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. 10/2002; OCTOBER 31, 2002; MONTHLY PUBLICATION

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Text Box: CONTENTS:
News:
(1)	Forced labour in Ye-Tavoy road repairs
(2)	Paddy destroyed by flood, difficult for farmers to sell their paddy to regime
(3)	Guards in Kanbauk-Myaingkalay gas pipeline and forced laour
News in Brief:
SPDC’s various types of tax collection in Mon State

Report:
(1)	Human rights violations committed by DKBA and its unlawful activities

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Some Acronyms 
in this issue
SLORC-	State Law and Order Restoration Council,
SPDC-	State Peace and Development Council,
IB -	Infantry Battalion  (of Burmese Army),
LIB-	Light Infantry Battalion (of Burmese Army),
MOMC-	Military Operation Management Command (of Burmese Army),
DKBA-	Democratic Karen Buddhist Army,
NMSP-	New Mon State Party,
KNLA-	Karen National Liberation Army,
MNLA-	Mon National Liberation Army

COMMENTARY:

 

Welcome UN Resolutions for Improvement of Human Rights Standards

 

Since many previous years until this year, UN General Assemblies have asked Burma’s military regime, SLORC and SPDC to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to obligate the conventions it have ratified.  

Burma ratified for the rights of children and women; protection of the victims of war; protection of forced or compulsory labour and freedom of association and protection of the rights to organized adopted by ILO.  Therefore, the State party of Burma, SPDC, has to obligate the various international instruments in the field.  

However for several years, the regime has refused or has made delay to the international independent bodies to monitor human rights: labour standards; woman and child rights; violations against ethnic civilians in conflict area; and freedom of association and expression.   This is a clear sign that the regime has not welcomed political reform for democratization and positive political negotiation, although it claims ‘national reconciliation’.

It has some positive signs that the regime has cooperated with international organizations; such as cooperation with ICRC; appointment of ILO’s a liaison officer; and visits UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur on a regular basis.  

But it is not enough.   The mandate of international organizations or representatives to have access up to the areas where human rights conditions are still worst.   Additionally, there must be in need of serious pressure to the regime to cease all types of human rights violations committed by its authorities and members of Burmese Army.   

 

 

 

 

 

NEWS:

 

Forced labour in Ye-Tavoy motor road repairs

(October 2002, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division)

 

Starting from October 8 until 25, a local military battalion in Yebyu Towship, LIB No. 282 has forced many hundreds of Mon and Karen people in Ye-Tavoy motor road repairs.  

This motor road is over 100 miles long and connects Ye Town in Mon State and Tavoy town in Tenasserim Division.  The road repairs was done after rainy season (rainy season ends in September), because flood and rain water destroyed some parts of the road and water canals alongside of the road were also full with mud.  

LIB No. 282 commander, Lt. Col. Maung Aung led in the conscription of forced labour from local villages, which situates along the motor road.   The villagers from over 15 villages under Yapu, Aleskan, Kalein-aung and Pauk-pin-gwin village tracts of Yebyu Township were forced in the road repairs. 

The conscripts were forced in works laying stones (to be ready for tarring), digging water canals alongside of the road, clearing bushes and grasses alongside of the road and repairing some bridges.  

Villagers were instructed to carry their own foods from their homes and walked to work site every day if they were close.  By the instruction of the army commander, the village headmen asked one villager from each household to contribute their unpaid labour.    Piece of work for the villagers is: 3 villagers must complete all works laying stones; digging canals; and clearing grasses and bushes in 1 furlong length of the road.   

According to a villager from Aleskan village, they were ordered to work for 7 days in the work site to complete the duty.  If the work site was far from their villages, the villagers also had to travel by ferry to reach there.  They also had to pay ferry cost, 700-1400 Kyat depending on distance from their villages to work sites.   As they have to work for many days they also slept in army barracks at night.

In some houses, if men were working in farms, the women and children (under 18 years old) had to go instead of their fathers.  If one house could not go, they had to hire a substitute by paying 5000 Kyat for the whole work duty or for 7 days works.  

The village headmen managed on a rotation basis in sending the villager labourers to work site.  If they failed to manage they must be punished by Burmese Army.   At least one member of every family have to work in the work site.   The road repairs completed on October 25.

 

Paddy destroyed by flood, difficult for farmers to sell their paddy

In many parts of Mon State along Andaman seacoast, because of flood in the last rainy season and many farmers lost their plant and disappointed with the regime’s plan for purchasing paddy from farmers at low price.

Since the early of October, the authorities from Township’s Myanmar Agriculture Products Trade Department have entered many villages in Mon State and forced the farmers to sign a contract that promising they would sell the set amount of paddy to the government paddy-buying center after harvest.  Harvest time is normally in early December and farmers could complete all their cultivation activities. 

Regime authorities always pressured to farmers to sell their paddy crops to their paddy-buying centers first before they bring to their homes.   As the quality of lands is different from between one Township to another, the authorities orders to farmers also different.   According to orders Mudon Township’s farmers had to sell 15 baskets per acre of land while Ye Township’s farmers are instructed to sell 10 baskets per acre.   

