The Mon Forum

5/2003 (31 May 2003)

 

Contents

News

Another land confiscation in Ye Township for artillery regiment

A child soldier refuses to return home as fear of killing

 

Report


Population Displacement is Humanitarian Crisis in Burma

I.
Background of armed conflict in Burma

II. Burmese Army’s military strategies against the ethnic armed oppositions

(1) Forced relocation
(2) Movement Restriction
(3) Confiscation or Devastation of crops
(4) Burning down the villages


III. The number of IDPs

IV. Population Displacement in Mon Territory in Year 2002
Kya-inn-seikyi Township
Ye Township and
Yebyu Township

 V. Related Food-shortage problems

VI. Conclusion and Recommendations

 

News

Another land confiscation in Ye Township for artillery regiment
(May 2003, Ye Township, Mon State)

Burmese Army confiscated about 600 acres agriculture lands near a Mon village, Morkanin, northern part of Ye Township of Mon State, with a plan to construct a base for a new artillery regiment.

Burmese Amry plan to construct a base for Artillery Regiment No. 317 and confiscated lands of rubber and fruit gardens between two Mon villages, Morkanin and Htitkayin, which are belonged to the civilians.

“Like the previous confiscation, they (the army) did not pay compensation. Without informing, they just came and took the lands” said by local villagers.

The newly deployed AR No. 317 is under the command of Artillery Division No. 606. In this land confiscation, the regiment commanders took more lands than their requirment for a base.

Accordingly to a person who know the rules in the Burmese Army said, “normally, to deploy a battalion or regiment, it needs only 300 acres of land in maximum, they could not confiscate more than that”.

The SPDC regime has a plan to deploy about 10 artillery regiments in Mon State and currently they have deployed about 9 regiments already.

In the previous years, thousand acres of lands belonged to the local civilians were confiscated by SPDC and Burmese Army, in their deployments of both artillery regiments and infantry battalions.

No compensation has been paid in any compensation and that made civilians to be angered and disappointed. Land confiscation also creates negative impacts of unemployment.

Some families left to Thailand and other neighbouring countries to seek work for income, but many families remained in the villages without lands, works and employment.

 

A child soldier refuses to return home as fear of killing
(May 2003, Three Pagoda Pass)

After deporting by Thai authorities to a border point in Three Pagoda Pass area of Burma, an orphan child soldier from Burmese Army (BA) refuses to return his home because he is afraid of being killed if re-arrested by his commander.

Child soldier, Soe Min, is 16 years old and he fled from Burmese Army’s Infantry Battalion No. 101 based Mergui District in Tenasserim Division, southernmost of Burma. When he was in his battalion, he was detained and seriously tortured by a Major after he complained about insufficient food fed by the battalion. Then when the battalion was in front-line, he decided to flee into Thailand. He was arrested by the Thai police and imprisoned for one week for illegal migration into Thailand, and he was deported back to the border together with many Burmese migrant workers.

Soe Min has Burmese Army’s ID No. 230597 and he was born in Pyin-wa village in Delta area of Irrawaddy Division. His father was U Maung Win and mother was Daw Myint Htwe.

When asked why he refused to return home, he said that he fled from front-line and it was a serious guilty in army. The battalion commanders also ordered that if someone who fled in the front-line was re-arrested, he must be killed. He said that he is afraid to return home.

After both of his parents passed away, Soe Min, has stayed with his uncle and but later as he did not stay and when some soldiers from BA’s Recruitment Battalion No. 93 organized him, he agreed to join BA.

While 40 new recruits were attending the basic military training in Thaton town in Mon State, there were about 16 children including him were trained. While he was at IB No. 101, he complained about insufficient food in battalion, he was detained and beaten by Major. Soe Naing.

He attended for military training school for 4 months, stayed at battalion base for one week and then was sent for 6 months to front-line in offensives against the rebels. Although the commanders in the battalion said his salary was 4500 Kyat per month and he could receive 5000 Kyat per month if he was in front-line, but he actually received 500-800 Kyat. Major. Soe Naing took most of his and other new recruit soldiers’ salaries. As he could not tolerate for the torturing in the battalion, that was he decided to flee, said by the child soldier.

Accordingly to the report issued by Human Rights Watch last year, the Burmese Army has about 70000 children in its 400, 000 strong army.

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Report

Population Displacement is Humanitarian Crisis in Burma

I. Background of armed conflict in Burma

The civil war started since Burma (Myanmar, the official name by the current regime, State Peace and Development Council – SPDC) retained Independence from British colony, Burma have developed armed conflict due to the country’s constitutional problems. In the population of Burma, over 60% of the population are the majority Burman people, who stayed in Proper Burma (middle of Burma) and the remaining are the different ethnic nationalities, which consists of non-Burman ethnic groups such as Kachin, Chin, Arakanese, Shan, Mon, Karenni, Karen, Pa-oh, Palaung, Wa and others.

