THE CURRENT SITUATION IN MUDRAW (PAPUN) DISTRICT

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THE CURRENT SITUATION IN MUDRAW (PAPUN) DISTRICT

Published date:
Friday, November 13, 1992

This situation update from Hpapun District describes the SLORC's air raids and indiscriminate firing of mortars and shells onto Karen villagers where no ethnic armed group are based. As a result of these and other attacks, many villagers were forced to flee. Children were reported to die of treatable diseases and over 300 Karen children are unable to attend school due to the security situation. In addition, food supplies are desperately needed to feed the displaced populations.

The current SLORC Offensive and Displaced People

And Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
Manerplaw, November 13, 1992

 

Please feel free to use the information in this report in any way which can help the Karen people. However, please note that this is not an official document of any organisation, but only information gathered through discussions with some of the displaced villagers and Karen Army commanders involved.

Tee Moo Khee Area.

The SLORC offensive against the KNLA and civilians in the Tee Moo Khee area has been going on since July, and still continues. The SLORC has used 13 Battalions, totaling approximately 6,500 infantry and artillery troops, in this attack on several remote civilian villages and a small force of Karen troops. They are using their heaviest weaponry, including 120 mm mortars, and are fully supported by air power. The Burmese Air Force has used its Swiss Pilatus PC6 and PC7 turbopropeller bombers to conduct repeated raids in the area. Many of the raids have attacked civilian villages where Karen troops are not positioned. The planes bomb, strafe, and fire 2.75-inch rockets into the villages. Casualty figures are not yet confirmed, but up to 20 or more villagers, including men, women, and children, have been killed in the raids, and many more wounded.

Most of the villagers had already been living in small clusters of houses in the forest rather than in centralised villages for up to 15 years, as centralised villages make easy targets for the Burma Army’s notorious Four Cuts program (the program involves attacking ethnic armies indirectly by systematically pillaging ethnic villages and murdering or enslaving the villagers, and has been in effect in this area continuously since the 1970’s). The villagers are desperate not to be forced out of their home areas, especially now that their rice crop is just becoming ready for harvest, but as the Karen troops recently had to pull back a short distance they had no choice but to go with them. Villagers who attempted to return to harvest rice from their own fields often found SLORC troops lying in wait to gun them down. Now many of them stay with the Karen troops around Bpa Nay Bpa Ko for security, while others are scattered in the forests of the area. Some still try to make excursions to gather some of their rice, but only by night and with Karen troops for protection.

Over 4,000 of these villagers face imminent starvation if food is not sent to them very soon. Although they are two days’ walk from the Thai border, supplies can reach them by elephant. The KNU is now trying to help them as much as possible, but its resources are desperately needed elsewhere as the SLORC reopens its attacks on all fronts.

Together with the displaced villagers are 50 to 60 munitions porters, men aged 17 to 50 and above, who have escaped the SLORC Army. Some are convicts who have been dragged from the prisons, but most are villagers who were rounded up by SLORC troops at Toungoo and Nyaunglebin railway stations. The SLORC is currently using captured women to porter munitions from Ler Do Town to Mu She, and then the men must carry the loads from Mu She to the front line in the Tee Moo Khee area.

Should the Karen troops have to withdraw any further, the situation for all of these people will become even more desperate.


Kaw Lu Der Area

The Kaw Lu Der villages lie not so far to the west of Saw Hta (Saw Hta is a northern Karen village and trading gateway on the Salween River at the Thai border, just south of the Karenni border). However, over 1,600 villagers in this area have been cut off on 3 sides by Burmese troops, and their only route to the Thai border is now a long and arduous trek through the mountains which some may not survive. They have also been driven from the area of their home villages by the SLORC’s current wave of attacks, and already face starvation. The supply line to these people still remains precariously open, and food supplies are needed immediately.


