REPORTS FROM THE KAREN PROVINCES

e-mail
Published date:
Friday, September 11, 1992

This report provides an update on the human rights situation in several Karen townships, primarily ongoing forced labour, forced relocation, arbitrary taxation and demands as well as torture, killing, landmine explosion, and theft and looting by the SLORC.

An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
Manerplaw, September 11, 1992

 

The following information from several Karen provinces has been received in reports from various offices at the district level. Their reports make it very clear that the SLORC’s claim that it had suspended the offensive against the Karen people in April was utterly false. This report is by no means complete.

Note: Kyat is the official Burmese currency. At the official rate, US$1 = 6 Kyat. At the black market rate, US$1 = 100 Kyat (at the time of printing). Karen farming families generally keep a food supply but no more than 100 Kyat or so on hand. If cash is needed they must sell their belongings. Currently, they can get about 150 Kyat for a large chicken or 500 Kyat for a medium sized pig.

PA’AN PROVINCE

De Nay Cha Township

The SLORC troops make the villagers go and stay at their army camp on a rotating basis to do things for them like carrying water, carrying messages, getting firewood and other work. Every small village has to send 1 person at a time, and bigger villages must send 3–4 people at once. Usually they keep each group for 24 hours (they must spend the night at the camp) and then replacements must come from the village. Everyone in the village has to take turns doing this; if your turn comes and you can’t go you must give the troops 100 Kyat. The villages must also send all the meat for the troops, like chickens and pigs, and a lot of rice as well.

As a typical example from De Nay Cha Township, Htee Wah Klay, The Wah Pu, and Pu Wee villages in The Wah Pu village tract must constantly provide 2 messengers, 2 permanent porters, and 15 viss [24 kg.] of meat every week to the SLORC troops. The villagers hate going as slaves, but the only alternative is to hire replacements at 100 Kyat per day. Even so, when they have money they prefer to pay this rather than go to the Army camp. Thus the effective cost to these 3 villages per month is as follows:


1)
2)
3)

2 messengers @ 3000 Kyat per month each:
2 permanent porters @ 3000 Kyat per month each:
15 viss of meat per week @ 100 Kyat per viss:

6000 Kyat
6000 Kyat
6000 Kyat

This makes a total of 18,000 Kyat per month. These 3 villages together only have 64 houses, meaning that each family must provide about 280 Kyat per month to the SLORC troops, or kill their livestock and go as slaves.

Day Law Pyar, Meh Pleh Wah, and Loh Baw villages in Loh Baw village tract are bigger, together comprising 200 houses. These villages must provide 5 messengers, 8 permanent porters, and 30 viss [48 kg.] of meat per week to the SLORC troops on the same basis. This is the monthly cost to these villagers:


1)
2)
3)

5 messengers @ 3000 Kyat per month each:
8 permanent porters @ 3000 Kyat per month each:
30 viss of meat per week @ 100 Kyat per viss:

15,000 Kyat
24,000 Kyat
12,000 Kyat

This amounts to 51,000 Kyat per month, or 255 Kyat per family.

This is happening in all village tracts. All of these people are simple subsistence farmers who earn their living on a daily bread basis, and being forced to support the SLORC Army is bringing immense hardship on them.

Any village which fails to provide the food or slaves is shelled with mortars, even though there are no Karen soldiers in these villages. In the past year or so the SLORC has shelled No Ti Leh, Kaw Klaw, Ler Pu, Kaw Nyan, and Lo Saw Leh villages for this reason. Each time they fire 6 or 7 shells into the village. In these attacks one man, Pa Mi La from Ler Pu village, was wounded in the leg, and 2 cows were killed. Now the villagers are very afraid, so they always send the SLORC their food, money, and slaves.