In the newly independent Burma, although the political system was ‘democracy’, however, the equal rights to the ethnic nationalities was not guaranteed. Although Burman leader, Gen. Aung San, negotiated and agreed with ethnic leaders to form Burma, as ‘Federal Union’, his promise disappeared after he was assassinated by his rival Burmans.

During over five-decades of civil war in Burma, between the Burmese Army and ethnic armed groups, hundreds of thousands of non-Burman people have suffered because of the conflict and war. At the same time, the majority Burman people have been suffered economically because the government concerned and the Burmese Army expensed a lot of State budget in war.

No side won in the civil war, even the Burmese Army has gradually increased its troop numbers. The rebel groups have also used guerrilla tactics against the Burmese Army. The armed conflict or civil war has intensified and passed about four ruling eras after independence. These eras are: Parliamentary era (1948-1962), the era of Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) led by Gen. Ne Win (1962-1988), State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) era (1988-1997) and the current regime, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

During SLORC era (which has the similar leaders in SPDC), some ethnic armed groups dealt with the ruling regime for ceasefire and for the development of their own areas. However, some ethnic armed organizations did not like to agree to deal in ceasefire, because they believed the regime would not guarantee their political demands.

Therefore, the war and fighting in many parts of border areas, especially in the areas bordering with Thailand, have still continued and intensified. To win war, the troops of Burmese Army used many tactics including oppressing the civilians to not contact rebel solders or to be fear if they support the rebels.

The Burmese Army have always suspected the ethnic civilians in the rural areas as rebel-supporters and it has tried to cut any support and assistance from these civilians to the rebel soldiers. As a result, there are gross human rights violations in the non-Burman ethnic nationalities’ areas and population displacement.

II. Burmese Army’s military strategies against the ethnic armed oppositions

In 1962, after Gen. Ne Win seized the political power from the democratically elected government in Rangoon, then he planned for a sham peace talk with all armed oppositions, including Burma Communist Party. Peace negotiation did not succeed and the arm fighting between Burmese Army and armed opposition has been intensified. Other ethnic armed groups, such as Shan and Kachin also joined in ‘armed struggle’ with Karen, Mon and Karenni.

To win the war against the ethnic armed groups or to weaken them, the Burmese Army have used ‘four cuts campaign’ strategy for several years during 1970-80s in their attempt to cut all supports from the civilians to the rebel army concerned. Rebel groups have used ‘water and fish’ policy to rely on their own ethnic people to get all supports in their armed struggle and establish the political power. To weaken this policy, the Burmese Army ‘four cuts campaign’ to cut supply, information, recruit and shelter that supported from the ethnic civilians in the rural areas to the ethnic armed groups. It means the Burmese Army tried to dry the water pool and let the fish died without getting water.

In this campaign, the Burmese Army had done the following methods to cut all supports from the civilians to the rebels. The campaign have created ‘polulation displacement’ in the ethnic rural areas of Burma.

(1) Forced relocation

Since 1980s, the Burmese Army intensified its troop number and at the same time, it has launched more intensive military offensives against the ethnic armed forces to cease all their activities in the rural areas. The rebel troops normally deployed their bases in the border area and launched their military operations against the Burmese Army and central government in rural areas. During their military operations, the rebel soldiers tried to get supports from the ethnic civilians concerned in terms of foods an information. The Burmese Army has frustrated for the supports from the villagers and therefore, they tried to relocate many ethnic villages from rural areas close to their bases or close to their main roads, where they could easily control.

Most ethnic villages in forestry areas have 10 to 500 households depending on the geographical conditions and those villages were ordered to move into the Burmese Army set resettlement camps. The Burmese Army did not provide any assistance to those villagers, but they just ordered the villagers to move from the villagers within set days, one week or one month.

When the villagers left from their villages into the Burmese Army set relocation camps, they have to abandon most of their properties such as lands, livestock, houses, gardens and others. They could bring only a few of their clothes and household materials. Most of the villagers would not like to enter into these resettlement camps. But they could not refuse.

As the New Mon State Party entered for ceasefire, there has been less forced relocation of the villages in Mon areas. However, the Burmese Army has constantly involved in forced relocation of the villagers in Karen State, Kayah State and Shan State, where the ethnic armed forces launched the military activities.

Hundreds of villages in these States have been ordered to move into resettlement camps or relocation camps set by the Burmese Army. If they refused, they anyhow have to flee from their villages and hide in the forest.

