, the police officer and village authorities did not arrest veteran soldiers and ordered the two families to not make any complaint to Ye Township authorities or MI.   So, he did not face any charge.   Two families who lost every thing also did not get any assistance from authorities and no compensated cost was considered.

More terribly, when a soldier of Burmese Army committed any crime from stealing the civilians’ properties, rape ethnic women in rural areas, the law enforcement police officer could not apply any punishment against the soldiers.   According to the laws, the police could arrest anyone if they found strong evidence where there is a crime.   But this could not apply to solders or members of Burmese Army.   Both police and plaintiffs have to keep silence when they are abused by soldiers.

 

VI. Involvement of veteran BA soldiers/ disabled soldiers in fund collection

During SPDC is attacked from various frontline by democratic and ethnic oppositions for a democratic reform and for respect of human rights, the regime has tried to keep unity among members of Burmese Army and veterans.   As they believed the veteran soldiers are the main supporters to regime and the future role of Burmese Army, SPDC has given the special opportunity to those veterans who had served in army for several years.   

Since BSPP time, they formed ‘Burma War Veteran Association (but currently it is called as Myanmar War Veteran Organization – MWVO)’ and have put all the names of veteran soldiers as members of this organization.   SPDC also founded the fund raising program for the organization and let them conduct in many activities to get available fund or to run businesses to raise income with objectives to have enough pension support for veteran or to run their organization.

Therefore, SPDC local authorities have encouraged them in various ways to raise their fund especially to sell publicity, calendar, and other posters in expensive price.   Normally when MWVO members sold these publications, they always forced the civilians to buy them.  

As an instance,

“On February 18, 2002, MWVO members from Kyit-myin-taing Township, Rangoon Division, came to Ye Township and negotiated with Township authorities to collect fund from the civilians.  Accordingly to agreement with authorities, they allowed MWVO members to sell the picture poster of Buddhist to civilians.  MWVO members and local authorities went every house and forced the civilians to buy the poster with expensive price, 600 Kyat per sheet.   Even the civilians in town could buy such type of poster in town with 100 Kyat per sheet, however they needed to buy from MWVO. From selling that poster, MWVO could raise fund about 800, 000 Kyat within two days in Ye Town.   After Ye Town, these MWVO members will move to another villages and continued selling the posters.”

In most cases, the veteran soldiers, who have been in army in army for several yeas could not be familiar with business that happen in community or in a specific area.   On the other hand, they have not much interested to do farming.   Thus, the SPDC Township authorities, always offered the positions as village leaders, association leaders and other privileged posts for their survival.   When these veteran soldiers found difficulties for survival, the authorities always need to take care them.  

Similarly to veteran soldiers, SPDC authorities and Burmese Army also have to take responsibility for the fund of disable soldiers.   As the Burmese Army has increased the number of their army and intensified offensives against the ethnic armed forces, they have a lot of disabled soldiers.   Yearly or occasionally, the athorities or Burmese Army collected fund for those disabled soldiers by selling some materials to civilians.  

Once, when the new business opportunity occurred, they always offered to members of MWVO to take it.  

As an instance,

“In January 2002, SPDC officially planned to send migrant workers to Malaysia and Singapore with agreements of those countries’ employers.  When this foreign employment occurred, SPDC gave this opportunity to MWVO members’ children to apply permission to seek jobs in foreign countries.   When these migrant workers worked in these countries, they could have a very high salary and could support their families.  In this case, not only SPDC offered the best employment opportunity to those MWVO members’ children, but the regime also borrowed money for them.   SPDC authorities borrowed 100, 000 Kyat to those who applied to officially migrate to Malaysia and 150, 000 Kyat to those who wanted to migrate to Singapore.    In Ye Township alone, about  50 relatives of MWVO members applied for migration and were allowed to migrate in January and February of 2002.”

During the majority of civilians are facing economic hardship in the whole country, SPDC monopolize all economic activities and prioritized for the business opportunity to their close supporters and relatives.   For those their supporters or close relatives, they could get fund contribution or could take corrupted money.

 

VII. SPDC authorities’ restriction against the civilians

In Burma, the people faced economic hardship is not because of low income from employment or no income, but another main problem is due to BA and SPDC authorities’ movement restrictions.   The movement restriction is always relating to the security conditions of one specific area.   

In Mon State, the rebel armed force also launched their military activities against Burmese Army and sometimes they also attacked the regime’s infrastructure project sites.   Recently, SPDC’s Kanbauk-Myaingkalay gas pipeline was demolished and the regime found the security conditions have been terrible in Mon State.   Therefore, their local authorities made more restriction against the civilians in many parts of Mon State.   Among them the farmers who grow fruit and rubber trees greatly suffered from this restriction order.