Doo Yaw Township

Each village tract in Doo Yaw Township is forced to pay the salary of 40 SLORC militiamen. Each salary is 1,500 Kyat per month, making a total of 60,000 Kyat per month demanded from each village tract. In addition, every village must pay for the following every month:


1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

2 permanent porters @ 3000 Kyat per month:
1 emergency porter @ 3000 Kyat per month:
1 messenger @ 40 Kyat per day:
10-15 viss of meat weekly @ 100 Kyat/viss:
500 shingles of leaf roof annually (minimum):
Bamboo for building army barracks:

6,000 Kyat
3,000 Kyat
1,000 Kyat
1,000-1,500 Kyat
500 Kyat/yr
Variable

If the villagers do not have this money, they must go to do the slave labour themselves. In addition to providing all materials to build and maintain the army camp, they are also forced to go and build the barracks without pay. Overall, the SLORC troops force the villagers to do so mush work for them and give up so many of their belongings that very little time or resources are left for people to support their own families. Many people decide they cannot bear it anymore and abandon their homes to go and live hidden in the forest, or to flee to the border and become refugees.


Dta Greh Township

The first week of every month the SLORC rounds up porters from every village. This is continuing every month, even now. Every time they take 5 women from every village, for a total of almost 100 women. They want men as well, but the men know they’ll have to carry extremely heavy loads and be treated much worse than the women, so they don’t go. Each time the women must go for about 10 days to carry supplies to the SLORC frontlines at Maw Po Kay and Meh La. Every woman has to carry at least 10 viss [16 kg.] of rations and they must sleep on the ground under trees, even now in rainy season when the ground is all mud. On August 8 one woman, Ma Aung Bi, age 40, from Na Kyi village, died of Malaria after returning from being a porter.

The SLORC troops also take food whenever they go around the villages. In one incident on June 19 this year, the SLORC arrived in Dta Greh village and robbed 15,000 Kyat from Da Pu Pu. The thief was Captain Khin Maung Tint of Company #3, 338 Battalion.

In March of this year, many villages received orders from SLORC No. 22 Division that they were going to be forced to relocate. The SLORC has already specified the relocation site as the farm fields of Paw Baw Ko villagers. The SLORC has already confiscated there farms and allotted them for those relocated to build their huts. Thus far the villagers have been able to stop the relocations by paying the SLORC troops, but they are still likely to occur once their money runs out.

A) Planned relocation to Hlaing Bwe - Dta Greh car road:

No.

Villages

No. of Houses

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13

Dta Greh
Pa Nya Plee
Noh Kler
Ko Kyo
K’mah Kho
Ya Mu Peh
Wah Ta Mauk
Ler Pa Keh
Maw Ah Kaw
Ler Nweh
Kauk Wah Mee
Plah Pyu
Plah Kyaw

60
60
100
150
50
50
30
50
30
30
50
70
100

B) Planned relocation to Da Greh- Foot Hill (Pt. 928) car road:

No.

Villages

No. of Houses

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

Ler Kyer Day
Naat Kyi
Ta Reh Tar 
Ler Ger
Pah Karen
Nyar Ma Raw
Kyauk Kay Kho
Pway Taw Roh 
Ta Maw Klo

50
50
30
150
100
70
70
70
100

The total plan involves forcing 22 villages, a total of 1520 families, to relocate.


Neh Bu Township

Similarly to villages in Dta Greh Township, the following 11 villages in Neh Bu Township have received orders that they are to be forcibly relocated to the Kawkareik-Myawaddy car road, which is about 18 miles from their real homes:

Thee Wah Pu, Loh Ba, Meh Pleh Wah Kee, Pah Kloo, Kloh Thoo Kee, Thay Ka Teet, Thay Doh Kwee, Pu Wee, Thay Moh Pah, Htee Wah Klay, and Wah Klu Pu villages.


Hlaing Bwe Township

During the 1992 offensive thousands of SLORC troops came through Hlaing Bwe Township. They tortured villagers everywhere, raped hundreds of women, and massacred many villagers. A great many people have already fled the whole area because the SLORC has made life unbearable there. Da Kaw village and all the other villages close to the highway already fled quite a while ago because the SLORC always used all of them as slaves and porters. Even now in rainy season they still take a lot of men and women from many of the villages and use them to carry food and weapons from Maw Pa Kla Kee Dee for the next offensive. The villagers who are left must still provide food for the troops. The SLORC 28 Battalion camp at Shwegun forces every village to send them 5-6 kilograms of meat every 4 days. Their Battalion officer is named Lt. Win Nai. They really want money more than meat, but none of the villagers have any more money.