Although when the government and Burmese Army planned to relocate the villages into relocation camps and to the main roads to cut all supports from the civilians to rebel soldiers, however, in reality, thousands of villagers displaced. Because many families did not want to abandon their villages.

(2) Movement Restriction

In rural areas, most villagers are the farmers and they have survived from receiving the crops from their agriculture, such as paddy, corn, sesame, cane, peanut, and other fruits. Most of their farms or plantations are locating outside of the villages and the farmers have to walk and work on a daily basis or something they sleep in the farms or plantations.

The Burmese Army is always suspecting the local farmers who stay at farms or at the plantations as supporting the rebel soldiers with foods, information and as guides. The rebel soldiers actually rely on these farmers for many things in their activities. The Burmese Army normally suspected all farmers are supporting the rebel and therefore, they tries to restrict their movement or their daily works.

Many farmers were also killed by Burmese (or tatmadaw) soldiers with the suspicion of rebel-supporters. Many farmers were tortured when the soldiers are interrogating them about the activities of the rebel soldiers. Or, when the Burmese soldiers found some evidence that the rebel soldiers used the road close to a farm or took foods in the farms, the farmers could be arrested and tortured. During the cruel torture, those farmers could receive serious injuries or died.

Later, the Burmese Army tried to stop the farmers to work in their farms or to stay longer than one day. First, they instructed to the farmers that the farmers must go to their farms only with a permission of the village headmen. If they met the farmers without village headmen’s permission, they must be killed or suspected as rebel soldiers. Then, they also instructed that the farmers must need the permission letter from the battalion commanders from a Burmese Army’s battalion nearby.

The restriction against the local farmers have been more and more intensive. The farmers were allowed to leave their farms early morning after 6 o’clock and must arrive back to their homes in villages in the evening before 6 o’clock. Even they went to their farms early morning and returned homes in the evening, the farmers still have to ask permission from the local army commander and village headmen.

This movement restriction against the villagers or farmers affect a lot of their livelihood and their crop production. Some farmers also abandoned their farms or their plantations and changed another works. Similarly to the forced relocation done by the Burmese Army, the movement restriction against the villagers or farmers also created the population displacement.

 (3) Confiscation or Devastation of crops

The Burmese Army knows the available food supply or rice or paddy is very important for the rebel soldiers to survive and to have food during their military operations. By many ways, the Burmese Army tried to cut food supplies to not reach to the rebel soldiers.

Normally ethnic farmers have grown their paddy in ‘slash and burnt’ method in hilly areas and they could plant permanently in some lands but in some areas, they have to shift their farms on a regular basis, 3 or 4 years cultivation. In most situation, the farmers have to stay at their farms to take care the plants: such as uprooting other grass plants; preventing the attacks by animals and insects; providing natural fertilizer and other activities. While the farmers or sometimes including their families stay at their farms to do their daily works and thus, they have to keep foods, especially rice or paddy at their farms. But storage of these food supplies is dangerous for Burmese Army.

When the Burmese Army launched the military offensives against the rebel, they also tried to confiscate some foods from farmers in farms and collected in one place. The Burmese Army controlled all of these crops and they did not let the villagers keep them. They provided just food rations to the villagers.

Sometimes, during the harvest seasons when the paddy are getting ripe, if the Burmese Army could not bring all crop grains to their military bases, or to the villages where they could control, they just burn the crops down. The Burmese soldiers sometimes burnt down large area of paddy farms in hilly areas with a purpose to cut all food supplies that could be accessible for the rebel soldiers.

When they met the paddy stocked in the forest or in farms, they took some for their foods and then burnt down these supplies into ashes. Burning down the rice and other food supplies of the local farmers outside of the villages not only cut the supplies that could reach to the rebel soldiers, it also created suffering of food-shortage of the local farmers.

 (4) Burning down the villages

In the ‘four cuts campaign’ of the Burmese Army, they also believed that many rural villages are as shelters for the rebel soldiers and therefore, when they arrived into these villages, they also burnt those villages down into ashes. When the Mon political party, NMSP and its armed force, Mon National Liberation Army (MNLA) operated the military operations against the Burmese Army before it deal in ceasefire, many Mon villages in the rural villages were burnt down into ashes.

The main purpose of burning down of these villages is to vacant the ethnic population in the rural areas, where they believed those villages were used by the rebel soldiers for sheltering. The Burmese soldiers also believed that the villagers in the villages also supported the rebel soldiers and therefore, they tried to drive out the villagers from the villages.

As an instance,

In July 1994, a Mon village, Baleh Done-phai, which resettled with the Mon refugees who were forcibly repatriated by Thai authorities in early 1994, was totally burnt down into ashes by the Burmese Army’s IB No. 62. Actually, the Burmese Army burnt down this village with an attempt to cut the villagers’ supports for shelters or foods to the Mon soldiers. Thousands of Mon refugees fled into Thailand to take safe haven, but again they were forced back.