However, farmers are too disappointed with this order because every farmer lost their paddy crops.   In northern part of Ye Township alone, the paddy in over 500 acres of agriculture lands are destroyed by flood.   Mudon Township has large farmlands and the farmers lost paddy crops in over 1000 acres of agriculture lands.   Flood lasted for nearly two months and farmers also lost chance to re-grow paddy plants again.   Replanting is only possible when the water level reduces. 

Some farmers in Ye, Mudon, Kyaikmayaw and Chaung-zon Townships in Mon State also informed about their crops conditions to the authorities who are responsibility in buying paddy crops.   But the authorities replied that crop damage or death of paddy is not their concerns, and the farmers needed to sell the full amount of paddy to paddy-buying center.

The regime forced the farmers to sell their paddy at low price, 300-350 Kyat per basket to their paddy-buying center.   Currently the paddy price in the market is 2000 Kyat per basket. 

Most disappointed situation is the farmers did not have available paddy crops for selling even at low price to the regime set paddy-buying.   Most farmers said they would face detention by the authorities if they failed to sell the set amount of paddy.

 

Guards for Kanbauk-Myaingkalay gas pipeline

(October 2002, Ye Township, Mon State)   

Since September, the villagers in the northern part of Ye Township have been forced to guard and sometimes are forced rebuild the embankment of Kanbauk-Myaingkalay gas pipeline, which passed close to their villages.

Villagers are forced to guard that gas pipeline both day and night and Burmese Army’s battalions, LIB No. 586 and IB No. 61 have responsibility in conscription of the villagers to use them in guarding gas pipeline and sometimes forced them for some repairs of pipeline embankment.

Due to flood in last rainy season, in some area of gas pipeline route, the earth above pipeline was thrown away and then the army ordered the villagers to fill earth onto pipeline.  In September, many villagers were forced to do this covering gas pipeline works.   At the same time, they were forced to guard the pipeline. 

In early October, LIB No. 586 commanders also went into villages and instructed to villagers to guard the pipeline both day and night, and if the pipeline was sabotaged they must have to take responsibility. 

According to a 50 years old woman from Kyone-por village, she said that the army commander ordered every household must take responsibility in guarding the pipeline and if the explosion occurs near their guarding place, they must be punished.  She added that the army threatened them they must face imprisonment for life.  If the gas pipeline was sabotaged near a village, the villagers from that village had to pay 10 million Kyat. 

Because of this order, many villagers would like to move from their villages.  However the villagers are not allowed to move from their villages, because the headmen worried there would be no villager left in the village. 

 

NEWS IN BRIEF:

 

SPDC’s Various Types of Tax Collection in Mon State

Tax for competition of paddy planting

(August 2002, Ye Township, Mon State)

In August 2002, when MOMC No. 19 commander Brigadier Ye Myint planned to arrange a competition for paddy planting in Lamine village’s farm, Ye Township, he ordered the authorities to collect money from the villages.  

This fund collection to spend for several expenses in competition.  They ordered the village headmen from Lamine village to collect this fund from villages under Lamine village tract.   There are 6 villages in that village tract. 

The authorities ordered to collect 300 Kyat from each household.  In 6 villages in this village tract, there are about 4000 households and the authorities could receive over 1 million Kyat fund in total.  

The authorities and army commander spent just small amount of money in giving prizes to winners in competition. 

A farmer said, ‘they got large money and they would not spend all money.  I think they would share among them’.  In Burma, corruption is always accompanying in every case of tax collection.  

 

Forcibly Education Fund

(July 2002, Ye Township, Mon State)

To equip a computer system in No. 2 Basic High School in Ye town, Township authorities collected large amount of fund from the people in town and villages.

In creating ‘multimedia and computer room’ in High School, as the authorities required about one million Kyat from Ye Town alone and MOMC No. 19 commander Brigadier Ye Win also ordered the authorities to collect fund from every town section. 

The authorities collected 100, 000 Kyat from each section and Ye Township has about 10 town sections.  Thus, the authorities could get one million Kyat totally for this purpose.

 

Police’s fund-raising program

(August 2002, Moulmein Township, Mon State)

In early August, the police officers forcibly sold tickets to civilians to watch boxing stage, with price of 1000 Kyat per sheet.

The police department planned to hold boxing stage in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State.   But when they sold tickets, they normally sold tickets to passengers or civilians from rural villages.   The nature of selling tickets was by force.   

They stopped ferries that came from various villages and towns to capital Moulmein at their check-point and forced the passengers to buy tickets with price of 1000 Kyat.  They sold tickets everyday since the beginning of August.   The cost of printing ticket was only 10 Kyat per sheet and they could make a huge profit.  

As they were sure that the civilians from the rural area could not enable to watch boxing in the capital, then they forced more and more passengers to buy tickets.  They could raise a lot of income.   Not only passengers in ferries, they also sold passengers who traveled by motorcycles.  Although many passengers refused they would not like to buy tickets, because they are not interested in boxing, but were forced to buy anyhow.  

From this selling tickets, the police department could receive some million Kyat and it greatly supports their fund-raising program.  They could not only spend for all administrative purposes of their office, but they could put into their pockets.

 

Fund for food to soldiers

(July 2002, Ye Township, Mon State)

The village headmen of Khaw-za village, southern part of Ye Township, collected 500 Kyat from every house on a monthly basis, to pay for food expenses that paid in feeding Burmese soldiers.  