Most of the villagers say that this coming summer all of them will probably flee to become refugees.

DOOTHATU (THATON) PROVINCE

Throughout the province SLORC troops still come to villages, take the villagers’ livestock, rice and other food, and also take porters.

In May 1991, Captain Kyee Myint, second company commander of the 24th Regiment stationed in Thaton, ordered all houses in the Karen villages of Kalauk Inn, Mayan Gone and Naung Kadoke to be dismantled. All the villagers were forced to relocated to a place called Chaung Sauk and to settle in a former rubber plantation and a nearby palm yard. The rubber and palm trees were all cut down, and no compensation was paid to the owners for the roofing annually which was lost, even though each relocated family had to pay the SLORC troops 500 Kyat for a space just big enough to build a hut. To relocate Mayan Gone village, Captain Kyee Myint commandeered all the bullock carts from nearby villages, drove them to Mayan Gone, ordered all the villagers to get into the carts at once and conducted them to the relocation camp. They had no choice but to obey.

They were supplied no food or land, and cannot go back to maintain their farms or homes except with a special short – time pass. Anyone who returns late on such a pass faces torture or a heavy fine. Meanwhile, the SLORC has publicised these relocations claiming that "These Karen people move to the new place voluntarily because they can’t bear the troubles caused by the Karen rebels anymore".

Such relocations are still going on in the district. On July 16 1992, Na Ga Na Kee village in Pa’an Township was forced to move to Pa Ghaw village several miles away, because a mine had exploded somewhere near their home village. SLORC troops of 88 Light Infantry Division, 318 Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Min La Aung, entered Na Ga Na Kee and ordered the villagers to get out within 3 days or they would be physically forced out. The villagers were told that after that they could not return to their home village under any circumstances. All of them were too afraid to disobey, and went to Pa Ghaw taking with them whatever they could.

On August 8 SLORC troops of 96 Burma Regiment, column commander Maj. Zaw Win entered Mi Kyaw Aye village in Thaton Township, burned one house down, and ordered all villagers to move to Mi Yan Gon. The relocation was ordered because Mi Kyaw Aye village is near the forest while Mi Yan Gon is an open field near the Moulmein – Rangoon highway. The villagers now have no land on which to plant anything and no food except what they brought with them. In order to survive, the men must work as day labourers for farmers in the area, and are only paid 6 ½ Kyat per day (enough to buy plain rice for one meal for 2-3 adults).


KLER LU HTOO (NYAUNGLEBIN) PROVINCE

In April and May 1992, both before and after the SLORC’s announcements, 22 villages in this province were forced to relocate by SLORC troops. In each case the villagers had to take their rice to a SLORC camp a significant distance from the place where they were relocated. The SLORC then keeps their rice, and they must go every 3 days to get it rationed back to them, though the amount rationed out is rarely enough for 3 days. In the relocation camp, their movements are severely restricted, and they are threatened that the huts they have built will be burned down should any fighting break out in the surrounding area.

In the past, these villages had paid the troops again and again not to force them to relocate. Eventually, they had already given all their money and sold most of their valuables, so they could no longer pay. When this happened, they were forced to relocate with no more than a few days’ notice. The time allowed was not even enough to move the rice to the SLORC camp as well as their belongings to the relocation camp, so many of their household belongings and domestic animals had to be left behind to be taken or destroyed by the SLORC. Under no condition are the villagers allowed to return to their home village once they have been relocated. Any man, woman, or child seen in those areas are shot as "rebels", and any property or food is looted or destroyed by the SLORC troops as "rebel supplies".

Currently 3 villages, Koh Karen, Aw Palah Ywama and E’plah Dauk Kwait, have been able to hold off their relocation by paying the SLORC approximately 30,000 Kyat, but their future is still very uncertain. The following villages have already been relocated:



No.