Similarly, in March 1995, the Burmese Army from LIB No. 282 also burnt down a Mon village, Kyauktayan village, which has 300 households located in northern coastal areas of Yebyu Township and all villagers dislocated. The Mon rebel soldiers normally went into these villages to take shelthers in there and to get foods, especially sea foods and rice. Thus, the Burmese Army came and burnt it down.

After 1995 NMSP-SLORC/SPDC ceasefire, although less Mon villages from Mon areas were burnt down, however, many villages in Shan territory, Karenni territory and Karen territory have been constantly burnt down and the Burmese Army tried to vacant the villagers from many villages.

After the villages were burnt down, the villagers have no place to stay and if they went back to their burnt villages, they were afraid of being arrested by the Burmese soldiers again. Normally, the soldiers from Burmese Army normally ordered the villagers to not return back to their villages again. If they were re-arrested in their burned village, they must be killed or face serious tortures.

Other inhuman treatments

Besides the situation that created population displacement above, therefore many other reasons that created the ethnic villagers to flee from their villages. Inhuman and serious torture; rape against women, constant use of forced labour and porter, and levying constant high tax, and putting land-mines also created the population displacement or encourage to flee from the village communities.

When a family member was suspected by the soldiers from Burmese Army as them rebel-supporters, they were always tortured or seriously beaten. After the inhumane torture, that villager would be too afraid to stay on in their villagers and then planned to flee from the villages. In most rural areas, many civilians: especially farmers in farms or plantations; members of social groups such as teachers, monks, village leaders, were constantly tortured during the Burmese Army’s interrogation to them to know the activities of the rebel soldiers.

Rape or sexual violations is the serious human rights violations against women in the conflict zones of ethnic rural areas. It has been used as a ‘strategy’ by the Burmese Army to win war against the ethnic rebels. Hundreds of women from Karen and Shan ethnic territories were raped by individual members or commanders of the Burmese Army, or, in many cases, the ethnic women were gang-raped by the soldiers. This violations created the serious suffering in many families and thus those families tried to flee from the villages.

Burmese Army does not have not good logistic system to supply food, medicines, ammunition and necessities to the soldiers in frontlines. Whenever the Burmese Army launched the offensives against the rebels, they always arrested many villagers in the village communities to carry all supplies including basic foods, medicines, ammunition and others along the jungles. Porter service to the Burmese Army was dangerous and hard. The Burmese soldiers forced the civilian porters from many hours everyday to carry these supplies and were not allowed to take enough rest. They normally have to carry loads and climb the mountains with these heavy loads. Sometimes, when there was fighting, those porters were also forced to be human-shields. The porters were also forced to pass the mine-fields. The porters, who had bad experience during the porter service always tried to flee after they arrived to their villages, to escape from arrest as porter for another time.

After the Burmese Army seized the political power and formed the military government, it has constantly involved in the implementation of infrastructure projects. In these projects, the local Burmese Army’s battalions have involved in conscription of forced labour from the rural civilians. The civilians were constantly forced until one project completed and they did not have their own time to work in their agriculture.

For example, when the military regime constructed 110 miles long YeTavoy railway road from 1993 to 1998, the soldiers from the battalion concerned had used hundreds of thousands of Mon, Karen and Tavoy ethnic in Ye, Yebyu and Tavoy Townships in the southern part of Burma to construct the road. The villagers had to work about 15 full days in the construction works and they have no time to work in their farms. After the villagers or the farmers have no work, the people have no money and as a result, many villagers fled from the village communities to escape from the conscription of forced labour.

In the conflict situation of Burma, both Burmese Army and rebel armies have planted land-mines to protect their bases or outposts and their resources. For example, the Burmese Army planted a lot of land-mines near ‘Lawpita’ electric generating plants in Karenni (or Kayah) State to prevent the possible attacks by the rebel army. However, the civilians in the area could not go and work in the area because of these land-mines. The civilians also lost their livelihoods and also flee to another areas.

The population displacement problem in the rural ethnic areas of Burma is continual problem and in most cases, the displacement happens not only because of one cause and it combined to many causes and then the local village families decided to flee from homes. It is quite difficult for every family to decide to abandon and left their homes. In most situation, when the families have no choice or are threatened to be killed at their villages, then they decided to flee. In other case, when some poor families faced food shortage problems, then these families decided to flee from their homes.

III. The number of IDPs

According to unconfirmed information and estimation from the opposition political parties, the total number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is nearly 1 million and most of them are in eastern and southern parts border areas with Thailand, and the remaing are even displaced in the regime’s full control areas. The displacement occurs not only because of armed conflict, but also because of the regime’s infrastructure development projects.