Saw Hta

On October 5, while 13 SLORC Battalions and the Air Force continued to attack Tee Moo Khee, SLORC Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw told the United Nations General Assembly of the Army’s "suspension of all offensive operations in Kayin [Karen] State and other parts of the country". As the next day dawned on October 6, about 2,000 SLORC troops in 4 Battalions swooped down from southern Karenni State and launched an all-out attack on the northern Karen village and trading post of Saw Hta, overrunning the village and driving an estimated 1,000 villagers southward back into the protection of the Karen Army or across the Thai border to become refugees. SLORC Battalions #114, 115, 117 and 102 of 55 Division mounted the attack. After 7 hours of heavy fighting, the KNLA had to withdraw because they were short of ammunition. 18 SLORC troops were already dead, including 2 officers, and 43 were wounded, 20 of them seriously.

The Karen lines now hold firm just south of Saw Hta at Ra Hta, while the refugees have scattered themselves along many Kilometers of remote Salween riverbank, where they are living in temporary bamboo shelters roofed with plastic sheets they’ve brought with them. They are currently surviving on whatever food they brought along. Some others have gone to stay with relatives in existing villages or refugee camps in the area. As with the people displaced in the Tee Moo Khee area, their annual rice crop, just becoming ready for harvest, has been lost. It is likely that soon all of the Saw Hta refugees will gather in one or two camps, allowing the standard food supply for Karen refugees in Thailand to be established. However none of the new or old refugee camps along this part of the border receive any medical aid at all, a situation that desperately needs to be rectified. Though some of the refugees in these camps are trained medics, children regularly die of treatable diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, and malaria, simply for want of basic medicines. And with SLORC troops now occupying Mudraw District High School in Saw Hta, over 300 more Karen children have now lost their education to an uncertain future.

The fate of about 100 villagers from Pa Leh village, who were already living on the Thai side of the river just north of Saw Hta, remains unknown. There are reports that they want to flee southward but cannot get past the SLORC positions along the river. The only other route takes several days over mountains in Thailand, and they fear that some of the elderly and newborns with them would not survive the trip. So for now, they remain hidden near their homes, trapped by the SLORC.

 

PEOPLE ALREADY DISPLACED BY THE SLORC’S MUDRAW OFFENSIVE
(Not including Saw Hta refugees)

 


Village Tract

Village

# of people

A) Tee Moo Khee Region

Plah Ko

Saw Mu Plaw

Tee Mu Baw Kee

Kya Deh
Plah Ko Po
Plah Ko Doh
Thay Baw 
Da Kaw Mi Lah 

Shwe Mu Der 
Wah Ko Hta
Saw Mu Plaw

The Bo Hta 
Kyaw Mu Lay Der
Paw Mu Der 
Ler Mu Plaw

400
300
140
550
250

170
450
700

      700
      200
      250
      250

 

Tee Moo Khee Total

4360

B) Kaw Lu Der Region

Kaw Lu Der Du Ta Ghay
Saw Ta (Note: not Swa Hta)
Mey Per Hta 
Ta Bo Hta
Dreh Po Hta 
Thway Der
Baw Peh
Saw Klu Hta
Po Kyaw Der

250
350
250
90
50
170
270
150
70

 

Kaw Lu Der Total

1650

C) Saw Hta Region

  Pa Leh

100

 

OVERALL TOTAL

6110

 

FOOD NEEDED: 6110 people @ 3 milk tins of uncooked rice / day
                      = 18,330 milk tins of rice per day
                      = 50 100-kg. Sacks of rice per day
                      = 1500 100-kg. sacks of rice per month.
(based on 1 biscuit tin = 64 milk tins, 1 sack = 6 biscuit tins)

These food supplies are desperately needed now if these civilians are to survive the coming season and the uncertainty of the current and upcoming SLORC offensives. These villagers join the tens of thousands of other Karen villagers already displaced by SLORC troops and currently living in the forests of the Revolutionary Area facing severe deprivation. The Tee Moo Khee region in particular faces nightly temperatures down to the freezing point in the coming months. Other than the limited supplies the KNU can provide, none of these people have yet received any more than token outside help. If a large death toll and a flood of new refugees into Thailand are to be avoided, immediate international assistance is needed.