Whenever Burmese soldiers (local name for members of Burmese Army) arrived into Khaw-za village, they always asked village headmen to provide them some food, especially rice and meat.  Additionally, they also asked liquor, beer, bervarages and cigarettes.   Village headmen had to manage and bought foods, beer, liquor, beverages and cigarettes with debt and promised to pay later. 

The Burmese Army’s military columns arrived into village many times.  Each time, the headmen had to feed at least 20 soldiers and sometimes, up to 200 soldiers.  Whether the number of soldiers were much or less the headmen needed to arrange for foods and other stuff for them.

For the headmen, they were too busy for this management because the Burmese soldiers came into village very often.  As an example, IB No. 61’s 70 troops went into village on 2nd July and stayed there for 3 days.   After only one day IB No. 61 troops left, another 60 troops from LIB No. 343 came into village again.  They stayed for another three days.  

Thus, the village headmen have to spend a lot of money for feeding different group of soldiers.  Burmese soldiers never brought their own food and just ask from the civilians. 

As Khaw-za village has about 800 households, the headmen could collect 300000-400000 Kyat from the villagers.  At the end of each month, the headmen had to pay all debts to shops from where they bought food and other stuff.  

 

Fund for hospital building

(August 2002, Ye Township, Mon State)

For the repairs of Ye town public hospital and to buy supplementary medicines, under the direction of MOMC No. 19, the Township and Village PDC authorities also collected fund from the civilians. 

The commander of MOMC No. 19, Brigadier Ye Win ordered to the authorities to collect 50000 Kyat from each section in town.   The authorities collected 50000 Kyat from each section in town and there were 10 sections totally.  

Again, the commander instructed to village authorities that they needed to collect 100, 000 Kyat from big village and 50, 000 Kyat from small village.  There are over 50 villages under full- or semi-control of PDC. 

On August 13, Township authorities and MOMC No. 19 commanders celebrated a ceremony for receiving donated money.  They totally received about 5 million Kyat in total from forcing the civilians to provide fund.  

According to a man from Ye Town said, ‘they forced us to pay money, but they declared in the ceremony that we voluntarily donate the money.   That is how they lie’.   This type of fund collection for hospital repairs and supplementary medicine supplies is done yearly.  

On villager from rural area said, ‘whenever the patients arrive to hospital for treatment, we do not see any medicines in hospital.  Now, they said they collect fund to buy medicines for hospital, but we always experienced buying medicines in shops outside of hospital’.

Health system the worst one in the world and the patients could not rely on.   However, the corrupted army commanders and authorities collected fund by showing health purpose.  

 

Arrest of women and fines from illegal lottery

(July 2002, Mudon Township, Mon State)

Police officers have allowed illegal lottery that copied from Thailand in Mon State and just collected tax from owners of that lottery business. 

However, on July 4, an police officer from nearer Kamawet police station, the area police officer Sergeant Hla Cho came to Yaung-daung, in southern part of Township and arrested two Mon women, Mi Khin Aye and Mi Aye Mon, who involved in selling lottery.    Mi Aye Mon was released when a village headman guaranteed for her. 

But Mi Khin Aye was brought to police station.  While the police officer brought her to police station, she also had to bring her 5 months old baby, and her 8 years old daughter also followed along her.  Police fined her to pay 50000 Kyat for release.   He relatives found that amount of money and paid to police for her release.  

 

 

REPORT:

 

Human Rights Violations Accounts of

DKBA and Its Unlawful Activities

 

I.                 DKBA formation under the SLORC regime

 

DKBA was initially the splinter armed organization from KNU (Karen National Union) after some commanders from KNU surrendered to Burmese Army.  It was formed with purpose by Burmese Army to fight against KNU since 1994.   In that year, there was a minor religious clash in KNU.   So, the Buddhist monks in Karen State did not satisfy on this conflict and so they accused KNU for religious discrimination.  

In 1994, Karen Buddhist monks led by U Thuzana organized the Buddhist community to not support KNU because they accused and propagandized that Christians have monopolized in the politics and army roles in the revolution organization.   Then, they formed DKBA by supports of the regime.   Due to a religious based split the Buddhist soldiers and commanders who were in KNU for several years fighting against the Burmese Army joined DKBA.   It also has political wing and it was called DKBO (Democratic Karen Buddhist Organization) and it was also led by that senior monk. 

From 1994 until 1997 when the Burmese Army launched massive military offensives against KNU/KNLA, its had used DKBA commanders and soldiers to help them in occupying many rebel bases, including KNU’s a well known GHQs, Manaplaw.  

When the regime and Burmese Army used DKBA soldiers, they also provided them with food ration and encouraged DKBA to recruit more soldiers.   Later, when the Burmese Army occupied many KNU strongholds and permanent GHQs, they ceased their assistance to DKBA and instructed to them that they needed to set up some program for self-reliance.

Again, after the regime ceased their supports and assistance to DKBA, it was unable to feed their soldiers and could not recruit the new soldiers.   Therefore, the regime encouraged DKBA commanders to do their own business.   As former KNU members, DKBA has been familier with border area, thus, they have conducted border trade via Myawaddy-Mae Sot border point, eastern part of Burma.  

On the other hand, they also took various contracts from SLORC/SPDC and did as suppliers in some development projects in Karen State, because the Rangoon regime instructed to DKBA to involve in the development in Karen State. 