Since 1980s, the population number of IDPs have constantly increased as the Burmese Army intensified its military offensives against the rebel armies along the border areas. Thousands of the rural ethnic villagers also fled into Thailand to take refuge in there. While there were more and more Karen refugees in Thailand, similarly there were more number of IDPs in the ethnic area.

After 1990, the Burmese Army could occupy any rebel bases along the border areas and the villagers, who were under the protection of these rebel administration fled into Thailand and thousands of them displaced. Villagers, who would not like to abandon their properties and lands have remained displacing near their village areas and if they have chance they returned to their villages again.

The violations against the ethnic civilians by the soldiers of the Burmese Army has not been reduced and more cruel and inhumane. More sexual violations or rapes were committed by their soldiers and they believed that that was the punishment to the ethnic villagers for their supports to the rebel soldiers.

On the other hand, since 1995, Thai government did not want to receive more refugees in Thailand accordingly to its security policy. This policy has also affected a lot of population displacement in southern part of Burma. The ethnic civilians, who fled from war and serious human rights violations from Burma were not accepted to take refuge in Thai refugee camps and were forced back to Burma.

The population number of IDPs has increased every year in border areas with Thailand from southern part of Shan State to Tenasserim Division. (See the map). Accordingly to the source of the ethnic relief organizations, there were over 600, 000 IDPs in year 2002 and they were displaced in the different places: various hiding places and in SPDC controlled relocation camps. This number excluded the number of IDPs who fled into towns or other big villages (but not relocation camps) under the control of military regime. However, the relief organizations have access to only some number of IDPs and provides assistance as much as they could in a very dangerous situation.

When there was the military offensives or forced relocation conducted by the Burmese Army, some families who have some money or who could sell their properties escaped to nearest towns or villages, which are under the control of SPDC and tried to settle there. When they arrived into these villages, they could have less suffering than in the situation they stayed in their villages. They would be not suffered being accused as rebel-supporters and if they are in towns and in some villages under the control of the regime, they could suffer from paying tax and contributing unpaid labour. It is difficult to estimate the IDPs number who moved from conflict area into SPDC control areas.

In SPDC control areas, when the Burmese Army or the local authorities implemented development projects such as building bridges, road and pipeline, some families in the project site are also forced to move their houses and so that many families even in SPDC control areas have been displaced. Because they are not provided with land spaces and new livelihood after they forced to move from the villages.

There fore, the total number of IDPs, which included both numbers of displacement because of armed conflict and development projects, could be close to 1 million population.

IV. Population Displacement in Mon Territory in Year 2002

Mon territory includes the areas in southern part of Burma, where the majority of Mon people live. Although the NMSP agrees for ceasefire with the current regime, however, the fighting outside of NMSP controlled areas have been intensified. During the war between the NMSP/MNLA and the Burmese Army, many Mon villages were similarly destroyed by the troops of Burmese Army. Thousands of the Mon people have been displaced and many of them took sheltering in NMSP territory.

Some destroyed Mon villages were re-established after ceasefire. However the ceasefire is not the final solution for the armed struggle and political settlement in Burma. Although the Burmese Army ceased their fighting against the MNLA, but on the other hand, they have violated various types of human rights violations. Even after the Mon ceasefire with the regime, thousands of Mon civilians have been forced to contribute their labour in the government’s development projects.

Some former Mon soldiers from MNLA, who dissatisfied on the constant use of forced labour especially in the construction of 110 miles long Ye-Tavoy motor road, also resumed fighting against the military regime. They started their fighting in early 1998 again outside of NMSP and the regime agreed ceasefire zones. Therefore, the small scale armed fighting have occurred against in Ye Township (in Mon State) and Yebyu Township (in Tenasserim Division).

Although NMSP/MNLA agreed for ceasefire with the regime, but KNU (Karen National Union) and its armed faction, Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) has still operated the miltary fighting against the Burmese Army. Accordingly to the ceasefire agreement, NMSP received 12 permanent ceasefire zones and they have control full control in these areas. However, many areas outside of permanent ceasefire zones are in conflict situation and many Mon population are still living in there.

The Mon villagers outside of the regime’s firm control area and NMSP’s 12 permanent ceasefire zones are still accused as ‘rebel-supporters’. In this situation, thousands of Mon villagers still displaced similarly to other ethnic people in the various parts of eastern and southern part of Burma.

Mon Relief and Development Committee (MRDC), a Mon relief organization based in Thailand-Burma border area, have information about the population displacement since the period of 1993/1994. After ceasefire, the committe also established many IDPs villages in NMSP controlled areas and settled over 10000 of IDPs who has been displaced for some years in NMSP area during the conflict and with new IDPs who fled from other areas.

