CONTINUING SLORC ACTIONS IN KAREN STATE

Pages

You are here

CONTINUING SLORC ACTIONS IN KAREN STATE

Published date:
Thursday, May 26, 1994

The following stories were told in interviews with villagers extending from February through May 1994. Most of them are from Pa'an Township, Thaton District in western Karen State, but they are from many different villages scattered throughout that Township area. Their village names have been omitted because most of them are still in these villages, and most of the area is still firmly controlled by SLORC. For this reason, their names have also been changed, though except where otherwise noted all names appearing in their stories are real.

CONTINUING SLORC ACTIONS IN KAREN STATE

An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group

 

The following stories were told in interviews with villagers extending from February through May 1994. Most of them are from Pa'an Township, Thaton District in western Karen State, but they are from many different villages scattered throughout that Township area. Their village names have been omitted because most of them are still in these villages, and most of the area is still firmly controlled by SLORC. For this reason, their names have also been changed, though except where otherwise noted all names appearing in their stories are real.

The road which many of the villagers describe being forced to build is part of a SLORC supply road from Thaton to Noh Da Ya Plaw (near Sleeping Dog Mountain), a total distance of about 90 kilometres. It is intended to strengthen the supply line for future offensives against Manerplaw from the Twee Pa Wih Kyo (Sleeping Dog Mountain) front, or to help flood the region with new troops in the event of a "ceasefire". Like all other roads in the area which villagers are forced to build, maintain, sweep for mines and guard, no civilian vehicles or pedestrians are allowed on this road under penalty of death; all such SLORC roads are strictly for use by the military.

The villagers often mention units of SLORC troops: a Company is a unit of about 100 soldiers, and there are usually 5 Companies in a Battalion, which has fighting strength of about 500 to 700. Ten Battalions makes a Division, but not all Battalions are grouped into Divisions. Other notes regarding terminology: Kyat is the Burmese currency, technically almost worthless thanks to SLORC but still very hard for villagers to obtain. Viss is a standard weight measurement; 1 Viss = 1.6 kg. One Plah is a Karen distance measurement, from the elbow to the fingertip. "Ringworm" and "Kaw Thoo Lei" are names used by SLORC troops to refer to Karen soldiers or the Karen National Union.

 

Please use this report in any way which may help to reduce the suffering of these people.

 

TOPIC SUMMARY:

 

SLORC's new order that "for every soldier who dies we will execute 5 villagers" (p. 8,10,12,13); SLORC troops demand compensation for destroyed trucks, guns they've lost (p.17), and bullets they've shot at villagers (p.9); beating of a Buddhist monk (p.2); homosexual rape of a child (p.9); forced logging (p.3,4); SLORC money-spinning schemes (p.4,11,13,14,18); killings (p.5,6,11,12); shootings of civilians (p.3,10,11); beatings; torture; severe torture(p.2,3,6,10,14,15,16); slavery (roads, sentries, porters, human minesweepers); forced relocation (p.8); extortion; looting; killing livestock; use of human shields (p.15); beatings and demands by SLORC militia units (p.15-19); comments by a SLORC militia deserter (p.19).

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Maung Myint Aung

SEX: M

AGE: 29

ADDRESS: Bilin Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Burmese Indian Buddhist, trader

 

I was arrested by 36 Infantry Battalion on April 21, 1994. I don't know why - I was just on my way home from trading and they arrested me. They stopped me on the outskirts of a village. After they grabbed me, they tied me up. The soldiers took me to one of the officers and said "He is a Ringworm". I said "I am not - I am from K---." But they just said "Shut up!" and took me away. They didn't even look at my movement paper from the village head. They took it from me, as well as 310 Kyat I was carrying. They went and talked with the officer again, but I don't know what they said. They took me to the village and after the evening meal they interrogated me again. I told them again that I'm not a Ringworm, just a trader. They said "Do you know anyone in this village?", so I answered "I know M-'s parents". They untied me while they called them, then they tied me up again. At about 9 or 10 p.m. they started beating me up. They made me kneel down and then lie down with my legs bent back [the position he describes is lying on his back on the ground with his knees bent back tight and his feet touching his hips. Try it.] Then they stomped on my thighs, sat on my chest and poured water up my nose. They poured 3 or 4 buckets full of water up my nose. They also punched and kicked me. I told them I can prove I'm from K---, because their column stopped and cooked right in front of my house on its way here. They just said "Just answer my questions. Don't lie."