In organizing DKBA commanders and their soldiers to not again collaborate with KNU, the regime SLORC/SPDC gave too much favour or opportunity to DKBA.  Additionally, they also have more freedom in dealing in trading activities than normal traders.   Accordingly to the local people in Karen State and Mon State, they said ‘you can do what you like under the flag of DKBA’.   That is ‘divide and rule’ policy of the regime and as long as DKBA is collaborating with them, the regime authorities have allowed the group to deal in every type of trading, including drug trafficking.

As an armed organization, the DKBA have copied many practices from soldiers of Burmese Army in committing human rights violations against Mon and Karen civilians in Mon State and Karen State.  DKBA mainly bases in Pa-an Township and also bases in other Townships such as Kawkareik, Kya-inn-seikyi, Three-Pagoda-Pass, and Kyaikmayaw, which are in both Karen and Mon States.

In the areas where DKBA is taking bases, the local civilians have been constantly suffered from various types of human rights violations by members of Burmese Army and DKBA.   Similarly to SPDC authorities and local military battalions of Burmese Army, DKBA also involved in implementing development projects especially in road constructions.  In most of such development projects, DKBA also conscripts forced labour and used hundreds of civilians to contribute unpaid labour.   Additionally, like Burmese Army, they have also conscripted forced labour in construction of the military barracks and to work in their self-reliance originated rice-farms and fruit and rubber plantations.  

DKBA also collecting tax and involved in many activities in repressing the civilians and abuses of power in both cities and rural areas.  Although the members of DKBA involved in some crimes, the regime’s law enforcement authorities could not punish them because of favour provided by SPDC top leaders.   These abuses of power also created dissatisfaction for anti-DKBA among the civilians.   However the civilians lost their rights for justice.

The following accounts are DKBA’s gross human rights violations in rural area: conscription of forced labour; discrimination or abuses of power against the civilians; tax or fund extortion; gambling and robbery activities; involvement in drug trafficking; and other abuses.

In the recruit method of DKBA, if someone joined DKBA as soldiers to build peace in Karen State, they would be free from the conscription of forced labour, tax payment and even free from some crimes.  By giving this favour, many Karen men joined to DKBA and it could increase the number of troops.   As DKBA currently does not have any activity to operate the military operations against KNU, however, they used these soldiers to protect the organization’s business.  

 

II. Conscription of forced labour

Whenever the regime SLORC/SPDC deal a ceasefire agreement, their leaders and authorities always promised that the group should involve for development activities of their own area.   In 1994, when SLORC authorities dealt ceasefire with DKBA, the SLORC promised that the State would provide fund for various development projects and asked DKBA to lead in the activities for those development projects.  In this type of implementing development projects, the local Burmese Army’s battalions or DKBA involved in conscription of forced labour.  

In where DKBA is taking base, they always confiscated the lands belonged to civilians or took many acres of lands which have no owners and then built the military barracks and created plantations.   Whenever they needed labour to clear their base compound, clear the plantation grounds, grow trees and other works, they always forced civilians from the area to contribute unpaid labour.

As DKBA has various works in their bases, they normally forced the civilians very regularly.   Depending on the work loads they have in the base, the numbers of forced labour were different.   Sometimes, when their works was urgent, they forced over one thousand of people in their specific workplace while they forced a few number of people in other time.

As an instance,

“On November 15, 2001, DKBA base in Kyon-doe village, Kawkareik Township forced one thousand of Mon and Karen civilians to clear their battalion compounds and garden for one day.   In this battalion base, DKBA took about 100 acres of land and planned to build their bases in one space and tried to create plantations in remaining parts of land.  The DKBA commanders forced the villagers from the villages nearby such as Kanni, Thadar-oo, Kaw-lyan, Kaw-khaik, Kaw-kyaik, Ywa-kalay and Kaw-slat.  

“In the verbal orders to the village headmen from these villages, the DKBA commanders ordered to send one man or woman to come and contribute labour in the work-site.   They ordered to carry their own food along with them.  From the morning until the evening, the villagers were ordered to clear small trees, bushes and grasses near their military barracks and the whole compound.   The commander who was responsibly in that conscription of forced labour is Maj. Sein Hlaing from Battalion No. 906.”

This Battalion No. 6 also often used small number of works in their minor battalion works from the villages nearby in Kawkareik Township.  Sometimes, this battalion also planted dry season paddy crop, which was grown in December and reaped in April, the DKBA commanders also forced 20-50 villagers every day in plowing land, planting paddy plants and reaping the paddy grains.   This paddy cultivation is also DKBA’s self-reliance program. 

Once or twice a year, DKBA conscripts a huge number of civilians to contribute unpaid labour in their battalion compound.  The conscript number is over 1000 people and forced one member from every house.

As another instance,

“Again, on August 12, 2002, Maj. Htay Naing conscripted over one thousand of villagers from the above-mentioned villages to contribute their labour in clearing small trees, grasses and bushes in its compound in Kyone-doe village, Kawkareik Township.   They forced the villagers to work for the whole day and did not provide any food for them.”

As Buddhism oriented organization, DKBA especially involves in religious affairs, and planned to build pagoda, dhamma (Buddhist teaching) building and other monuments.  Whenever in the construction of religious buildings, DKBA commanders concerned who took responsibility for the construction always forced the civilians near their villages to contribute unpaid labour in those constructions. 