MRDC reported that there are about 40, 000 Mon villagers (including the IDPs in its resettled villagers) have been displaced in Mon territory. However, MRDC could not get access into all areas to help the IDPs and they have helped the IDPs who arrived into their resettled IDPs villages.

Most population displacement has happened because of serious human rights violations. In every area, when the displacement happened, not only one group of ethnic people displaced but also other different ethnic people are also displaced. According to MRDC’s information on the human rights violations and the situation of Mon IDPs in Kya-inn-seikyi Township (in Karen State), in Ye Township (in Mon State), and in Yebyu Township (in Tenasserim Division) in 2002 are as below:

Kya-inn-seikyi Township

In Three Pagoda Pass area (the border area with Thailand but it is in Kya-inn-seikyi Township) and Kya-inn-seikyi Township areas, there are KNLA and the Mon splinter group, MRA (Monland Restoration Army) have launched the military activities against the Burmese Army. MRA also launched the military activities against MNLA troops who have controlled some parts of this area.

After HRP (Hongsawatoi Restoration Party) split from NMSP, and they established a political party and planned for resuming of new military campaigns. SPDC and Burmese Army also had some concerns that they could not manage well on the ceasefire. A few number of HRP’s armed force, MRA, also made military ally with KNLA troops and took some military activities to raise their organization’s fund in the area since the early day of split.

Therefore, since early 2002, the Burmese Army intensified its offensives to uproot the bases and activities of Mon and Karen rebel soldiers. In dry season, the Burmese Army had used IB No. 34, IB No. 301, IB No. 77 (under the command of LID No. 88), LIB No. 550, LIB No. 354 and LIB No. 538. Some battalions had their bases in Kya-inn-seikyi Township and some were brought from other area, not from Mon State and Karen State.

In March and April, the Burmese Army troops tried to track down the MRA troops and suspected the Mon villagers in Three Pagoda Pass area as rebel-supporters. The Burmese soldiers also arrested some villagers in some Mon villages near Three Pagoda Pass Township. Again, in late April, Burmese Army’s LIB No. 550 also relocated a Mon village, called Kyone-kwee, which was about 15 Kilometer from Three Pagoda Pass town and arrested one Mon Buddhist monk in the village monastery. About 60 families of the villagers had to move from their village and escaped to another area. LIB No. 550 soldiers also disrobed the arrested Mon monk and imprisoned him.

At the same time, other battalions of Burmese Army launched their military activities along Zami river, along Three Pagoda PassThanbyuzayat motor road and went around into many Mon and Karen villages which are on the roads. As the Burmese Army brought many new soldiers into these areas, those soldiers constantly accused both Mon and Karen villagers as rebel soldiers or rebel soldiers. Those battalions and soldiers also did not respect any ceasefire zones and the killing of many villagers also occurred in many villages. IB No. 77 involved in various executions of the civilians as it was a new battalion brought into the area and had inhumanely treated the civilians.

On May 12, when the 100 Burmese troops from IB No. 77, led by Maj. Myint Lwin went into Thaung-bauk village, a Mon village in Kya-inn-seikyi Township in ceasefire zone, the soldiers opened fire to a group of villagers and killed two villagers. Due to the shooting, two Mon villagers, Nai Lao (31 years old) and Nai Lone (30 years old) died. A Mon girl, Mi Than Aye (17 years old), and another two Mon men, Nai Kun Oo and Nai Tun Tin seriously injured.

Similarly to IB No. 77, another battalion LIB No. 548 also involved in executions. This military battalion also executed many Karen villagers from various villages situated along Zami river. They killed one man from Koe-du-kwe village with accusation of KNLA soldiers on April 27.

Besides execution, the soldiers also tortured many villagers during they were interrogating them. Some women were also raped by Burmese soldiers, whenever they went into the villages.

On June 7, when the troops of IB No 34 went into a Karen village, Phar-pya, in Kya-inn-seikyi Township, the second commander of that army company raped a married Karen woman. The commander, Cap. Aung Myint raped a 27 old Karen woman, Naw WinYee at 10 o’clock at night time while her husband was away for fishing. When the commander committed rape, he also threatened her to kill and his soldiers also guarded the house while he was raping.

During the military offensives launched the military operations, the soldiers also arrested many villagers to use them as porters to carry ammunitions and food supplies. The looting of civilians’ foods and properties were the constant abuse whenever the Burmese Army troops arrived into any village.

For the villagers who stayed close to the army bases have been constantly suffered to be forced labour to contribute their labour in various constructions, in agricultural activities and other works for army.