To prevent the possible attack against the motor road, railway road, bridges and other important places, the authorities also forced the local civilians for guarding these communication infrastructure.    Additionally, the authorities also make registration of travelers who arrived into villages and village leaders have to report to MI or local military battalions if the guesses sleep at night in village.   This restriction also makes a lot of effect to the local civilians.  

As an instance,

“On February 24, 2002, Ye Township PDC authorities called a meeting with all village headmen in township and informed them about the security conditions in township.   They explained that the members of armed Mon splinter group would come to area and demolish many important places, and instructed to them that they needed to take all roads, investigate everyone who used the roads and to list all guesses who arrived into their villages.  

“The impacts of this order were too much.   First the farmers in the area could not move easily from one place to another.   Normally, the farmers used the roads to go their paddy farms or fruit plantations, which are far from their villages.   When they left to farms, they were always investigation by soldiers or guards in bridges or along the road.   Additionally many villagers disappointed with this security order and have less paid visits to their friends or relatives in another villages and this restriction also effected to local traditions of relative visits and Buddhist festivals.”

Again, from this restriction, the authorities could also make money.  In the period from December 2001 until July 2002 during the Burmese Army’s various battalions based in Ye and Thanbyuzayat Township were operating the military offensives against KNLA and splinter groups, when the farmers went to go to their farms, they needed to ask permission documents from village authorities or militiamen.   When they asked for permission, the authorities always again asked money from them.   In most villages, a farmer needed to pay 1, 000 Kyat to village authorities to get 7 days permission to travel and stay at their farms or in fruit plantations.   In Mon villages, over 90% of the villagers are farmers who have paddy farms and fruit or rubber plantations outside of the villages.  If they were arrested at their farms or plantations without permission letter, they must be accused as rebels by Burmese soldiers and could face punishment such as beating and killing.

Due to unemployment conditions in Mon State, Karen State and Tenasserim Division, most Mon and other ethnic civilians tried to go into Thailand to seek jobs.   The SPDC authorities in the local area tried to ban these migrant workers went into Thailand because it is against the laws, according to them.   In late 2001, Mon State PDC authorities officially announced that migration into Thailand was illegal and migrant workers who tried to go into Thailand must be punished.  However, when the authorities or police could not receive money from those migrant workers, they could be punished.  

As an instance,

“On June 9, 2002, at night time, the authorities and police from Kaw-thaung Township of Tenasserim Division checked every guess in every town section and climbed up every house.  The town is in border area and opposite of Ranong, a well-known Thai town for fishing.  In a town section of Aung-say-tana, the authorities and police officers arrested about 11 young men and women with accusation they were illegal migrant workers who tried to move into Thailand.   Those young people camse from Mudon Township of Mon State, to seek works in that border town.

“The police also interrogated them and requested about 12, 000 Kyat from each of them.   The men and women refused and said they did not try to go to Thailand and they came to work in rubber plantation in Township area in Burma.   However, the police did not believe them and continued interrogating.   As most of them did not have money, they could not pay with amount asked by the authority.After they could not pay the authorities, the police also beat young men to admit that they planned to go into Thailand.   Four Mon young men, Mehm Kyi Soe (17 years old), Mehm Mon Myaing (17 years old), Mehm Kyi Soe (18 years old) and Mehm Kyaw Ko Ko (19 years old) are severely beaten by police while they were in detention.   Because of cruel beating, the young had to admit that they planned to go to Thailand.  After admission, the police officer brought them to court and were imprisoned for 6 months jail term with the charge of illegal migration into Thailand.”

In July and August, 2002, the SPDC also oppressed the migrant workers to Thailand and arrested of the civilians with suspicion of illegal workers and also gave a severe punishment against traffickers.

 

VIII. Conclusion

Under the rule of the military regime, the people have no any rights of freedom of expression and access to justice.   Although they have faced illegal and unlawful tax collection and other treatments such as movement restriction and torture, the people have no place to complain any of their cases.  

Unlawful fund collection, operating of gambling and movement restriction by SPDC authorities in various parts of southern Burma, have made the people to face deeper poverty conditions and created humanitarian crisis.  

 

 

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Information about Human Rights Foundation of Monland

&

Invitation for feedback from readers

 

Dear 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.  We apologize for the delay.

However, we also invite your feedbacks on the information we described in each newsletter and if you know anyone who would like to receive the newsletter, please send name and address to our address or e-mail as below:

HURFOM, P. O. Box 11, Ratchburana P. O.

Bangkok 10140, THAILAND

E-mail: mforum@np.anet.net.th

With regards,

Director

Human Rights Foundation of Monland