As an instance,

“In September 2002, DKBA was building a dhamma building in Kyone-doe village, Kawkareik Township. To complete this building, DKBA mainly forced the villagers from Mon and Karen villages nearby.   They forced the villagers to carry building materials and painting the walls of the building. 

“Among many villagers, the villagers from Kanni village were often forced and when they conscripted the labourers, they ordered 36 villagers every day and this conscription continues for two weeks.  Kanni village has 12 sections, and the headman, Nai Kyaw Myint, had to manage to get 3 villagers from each section and sent to the construction site. 

“Similarly to Kanni village, the village headman from Kaw-lyan village had to manage to send 20 villagers everyday for about 2 weeks to the construction site.   The villagers had to go in early morning by boats and took their foods to eat in the construction site.   They also had to bring their own tools accordingly to the orders.”

While the villagers were forced to work the construction site, they also lose opportunity to work in their farms or plantations.   Some villagers were day labourers and on the day when they were forced to work for army, they could not get any income for their families.   For those day labourers, as the members of whole family depends on the man, lack of daily income create great difficult for their survival.   In this Kawkareik Township, a day labourer could get 500-800 Kyat depending on the works.  

If compared with Karen villages, the Mon villages which situates on Gyaing riverbank have more population and household numbers.  Therefore, to quickly complete of their work-duties, DKBA forced the Mon villagers more.  For several Mon villages, they could get up to one thousand number of villagers to use in their work-places.  

 

III. Gambling, Robbery and Tax Collection

Likely to SPDC authorities and Burmese Army, DKBA also raising their fund by collecting money from illegal gambling dens (especially playing card game) and collected tax from the civilians.   Sometimes they also involved in robbery.

Since 1996-1997, after the regime SLORC was unable to pay administration and other expenses for its respective Township General Administration Department and battalions under Burmese Army, it has instructed the authorities and army commanders to seek their own income to support in the administration cost.  This order again supports the authorities and army commanders to seek their own corrupted income from the people. 

Similarly to SPDC authorities and Burmese Army commanders, DKBA commanders and soldiers also involved in raising fund by their own way.   In 1998, after the regime occupied nearly all of KNU strongholds in eastern part of Karen State, it cut supports and assistance and asked DKBA to seek fund by their own way.

DKBA also copied the fund raising methods from the regime authorities.  What are they?   The regime authorities in Mon State and Karen State often set gambling dens in various cities, towns and villages, and collect tax from gambling because they provided protection to these dens.  During this gambling, the authorities encouraged the civilians in the area to involve.   The more civilians involved, the more they could get tax.   Similarly to the regime authorities, DKBA commanders often set the gambling dens in some villages and collected tax or fund from that gambling.

Whenever there is a village’s pagoda festival in area near their bases or under their control, DKBA commanders always planned to set up gambling dens and collect fund from the players. In most activities, DKBA always extent the period of gambling even the festival had a few days. Sometimes, even though there is no special occasion or villages’ pagoda festivals, DKBA commanders also conduct gambling activities and encourage the local villagers to involve in the activities.  

As an instance,

“The pagoda’s festival in Tha-dar-oo village, Kaw-lyan village tract of Kawkareik Township, was on 2nd and 3rd January 2002.  Although the village community leaders and monks disagreed, DKBA commanders from Kyone-doe village came and set about 50 gambling dens in initial day of festival day.  Although there was no more festival day on 4th January, but the DKBA commanders continuously conduct gambling dens for another 10 days.  They organized and encouraged the villagers nearby to involve in this gambling.  They collected 3000-5000 Kyat from one den each night and set 12 nights totally.  According to a village headman from the area, DKBA received about 2. 5 million Kyat fund in total.”

As another instance,

“In September 2002, there was no festival in Lon-lung village, Pa-an Township.  But when DKBA troops from Battalion No. 4 led by Lt. Saw Mee Mee arrived into village, as he wanted some money and he set up gambling den in village quickly.   They operated gambling for 10 days and set about 30 dens and informed the villagers who were interested to involve in playing card game.   They received about 0.5 million Kyat from that gambling.”

In Burma, casino and gambling are still illegal, according to the laws.   As the country has not proceeded ‘rule of laws’ for several years, under the rule of successive military regime, powerful authorities or army could engage in any illegal activities because the law enforcement authorities could not take any punishment against them.  

Additionally, SPDC authorities regularly collected fund from the people by showing various reasons.   DKBA similarly collected money or fund from the civilians with various reasons. 

As an instance,

“In November 2001, DKBA commanders called a meeting with all household, who belonged motor-bikes in Kanni Township, Kawkareik Township.   In them meeting, the commanders threatened that all motorcycles were stolen from Thailand and they could arrest the owners anytime.   There were 60 motorcycle owners in the village.   They added that the motorcycle owners needed to pay tax for their motorcycles.  He asked to pay 5000 Kyat and they will issue permission documents.   All motorcycle owners paid them because they did not want to have problem with DKBA.   Similarly to this village, they also went to another villages and asked tax from motorcycle owners.”

DKBA troops launch military activities patrol the areas near their bases and tried to prevent the access from KNLA soldiers.  During they are launching military patrol, they also went into many Mon and Karen villages and took foods from the villages.  Especially, whenever DKBA soldiers arrived into a village, the village headmen had to manage to provide foods for them.   But DKBA commanders or soldiers never paid any cost of foods.    Then after DKBA troops returned, the village headmen had to collect money from the villagers again to pay for food costs.