Villages

# of
Houses

# of
People

Relocation
Site

SLORC Troops

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11 *
12 *
13 *
14 *
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22

Hintha Weh
Kyun Gyi
Mar Pee Doh
Mar Pee Po
Noh Nya Thee 
Kya Paw
Nyaung Dan
Pa Nar Ner 
Tha Ray Si Law
Inn Net
Nga Lauk Tet
Po Thaung Su
Ter Paw
Myet Yeh
Yay Leh
Htwa Nee Gone
Pa Reh Si
Si Paw Paw 
Noh Taw Tar
T’Maw Ma 
Nyaung Aing 
Aw P’lah Kwee

250+
90+
70+
100+
40
50
50
50
50
80
50
50
80
160
150
100
60
15
60
50
40
20

1250+
450+
350+
500+
200
250
250
250
250
400
250
250
400
800
750
500
300
75
300
250
200
100

Kaw Tha Say
"
Baw Ka Ta
"
Thay Po Klah
"
Gyoke Gone
"
"
"
Letpaat Tonetoh
"
"
"
Noh Ku
"
"
"
"
"
Waing Pyi Yay
"

57 Regt.
"
"
"
"
"
60 Regt.
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
57 Regt.
"

Total: 22 villagers, 1565+ houses, 8325+ people.
Note: 1) *- these villages have been relocated twice, first to Letpaat Tonethoh and then to Noh Ku.
         2) Number of people are bases on estimated 5 people per house average.


TAW OO (TAUNGOO) PROVINCE

In the last week of April 1992, SLORC troops of 73 Regiment ordered all the following villages in Htan Ta Bin Township to move to relocation sites. Those forced to move to Htaw Ma Aye had to move their rice to be stored in another place, Nat Ywa, which is 5 miles away from relocation site. They can go and get their rice rations by cart in summer, but in rainy season they have to go on foot and carry back their rice. The villages relocated were:



No.


Villages

# of
Houses

Relocation
Site

SLORC
Troops

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Yaw Shan 
Shan Zee Boh
Zee Byin Gone
Taw Gu
Lun Bu
Htone Bu
Thay Kee Klah
Tar Lay Loh

90+
300+
100+
50
30
20
20
20

Htaw Ma Aye
"
"
"
Pya Sa Kan
"
"
"

73 Regt.
"
"
"
"
"
"
"

Total: 8 villages, over 630 families.

At the same time, the following villages were ordered to move to the Toungoo-Mawchi car road and were ordered to go and build their houses there. They went and build their houses but they were certain that they wouldn’t be able to earn their living in the new place, so they went to the camp commander of Kler Lar army camp and paid him money to allow them to stay in their home villages. Thus far they have been successful in paying off the SLORC troops to allow them to stay, although they must keep up the payments. Kaw Thay Der village has already paid three times just to be able to stay in their village. The third payment alone was 20,000 Kyat. The number of times and amounts which other villages have paid is not yet available, although it is known that they paid.



No.


Villages

# of houses


Amount Paid


Paid to

1
2
3
4
5
6

Kaw Thay Der
Der Doh
Peh Kaw Der
Pah Heh Der
Koh Pler Der
Gah Mu Der

100+
60+
100+
30+
30
30

20,000 Kyat*
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown

Kler Lar cmdr.
"
"
"
"
"

* This was only one payment of 3 made by Kaw Thay Der village.


MUDRAW (PAPUN) PROVINCE

Mudraw Province suffered severely during this year’s offensive on Manerplaw. Thousands were displaced, their homes and belongings destroyed, their families murdered or taken as porters. As a typical example of SLORC tactics against villagers, in April while heavy fighting was still happening in the Twee Pa Wih Kyo (Sleeping Dog Mountain) area, SLORC troops were taking large numbers of porters. At one point a column of SLORC troops went to Meh Way village to get more porters to replace those they had killed or who had escaped. However, on hearing that the troops were coming all the young men and women fled to hide in the forest, leaving behind only the elderly. The SLORC troops, on seeing no one young enough to carry ammunition, arrested a very old man named U Han Kyi instead, together with 7 other elderly men and 5 women. They took these prisoners to Lay Kaw Teet SLORC camp, and sent a letter to Meh Way village demanding a 15,000 Kyat ransom. The villagers had to collect the money among themselves, and only when they paid it were the elderly prisoners released.