After 2 days I was transferred to another column because the villagers had vouched for me, and the officer there was good to me. He said "We recognize you, you're not a Karen soldier". Then they released me. After I was released I saw the woman who had vouched for me. She had been tortured and still had wounds. I couldn't even recognize her, and she couldn't even talk to me. Her eyes were closed and she was lying on her bed.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Pi Say Wah

SEX: F

AGE: 60

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

I was beaten by #36 Infantry Battalion on April 22, 1994 because I vouched for Maung Myint Aung [not his real name - see above]. The soldiers asked me "Are you sure you know him? Is he a relative of yours?" I said, "He is a friend of mine. We have been to each other's houses many times." If I didn't vouch for him, they said they would kill him. Then after I vouched for him, they said "Now that you've vouched for him, you should know that we already shot him dead. Now we'll have to kill you as well." Then they punched me in the face 3 times, then once on my ear and once in the neck. My nose was bleeding. You can still see my wounds. Then they stomped on my throat. I said, "Don't do that - I'm about to die!" They said, "You vouched for a rebel. You have to die." Then they poked me with a knife.

All this happened in my house. Then they left me there, and when they left they took the steps from my house and put them over against the fence [Karen houses are build raised above the ground with a bamboo ladder to enter. They took the ladder away just to make it impossible to leave until others came - just a way of adding insult to injury].

 

============================================================

 

NAME: U Ye Wa Ra Sara

SEX: M

AGE: 29

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist monk

 

[Note: U Ye Wa Ra Sara is a fully robed monk and stays in a monastery. When the soldiers beat him they were fully aware of this.]

I have been a monk for 9 years. I was beaten by Than Htut. He is second in command of Company 4, #36 Infantry Battalion, #33 Division. On April 20, he accused me of spreading gossip that he is an alcoholic. He asked me if this was true, and I said no. Then later when he was drunk, he sent his soldiers to grab me, but I would not go to their camp so he came to me. He asked me the same question as before, then he took a carbine rifle from one of his soldiers and hit me on the mouth with the rifle butt. It was painful, and my mouth started bleeding. My lip and tongue were split. I tried to run but they followed me and shouted "You are a rebel's monk!". Than Htut was very, very drunk. He took a big knife and asked me "Do you like Kya Ni Gan's speeches?" [Kya Ni Gan is a famous monk in Burma whose discourses are distributed on tape]. I said "Yes", and then he pointed the knife at me. Just then his commander, Aung Kyaw Htoo, came and dragged him away. [Aung Kyaw Htoo is second in command of 36 Battalion.] These same soldiers always come to the monastery to take our durian [a prized fruit] without even asking permission.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Pu Tha Kler

SEX: M

AGE: 64

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The SLORC shot at me on April 13, 1994 at 2:30 p.m. It was #36 Infantry Battalion from #33 Division. The Battalion Commander is Than Zaw. They saw villagers running and so they just started shooting at us. The bullet hit me in the back of my right foot, went through and came out the bottom of my foot. We were running because we were afraid to be porters. They always take villagers as porters. Even though we already give them porter fees, whenever they need porters they come to catch people, and any time at all they catch us they take us as porters.

They also always make us give them things. One time they came to my house and took everything: my smoked fish, my hat, my torch, my folding umbrella, pots, food, clothes, even my cloth bag and my cheroots. Even if they don't beat us, we don't dare face them because they demand so many things from us. I've seen what they do, so I always run and they never capture me. After they shot me, they didn't come and capture me because they didn't know I'd been hit. Now I'm using traditional medicine. I put some oils and saffron on the wound and said some words, and now it's curing itself slowly [Note: at the time of the interview, the open wound had not yet healed].