As an instance,

“Village headmen from En-duu village, Pa-an Township of Karen State, collected tax from villagers every month for providing foods to DKBA soldiers, who arrived into villages very often.   Each household had to pay 500 Kyat per month.  The village headmen had to provide DKBA soldiers with rice, various type of meat, liquor and cigarettes when they arrived into village.  En-duu village has about 500 household and so, the headmen had to spend 250, 000 Kyat per month for foods and other materials.”

Sometimes, by showing the reason of health or education development in the area like SPDC authorities, DKBA commanders also collected fund from the civilians.   In the area where DKBA takes bases, the civilians not only have to pay to SPDC authorities but they also have to pay DKBA for some development projects.  The civilians are too disappointed paying to both parties because they collected tax for the same reason.

As an instance,

“In mid-September, 2002, DKBA Battalion No. 4 based in Pa-an Township, Karen State, declared they would arrange football competition between villages in Township and all villages should participate in competition.  The reason of DKBA was for health development.  After declaration, it ordered the village headmen from all 54 villages in Township and instructed them they must collect 100 Kyat fund from each household to get available fund for football competition.  As they get the lists of household for every village, they ordered to get full amount of money from all villages.   Thus the headmen could not avoid even women headed household and collected money from them.  

“Many villages which paid to DKBA could not participate in competition, because of difficulty in traveling to town football grounds and only a few number of villages could involve.   According to a Township authorities, DKBA could receive 1.5 million Kyat in that fund collection and spent only 200, 000 Kyat for competition.    In this case, besides the fund collection conducted by DKBA, the civilians in the ”

In the activity of collecting permanent tax, DKBA also set check-points on many main roads such as on Three Pagoda Pass-Thanbyuzayat motor road, Myawaddy-Moulmein motor road and others.  Most roads are connecting Thai border points and a city in Mon State or Karen State, and DKBA always takes one place and set up their checkpoints.  These check-points were officially allowed by the regime to operate and DKBA has rights to collect tax from traders as they liked.   DKBA stopped all trucks and traders who involved trading between Thailand and Burma and checked every goods in check-points and asked tax from traders.   If the traders did not agree to pay them, they could confiscate their goods or stop trading.

According to a woman trader who used trading along Three Pagoda PassThanbyuzayat motor road, she said,

“In this motor road, there are many check-points hold various armed groups.  We have to pay every checkpoint after we left from Three Pagoda Pass (a border town with Thailand).  Although many other check-points have not make much problems, but DKBA always check every good, take some goods, and ask for high tax.  Even though they are familiar with our face as we have regularly traveled, they still refused to let us go without any trouble.  They never reduce the amount of tax and shout to us that if we do not want trade we can stop.   Their relationship is so bad.  Sometimes, they put us under hot sun for over one hour until they completed checking our normal goods.”

Many travelers and traders are always disappointed with DKBA when they faced them.  But for the security reason, DKBA troops always closely set their checkpoint and deploy their soldiers.  Sometimes, they were also attacked by KNLA soldiers.

When DKBA soldiers faced shortage of money or if they have opportunity, they also robbed some villages and took money and gold from villagers.  In many times, although the village leaders and villagers knew who involved in robbing, but they have to keep silence.   If the speak out something related to the robbery, they could face torture and detention by DKBA commanders in the area. 

Sometimes, DKBA did not rob the villages near the base but robbed in Mon State on the main road.   On the main road that connects from Rangoon to Tenasserim Division, there are many ferries, buses and private cars travel and DKBA soldiers also robbed from passengers.  

As an instance,

“On January 13, 2002, about 20 soldiers from DKBA’s Battalion No. 906 entered into a Mon village, Kanni, in Kawkareik Township at night and robbed about 5 houses, which were believed rich.  They received some money and gold wares from these houses and all worst about 1 million Kyat.  

“After robbery, one DKBA soldiers sold some gold wares in town and he sold them to a relative of Kanni villager, whose gold wares were robbed.   A Mon woman, Mi Nyunt, spoke out that gold wares were hers in a shop.  DKBA soldiers also heard about that and then they arrested her.   They brought her to their base in Kyone-doe village and tortured her to not speak out about robbery.  She was detained for one night.  Before release, they also threatened if she continued speaking about robbery, she must be killed.”

DKBA has used various method in collecting fund from the civilians including robbery.  In some types of fund collection, DKBA just copied from SPDC authorities and Burmese Army’s practices, but in another cases, DKBA used most cruel ways.  In general, the SPDC has less influence or authority in rural areas and DKBA overwhelmingly takes this opportunity and tried to extort money from the people in various ways.  

 

IV. Power Abuses

By holding guns, like the members of Burmese Army, DKBA soldiers always oppressed the ordinary civilians by pointing guns to them.   DKBA always claims there will be no justice if someone has problem with them.   In Pa-an Township, the capital of Karen State, DKBA also posted a banner that said ‘don’t get a quarrel with DKBA, if so, no justice can be trailed’.  This claims totally against the Buddhist teaching which always mention justices and truth. 

