INCOMING FIELD REPORTS
An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group
Mergui/Tavoy District (Tenasserim Division)
The following information has been reported to us from individuals in the field. Please use it to help end the suffering of people in Burma.This report was sent in by the Mergui/Tavoy Information Service from the Karen regions of Tenasserim Division:
The SLORC has given orders to all villages in Tavoy District that each village must send 2 recruits to become SLORC soldiers. Villages which cannot provide the required recruits are forced to hire itinerant workers or others to go in their place for 15,000 Kyat each. Any family which sends their son to be a SLORC soldier must thenceforth be given 30 tins of rice and 300 Kyat every year by the other villagers. These families will also henceforth be free from all slave labour and forced porter assignments by SLORC troops which apply to the other villagers.
Note: There are hundreds of villages in Tavoy District. This is an increasingly widespread practice throughout Burma; villages in several states and divisions have already reported being forced to provide 1 recruit per month per village or per village tract for the SLORC army. This is in line with the SLORC's continued program of expanding its army to half a million men. The fact that this expansion is continuing despite all the SLORC's "peace talk" propaganda provides a good measure of the SLORC's sincerity in seeking "peace" and transition to civilian government. In every ceasefire to date, the SLORC has followed the agreement by immediately launching a massive increase in troop concentrations in the ceasefire areas in order to massively outgun the opposition. SLORC then proceeds to progressively break the terms of the "ceasefire" agreement, knowing that retaliation is almost impossible, until the opposition group is divided and crushed. Even should the opposition group shoot back, the SLORC can say "They broke the ceasefire." This appears to be their strategy in Tenasserim Division. By forcing Karen villages to provide SLORC recruits, they also achieve their aim of dividing villages and turning people against each other.
Papun (Mudraw) District
This information was brought back by independent civilians visiting Papun District:
On March 3, 1994, soldiers from SLORC Infantry Battalion #35 (based in Kyauk Kyi) entered Paw Mu Der village. They found photos in Saw Gay's house showing a man in Karen uniform, so they accused Saw Gay of having a relative in the Karen Army and ordered him to explain. Afterwards they took him in front of the whole population of the village, including his wife and 2 children (aged 4 and 2), and cut off his arms and legs. They left him bleeding on the ground for 2 hours, but he was still not quite dead so they cut off his penis, then cut open his belly and ripped out his internal organs. Saw Gay's brother is in the Karen Army, but Saw Gay himself was just an innocent villager. The troops stayed in the village for 3 days, during which others have reported that they held 19 villagers hostage - 2 men, 7 women and 10 children. Naw Lay Swai, age 75, was reportedly kept tied naked to a tree. When the troops left the village, they took with them 40 pigs, 38 goats and all the villagers' chickens and ducks. Since then many of the people in the village have fled to Karen-controlled areas closer to the Thai border.
Kyauk Kyi Township, Nyaunglebin (Kler Lwe Htoo) District
This information was brought back by independent civilians visiting Nyaunglebin District:
In June 1993 SLORC troops commanded by Maj. Soe Hlaing from #73 Infantry Battalion came to Say Pa Let village, captured U Aw Htoo, age 55, and asked him where his son was. U Aw Htoo said his son had gone trading, but they didn't believe him so Maj. Soe Hlaing took U Aw Htoo and detained him for 1 month in the military barracks. When his son had still not appeared after that time, U Aw Htoo was executed.
Around Kyauk Kyi area, young women often go into town by bicycle to buy things, then bring them back in the bicycle's carrier. SLORC soldiers in the area now use what they call the "bullet trick". At the first SLORC checkpoint coming out of town, a SLORC soldier searches the bicycle carriers of young women, and in the process slips a few bullets inside. Then at the second checkpoint, a soldier "finds" the bullets, interrogates the girl on where she got them, and when she can't answer she is detained for 3 days, during which she is repeatedly raped by soldiers. She is then released with no questions asked. This has been done repeatedly by soldiers from #73 and #351 Infantry Battalions, particularly at Ye O Zin village in Kyauk Kyi township. At Kyaun Zut village in February 1994, troops from #351 Infantry Battalion used a similar trick. They keep a pot of drinking water for travellers in front of their checkpoint, and they hid some bullets at the base of it. Then when a pretty girl came past and stopped, the soldiers went out, "found" the bullets, and detained and raped her for 3 days.
In November 1993, Captain Soe Naing and some of his troops from #73 Infantry Battalion came to a small shop in Kyaun Gone village, Kyauk Kyi Township, out of uniform and dressed as highway robbers, each carrying a carbine rifle. They stole money from the shop at gunpoint. Then some other soldiers from #73 Battalion arrived in uniform and pretended to attack the "bandits", opening fire into the air above the heads of Capt. Soe Naing and the others. The villagers were frightened by the automatic rifle fire and all of them fled the village, after which the two groups of soldiers proceeded to go through the village looting everything valuable they could find.
Yeh Mu Plaw village is situated where the Sittang River plains meet the eastern hills, and features a market for trading goods between the plains and hill areas. The SLORC didn't want such trade to continue because the Karen Army is in the hills, so in the last week of December 1993 SLORC troops burned down the whole market and the village and ordered the villagers to move into the SLORC-controlled area on the plains, which the villagers did. Mat La Daw village had a very similar market, where Burman traders would come to sell rice and take back betelnut and other produce. In the latter half of January 1994 SLORC troops forced all 34 shops in this market to close and drove the shopkeepers to the plains.
During this year's harvest (Dec/93-Jan/94) the four SLORC Battalions in the area - #73, #351, #35, and #26 - ordered every farmer to give them three sacks of rice per acre (probably 100-kg. sacks). The troops said they would sell the rice elsewhere and pay the farmers back a reasonable price. Four months later, the farmers are still waiting for the money. In Mu Per Hta village at harvest time, the SLORC burned the villagers' entire crop and stole all the animals in the village.
Villagers in the area commonly refer to #351 Infantry Battalion as "the rapists", and #73 Infantry Battalion as "the robbers".