As both Kya-inn-seikyi and Three Pagoda Pass Townships areas are recognized as ‘Black Area’ or ‘Free Fire Zone’ by Burmese Army and the regime SPDC, there has been no rule or justice for the community’s Mon and Karen people, the local inhabitants of the area.

In the period from May to August 2002, many families of villagers from Kya-inn-seikyi Township displaced and some number of families Mon, Karen and Lao-shan ethnic people, also arrived into New Mon State Party controlled area. Villagers from over 10 villages, which situated along Zami river have arrived to these villages. Over 2000-3000 people displaced but only about 1000 people arrived to NMSP areas.

 

Ye Township and Yebyu Township

After ceasefire, because of agreement, the MNLA troops withdrew from many parts of southern part of Ye Township and Yebyu Township areas and moved into ceasefire zones. After withdrawal of MNLA troops, the Burmese Army and SLORC/SPDC authorities had had more chance to use the villagers as forced labour such as in the construction of Ye-Tavoy railway road.

Because of dissatisfaction by the local people, one group of an armed Mon splinter group was formed in 1998 and they planned to fight against the Burmese Army. Because of this new armed rebellion occurred, the Burmese troops have intensified their military offensives in many parts of rural area in Ye and Yebyu Township.

In 2001, the Burmese Army also deployed about 10 military battalions in Ye Township under the command of MOMC (Military Operation Management Command) No. 19 and planned to suppress all the rebellious abilities in Ye Township. During the dry season, from January to March 2002, the Burmese Army also sent some 3 light infantry battalions from Arakan State and let these troops oppressed the rebellious activities.

The SPDC and Burmese Army could not absolutely control in area southern part of Ye Township and they did not trust the Mon villagers in that area and thought all of them are the supporters to the Mon splinter army concerned. They could not organize the villagers or village headmen to be their supporters and thus, have not formed militia force or paramilitary force to make against the rebel armies.

But in Yebyu Township, the Burmese Army also formed the paramilitary force and also conscripted some local villagers as permanent members of armed force or to involve in the armed force on a rotation basis.

In Yebyu Township, the Burmese Army formed the village militia force since 1999 and 2000 in villages along Ye-Tavoy motor road and in villages near Yadana gas-pipeline. The army has also used these militia forces to protect their own area, motor road, railway road and gas-pipeline.

But the number of militiamen in the area reduced down gradually even they received salary from the villagers, because they were afraid of being killed by the rebel soldiers and most of them did not interest to involve in war and fighting. Many of them resigned.

So, in February and March 2002, LIB No. 273 and No. 282 reformed the village militia force again. Before the reformation, the battalion collected the list of all men between 18 and 45 years old in the villages. Whenever there was fighting in the area, the local Mon villagers in the southern part of Ye Township were always accused as rebel-supporters and some villagers were also inhumane and cruelly by the Burmese soldiers.

As an instance,

“On March 13, LIB No. 299 troops led by Maj. Hein Min Latt were attacked by the splinter group near Kyon-ka-nyar village. After attack, they arrested 3 farmers nearby and accused them they kept the Mon soldiers. After serious torture, they burnt down all 3 plantations owned by these farmers. These farmers are: Nai Ba Zan; Nai Mun Ong; and Nai Zaw Htut. After all plantations were completed burnt, the troops left from the site.”

Sometimes, the Burmese Army also used them as porters during their military operations and let these villagers walked in advance to show the way or to use them as human-shields. Sometimes they were taken by soldiers for many days and forced them to show the bases of rebel army. When the villagers could not find or show, they were severely tortured again.

Besides the arrest of villagers to use them as porters, the Burmese Army also tried to build some roads in the southern part of Ye Township. During these road buildings which directly support them for better communication and ease for their logistic, they also forced the villagers as unpaid labourers.

Similarly to the Mon civilians in Ye Township, the civilians in Yebyu Township, the northernmost township of Tenasserim Division, have been suffered from the huge tax collection, forced labour, forced porter service and other human rights violations by Burmese Army.

In this Township, after the formation of paramilitary or militia force in Township’s every village tract, the local villagers are forced to pay for the salary of those militiamen. The battalion from LIB No. 282 ordered the villagers must pay 10, 000 Kyat every month for one militiaman. To cover the salary for all militiamen in the area, each house needs to pay 2500-3500 Kyat per month. Not only this tax, the civilians also need to pay many other types of tax.

On other hand, many villagers are still forced to be porters in the logistic of the Burmese Army in their military offensives against the rebels or when they changed their troops in the border outposts. The villagers are taken for so many days and some villagers also die in the battle-fields.