Without respecting justice, DKBA totally involves in power abuses than the SPDC authorities.  In the area where DKBA has influence, the conditions became as in lawlessness and chaos.  As DKBA receives great favour and power from SPDC top leaders, especially ceasefire organizer Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, they have not cared even SPDC local authorities and law enforcement police officers. 

Sometimes, DKBA commanders put their power or influence onto the civilians and some corrupted village headmen also cooperated with them.   Threatening, arrest, torture against the civilians are constantly committed by members of DKBA.

As an instance,

“In May, 2002, a corrupted village chairman of Kanni village (in Kawkareik Township), Nai Kyaw Myint forcibly bought a space of farmlands from a farmer, Nai Chit Maung, with price of 1.2 million Kyat worth.  Although the farmer did not want to sell but he was afraid and sold his land.   However, he also informed to one of his friend in Township office.  Then, Township authorities ordered the village chairman to return the land to farmer again.   Chairman could not refuse and return the land to farmer but he asked to pay him 1.4 million Kyat worth.  The farmer was quite surprised and refused to pay.  On the next day, the Chairman asked DKBA troops led by Maj. Maung Nge to threaten the farmer to pay 1.4 million Kyat.   The commander also pointed the gun to the farmer and asked to pay the amount requested by chairman.  The farmer had no choice but to pay.”

In Pa-an town, DKBA officially opened its office for business purpose and it has most influence in town.  As it never respect justice and existing laws, abuses and violations against the normal Mon, Burmese and Karen town residents are often committed.  Whenever there is a crime committed by DKBA soldiers, Township authorities, law enforcement police officers and army do not want to deal with and let DKBA win.  Lawlessness activities conducted by DKBA soldiers always occurs in town.   As an example, when DKBA rides a motorcycle, everybody in town needed to give them way, if not, someone who refused must be slapped.   Although town residents dissatisfied with the situation, but they have no way to against DKBA.

As an instance,

“On January 1, 2002, when a commander of DKBA drove a motorcycle and when he tried to get way, his motorcycle also hit a bicycle belonged to a town resident, Ko Aye Lwin, a man.  After hitting, the commander also beat Ko Aye Lwin and he said that the men had to pay him for repairs of his motorcycle, which was damaged just a little.   Then, they have argument each other and the man also beat the commander after he lost tolerance.   But the commander pulled out his gun and point to the man.  The commander also said, ‘why you try to beat me?  I am a DKBA commander.   You will be killed soon.’ 

“Then he beat the man several times and brought him to their battalion base.  His wife went and looked for him and DKBA commander asked his wife to pay 20000 Kyat for his release.  To end the problem, his wife paid the money and got her husband back home.  Community leaders, town residents and relatives of Ko Aye Lwin did not satisfy much to DKBA commanders and complained in Township police station.  But the police officer them, ‘we don’t want to handle any case that relating to DKBA soldiers.’   He also added, ‘not only you, we are also afraid of DKBA.’

“One Township also explained to relatives of Ko Aye Lwin that because of favour and power to DKBA came from higher authorities, they have given special opportunity to DKBA in town.  They are independent to hold gun both days and nights and could kill anyone.  He also pleased Ko Aye Lwin and his relatives to keep silence about the case.   If not, they could be killed.”

By studying this case, DKBA is the most powerful group in where they take base or open their offices, even in town.  It does not respect any people and the violations of laws or human rights by members of DKBA occurred on a daily basis is totally ignored.  

 

V. Discrimination against other ethnic people

In late 2001, there was a religious clashes between Muslims and Buddhist monks in Pegu, Prome and some Townships in Rangoon, the capital of Burma.   That clash originated from anti-Muslim sentiment among the Buddhist monks after September 11 attack in US.   That sentiment also effected among members of DKBA because the organization was based on Buddhism.  

In DKBA, most of its members have anti-Muslim sentiment and accused the civilians who believe in Muslim as religious extremists.  Therefore, whenever the DKBA soldiers met Muslims in villages, in farms or in forests, they always beat them.  Torture against the Muslim people often committed by DKBA commanders or soldiers, and when that torture happened, DKBA always accused that these Muslim people were directly related to Muslim political or terrorist group. 

As an instance,

“On February 12, 2002, when DKBA troops led by Maj. Nga Kywe (son of a battalion commander Col. Mehm Tin Nyein) launched the military patrol in western part of Kya-inn-seikyi Township, they also arrested a Muslim farmer.   When they arrived close Tagundaing village, they found that Muslim farmer, U Ra Dhi (about 50 years old) in his farm and arrested him.   After arrest, they brought him with them and tortured him during their interrogation whether he was involving in politics or not.  Although the man replied he was a farmer and never involved in politics, they slapped, beat and kicked him.   Because of cruel torture, he was seriously injured. After DKBA soldiers left from the village, the villagers brought him to town hospital for treatment.”

Additionally, DKBA always claims that they are representing the Buddhist Karen people and their activities would benefit to only their ethnic people and not for other people.  With narrow-minded nationalistic idea, the members of DKBA have widely involved in discrimination against Mon people especially. 

There were many instances of discrimination against the Mon people in the area.   Even in the conscription of forced labour, DKBA commanders selected Mon villages and ordered the village headmen to send labourers to contribute unpaid labour, while sometimes they did not order Karen villagers to contribute labour.   Similarly when DKBA decided to collect tax from fishermen who fished along Gyaing river, they just selected the Mon fishermen and ordered them to pay tax to them in early 2002.  There were nearly 200 fishermen in the area, who have livelihood of fishing in river. 