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Saw Lah Ghay

SEX: M

AGE: 40

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

Troops from 36 Battalion arrived at our village on April 30, 1994. They stole 8 pots and one pig, just as if it were their own. They steal so many things from us - they've also ordered 1,000 shingles of leaf roofing and 20 cattle carts, and we have to send it all by May 15. Whenever they come to the village, all the girls have to hide away because the soldiers always give them trouble. T--- army camp also demanded 75 tons of logs from us. The log circumference has to be 2 feet to 4 feet, and they must be 10 feet long. They said if we don't send these on time, we will be forced to move within one week.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Maung Than

SEX: M

AGE: 24

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

I was tortured by Myint Way Oo. He is a platoon commander from company no. 4, 84 Infantry Battalion, 99 Division. The commander of his company is Maung Myint. Myint Way Oo arrested me outside of the village, while I was working on my farm. It was February 22 [1994]. First they told me that I'm a Ringworm. They asked my name and I told them, then they tied me up. Myint Way Oo started to slice the flesh on my foot with his knife. Then he hit me on my head with his gun. Then he started to burn my leg with fire, and then they all kicked me and punched me. Myint Way Oo poked my head with a knife and then hit me in the head with the haft of the knife. Then he untied me and started rolling his gun barrel up and down my shins. Then he closed my nose. He sliced my belly and burned my navel, sliced the flesh on my arm and burned it, and the same on my thigh. He hacked at my shins with a knife like you would chop up a fish. Then I lost consciousness.

They didn't give me any medicine for my wounds, they just rubbed sand and dust on them. I still have scars on my legs, thighs, belly, my shoulders and my head from the cuts and burns. This scar on my shoulder is where they put a burning cheroot on it.

They didn't release me - they just left me there after that because they thought I was dead. The next morning, the monks and villagers came and picked me up. I was still unconscious. The monks took me to the monastery, and after a few minutes there I regained consciousness.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw K'Paw Ghay

SEX: F

AGE: 47

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

We have to do 5 types of labour for them: guarding the road, porters, slave labour, standing sentry between their soldiers' positions, and couriers. Every day we have to send 44 people altogether: 26 for guarding the road, 5 porters, 6 for slave labour, 5 sentries, and 2 couriers. When guarding the road, we have to clear the bushes alongside the road [to eliminate cover and step on any mines], sweep the road [for mines], carry away all the dust, collect firewood, make fires, and guard the road. We have to sleep in groups of 2 - one has to guard while the other sleeps and keeps the fire. We never get enough sleep. If they call and we don't answer, the next morning they charge us 1 viss of chicken and 1 bottle of alcohol. They never feed us, we have to bring food from home.

For slave labour we have to start work at 6 a.m., carrying rocks and laying them so it's level. They let us stop at 12, then we have to work again from 1 o'clock until 5:30. Then we go take a bath, and by then it's almost dark. Then we have to sleep together with the sentry duty group, because the village is too far away to go back. They give us some rice and beans, but we must bring cooking utensils from home. The porters have to carry ammunition and supplies. They never get food, they have to bring it from home. We have to replace them every 5 days, so every porter has to take food for 5 days - otherwise no one will feed them. The 2 couriers have to go every morning to report any news of Karen soldiers. Then if the SLORC has any orders to send they make the couriers deliver them. They come back home in the evening, but they have to go every day. The soldiers never give money to the villagers for labour - they just make us work like cattle or buffalos. It's very hard for us.

Now they demand firewood from us. They order us to cut wood and bamboo so many times, and then they just sell it for money. They make the villagers go cut and carry it from P--- to H---, then the soldiers sell it at the market at H---, which is close to the city so people buy the firewood. Each time the soldiers order 40 bamboos and 5 tons of wood from us. We have to cut the wood 1 plah [about 2 feet] long and then tie it in bundles. Last time we had to send 306 bundles, and we dare not refuse. The people from the town buy it from the soldiers.

Nyo Soe Min from 84 Battalion ordered us to pay 50,000 Kyat because a landmine blew up their truck. They demanded that from every village, except T--- village had to pay 100,000 because they were the closest to the landmine. The SLORC also asks jaggery tax, 30 viss of jaggery from every village [jaggery is a hard brown substance boiled down from sugarcane juice]. The officers make us give them this secretly, then they say "If anyone asks you, say you didn't give this to me. If you tell anyone and I find out, I'll kill you." So we give it to them secretly, and we had to sign a paper as well saying that we won't tell anyone. Last time they came for this was March 19. Sometimes they ask for rice, but never for livestock - they just take the livestock like it was their own. They only send orders asking for a little bit of rice, but they take a lot more than that every time they come to the village. They get their rations, but they never eat them - they just sell them for money. They force us to buy their ration rice for 545 Kyat per sack. Not only that, but there are supposed to be 24 bowls in a sack, and when we got to the village and measured it there were only 19 bowls.