Additionally, the soldiers also forced the villagers as unpaid labourer to repair the roads or to guard railway road, motor road and gas-pipeline in Yebyu Township area. After the regime’s Kanbauk-Myaingkalay gas pipeline exploded in late April 2002 by an unknown reason, the soldiers forced more villagers to guard their pipeline.

Because of human rights violations and mistreatment against the civilians in the rural area of Ye southern part and Yebyu Townships area, the villagers have scared to stay in their village and fled to another area, where they could take safe haven. Therefore, more IDPs arrived into NMSP in April and May 2002.

Most displaced villagers walked to arrive to the safe areas under NMSP control. Soon after they arrived to NMSP area, they have to find works to get some income to feed their families. The local villagers sometimes also provided them with works and paid them or gave them foods. Sometimes, NMSP’s local authorities concerned also needed to manage for the resettlement of IDPs and sought works for them by negotiating with local villagers. According to the estimation by MRDC, there are about 20000 IDPs in Ye and Yebyu Township areas, but less than 25% of them arrived to NMSP areas.

 V. Related Food-shortage problems

There are many reasons that the IDPs could face food-shortage problems during they are displacing or in hiding situation. They access to foods would be cut when they are far from their native villages. The military offensives and the military operations launched by the Burmese Army could also prohibit their opportunity to get access for foods.

When they are in hiding place, they could contact the outside communities when they felt safe and when there is the military activity of Burmese Army, they could not contact to anyone. In many cases of displacement, the IDPs also faced serious food-shortage problems for many reasons.

Accordingly to MRDC, for Mon and Karen IDPs who arrived their set IDPs villages and even into NMSP ceasefire zones also faced food-shortage problems becasue of the following reason:

1. The new displaced villagers, who arrived into these Mon IDPs villages and NMSP areas from various parts of conflict areas in Ye Township, Yebyu Township, Kya-inn-seikyi Township and Kawkareik Townships are not so familier with new area. It is quite difficult for them to seek work and to have income. Although they could seek a little of work in dry season, however, these works could not provide them with insufficient income for their families. If compared with other areas where there are conflicts, NMSP controlled areas are likely stable and therefore, they could stay safer than other areas.

2. Normal families in NMSP areas could communicate with outside communities for many businesses under the protection of NMSP. They are not afraid of being arrested by Burmese Army as they could claim to them that they are from ceasefire zones. Thus, the villagers in NMSP controlled areas have could have movement to the nearest towns and villagers. But for IDPs, they are very afraid of being arrested by the soldiers from Burmese Army because of their past experience in their villages. They fear for arrest, torture, arrest of porters as they were in their villages. At the same time, they could not get any job in the IDPs villages or NMSP ceasefire zones. Especially, Karen IDPs, who arrived into Mon IDPs villages and NMSP ceasefire zones are too afraid of re-arrested by Burmese soldiers and do not dare to go outside of the villages.

Even though the Burmese Army is not arresting the villagers in villages in NMSP control, but they would arrest them outside of the villages when they launched the military operations. Therefore, the IDPs who are afraid of being arrested by the Burmese Army just stay in one place and not dare to move.

3. Normally, in many areas where IDPs are taking refuge, the local villagers just use ‘slash and burnt’ method of cultivatioins and they could produce the crops that are insufficient even for the villagers who remained in the area for such a long period. The villagers even in NMSP areas also tried to get food from the areas outside of NMSP control. When there are more IDPs arrived into one area, they could not have sufficient foods for all people and therefore, the IDPs could face food-shortage problem first.

4. Normally in the rainy season, the traveling from one place to another area is too difficult and the people and IDPs who stayed in the remote areas or in hiding areas could not get easy access to villages or areas where they could get foods. IDPs are very vulnerable in this situation to face food-shortage problems, becasue they are not familiar with the people in the area to get their helps and no money to buy food.

VI. Conclusion and Recommendations

1. Population displacement is a crucial ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Burma, but it gets very less international attentions. Under the Burmese Army’s ethnic cleansing policy, the rural ethnic people have been similarly suffered like the oppressed people in Kosovo and in East Timor. The ruling regime and the Burmese Army also try to close the real situation of these IDPs situation in Burma and deny the international organizations’ access for monitoring.

2. The official humanitarian assistance and the access to the UN Representatives on IDPs is necessary for Burma situation. Therefore, the international organizations should ask the representative to have attempt to get access to those IDPs communities. It is also necessary for UN and international organizations to treat these IDPs accordingly to Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement adopted in 1998 to enhance protection for them.

3. It is also necessary to work with the competing authorities in taking cares of these non-Burman ethnic IDPs. They could get access easier than because most areas are under their control or semi-control and therefore, they could help these IDPs. Thousand numbers of IDPs are facing food-shortage, terrible health care and lack of sheltering.