For many years, DKBA also involved in human trafficking to Thailand.   As they planned to monopolize in human trafficking into Thailand, they again oppressed against the Mon traffickers who brought migrant workers to Thailand by their own plan.   When they could not traffickers, they also made problems to their parents or relatives.

As an instance,

“On February 27, 2002, a group of DKBA soldiers led by Lt. Maung Hla Nge went inot Port-gyi-gone village, Kawkareik Township, and arrested a Mon woman, Mi Kun Hale (60 years old) and tortured her.   DKBA soldiers arrested her with accusation that her son was a trafficker for migrant workers to Thailand failed to send Karen workers, who were relatives to DKBA soldiers.   She even did not know about her son work and said to DKBA commander that her son left from homes for several months.  But they still accused her son took some money from Karen people, and asked her to pay.  She also refused and did not know anything about that.  Then she was severely tortured.   Then they requested her to give them 700, 000 Kyat ransom for the release.   After her relatives paid that amount of money, they released her.”

Even in villages, towns and cities, when there is clash between young people between Karen and other ethnic people Burman or Mon, they always involved from the side of Karen and threatened other ethnic people.   Beating against young Burman or Mon like in Pa-an Town and in Mon villages in Kawkareik Township often occurred.

 

VI. DKBA’s involvement in drug trade

DKBA is also holding border points in Burma, like in Myawaddy and Three Pagoda Pass, in where Thailand and Burma agreed for trading.  They officially opened their liaison offices in these border towns and involved in trading with Thailand.   In official way, DKBA organized many trucks from Mon State and Karen State and carried Thai goods to Burma, from which they could get a lot of profit. 

Later in 1998, after SLORC/SPDC cut support and assistance to DKBA and gave instruction for self-reliance program, DKBA started involved in drug trafficking.  DKBA could easily contact drug or methamphetamine produced organization in Shan State and bring to lower part of Burma.    Then they could carry them into Thailand.  After Thai army blocked many secret border points and roads that were used for drug trade, most methamphetamine trade shifted to Karen State and DKBA has involved more in that drug trade.

As mentioned above, DKBA received great favour from SPDC leaders and they could involve in any type of trade, even in drug trafficking.   As DKBA put sticker of their organization flag in trucks, no police or army checkpoints along the road could check their trucks and goods in there.  Thus, DKBA has good opportunity to carry drug from Shan State or somewhere they could get drug, to Karen State easily.

After Wa ethnic armed group could not send much methamphetamine via Shan State into Thailand, DKBA has more opportunity to deal in this trade.   When the Burmese Army commanders who did not know about DKBA trade tried to check their trucks in their normal duty, sometimes, fighting Burmese Army and DKBA also occurred.

As an instance,

“On August 27, 2002, when a truck of DKBA which carried drug entered into Pa-an town, the capital city of Karen State, and the soldiers of Burmese Army’s LID No. 22 tried to check it.   DKBA commander and soldiers from Battalion No. 999 who guarded the truck refused to stop their trucks.  When the Burmese soldiers barred them Karen soldiers shot into the group.   Burmese soldiers also shot back to Karen soldiers and the fighting lasted about 5 minutes.   Three Burmese soldiers died on the spot and some got serious injuries while one Karen commander died.   However, the truck could leave from the check-point quickly.   When the commander of LID No. 22 reported about the case to GHQs in Rangoon, they were ordered to keep silence.”

Many bottom level of Burmese soldiers also angered to DKBA for illegal trade activities and over use of power.   But SPDC has to keep DKBA for their political game.   Because it needs the opposition of KNU and uses DKBA to show to the international community as an organization representing Karen people.  

With drug money, DKBA also has opportunity to increase the number of their troops, they could involve more in launching more illegal business, such as stealing cars, motorcycles from Thailand, producing methamphetamine pills and imported into Thailand, and human trafficking.   As long as the regime in Rangoon blinds their eyes in these activities, at the same time, DKBA creates great risk to the local people.  

 

VII. Conclusion

In rural areas where DKBA troops are taking bases, the Mon, Karen and other ethnic people faced not only oppression by SPDC authorities and Burmese Army, but they also suffered from the violations and other abuses committed by DKBA.   ‘Power comes from gun barrels’ is the politics in the areas and the people cannot find any justice.  Inhumane treatment regardless of respecting Buddhist principles, DKBA, which is named as Buddhism based organization, are constantly committed by it members.  Basic Buddhist teaching such as to be kind on others, to keep passion each other and to offer the poor are practiced by DKBA, but it practices in opposite.

Why does SPDC keep DKBA as their best friend?   This is also come out the regime policy of ‘divide and rule’ among the Karen ethnic people and gives more favour to DKBA.  The regime leaders blind their eyes for what DKBA does.   Reasoning that there are many conflicts even in one ethnic nationality, the rights to self-determination for various ethnic nationalities in Burma is impossible.   Whenever the international community asks regime for national reconciliation and to accept tri-partite negotiation to include ethnic representatives to negotiation table, the regime could refuse by showing the division in the ethnic people.  Actually, DKBA ends up in the political games of the regime, SPDC.

 

 

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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