News, Personal Accounts, Reports & Analysis on Human Rights Situation
Electric Publication by
HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION OF MONLAND
The Mon Forum
ISSUE NO. 9/2002;
create humanitarian crisis in
2002, it is a news that a group of Mon villagers including some farmers from
Kamawet village in
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
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
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.
In the morning of
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
During August and September, many parts
“Now, the rice cost is too expensive
and is about 6000 Kyat per basket (the rice measurement in
Kamawet village is the biggest village
Unlikely to the previous years, the
rice price this year has been expensive.
Kamawet village is the biggest village even in
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.
About 11 Mon villages situating along
Gyaing river in
Gyaing river flows from
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
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
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,
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
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.
SPDC and its supporters: in deep cycle of corruption and fund collection
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
Later, as they have good momentum, the fund collection
processes involved of setting gambling dens in various towns and villages in
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
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.
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
As an instance,
the entrance of Ye Town,
“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.
this case, the
“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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
As an instance,
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
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
As an instance,
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 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,
was a fire incident happened in Lamine village, Ye Township, on
“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
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,
January 2002, SPDC officially planned to send migrant workers to
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.
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,
“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
Due to unemployment conditions in
As an instance,
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
In July and August, 2002, the SPDC also oppressed the
migrant workers to
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
Information about Human Rights Foundation of Monland
Invitation for feedback 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. 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:
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Bangkok 10140, THAILAND
Human Rights Foundation of Monland