The Army fights them, but every time there's any fighting the SLORC comes and kills villagers. If the fighting is close to N---, then they kill villagers from N---; if it's close to P---, they kill villagers from P---, and so on.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Maw Lay

SEX: M

AGE: 36

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The troops who beat me were from 24 Infantry Battalion. The Battalion Commander is Major Kyaw Kyaw Htay [also known as Kyi Myint], and the second in command is Myint Kyeh. On March 19, we went to hire video equipment from S--- village for our pagoda festival. We met the soldiers on the way home. They said "Where are you coming back from?", so we said "From S---, we went to hire a video machine." Myint Kyeh, the Battalion 2nd in command, asked which way we had come, and I explained it to him. Then he asked "What did you see along the way?". I answered "I didn't see anything or anyone", and then Myint Kyeh started beating me. He hit my head 3 times with his pistol butt. It split my scalp in 2 places and I was bleeding a lot. He also hit the village head 3 times in the head, although he didn't bleed as much as me. Then the soldiers tied us up, but one of the soldiers knew the village head and vouched for us, so later they untied us. Then they released us the next morning. They didn't say anything to us. This happened near M--- village.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: U Thein

SEX: M

AGE: 41

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

Myint Kyeh beat me on March 19. He is second in command of 24 Infantry Battalion and he was acting for the commander. We were coming back from hiring video equipment, and we met them along the way. They accused us of carrying supplies to Karen soldiers. I told them we were just carrying video equipment to our village, but they still accused us. As soon as he saw me there, Myint Kyeh started hitting me without asking any questions. He hit my head with his pistol three times. It hurt very much, and I have one cut on my head. Then one of their soldiers came over and vouched for me as a good man so they stopped hitting me. After that, they made me carry their supplies for one day and then released me.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw Htoo Baw

SEX: F

AGE: 27

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The Burmese killed my husband. His name was Htun Bwah, and he was 25 years old. He was a Buddhist Karen farmer. We have 2 children. I only know one of the soldiers: Nyo Soe Min. He is Company #1 Commander. Another commander's name is Thet Naing Oo, from #3 Company.

They arrested my husband on February 5, 1994 at the sugar cane field and they killed him on February 17. It was soldiers from 99 Division, 84 Battalion. They saw 7 villagers in the sugarcane field so they arrested them. They killed two of them - my husband and one other. The soldiers killed them because they accused them of collaborating with Karen soldiers. But the real reason was that they saw money on them so they killed them to get the money. One of the men's names was Maung Than Chay. He tried to vouch for my husband and the others so the soldiers killed him. All of the men had papers from the village headman [the SLORC appoints a village "headman" (not the same as the real headman), usually against his will, and this man is then authorized to issue movement papers to his villagers verifying who they are] and they showed the papers to the soldiers, but the soldiers didn't even look at the papers and just tore them up. After they killed my husband they stole 30,000 Kyat from him.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw May Oo Paw

SEX: F

AGE: 40

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

My husband's name was Maung Than Chay. He was 46 years old. We have 1 daughter, and I also had one miscarriage. The man who killed my husband is Nyo Soe Min, the company commander from 84 Battalion, 99 Division. He arrested my husband at P--- on February 5th, when he was cooking jaggery. He killed him on February 17th. They arrested 7 men altogether, and killed 2 - my husband and Maung Htun Bwah from P---. Maung Htun Bwah came to our village to make jaggery. He owned the equipment, so the villagers were using it to make jaggery and paying money to him. The SLORC found Maung Htun Bwah at the jaggery factory with a notebook that listed the villagers' names, how much jaggery they each made and how much they had paid him. So the SLORC arrested him, accused him of being a Karen soldier and said the list was to collect jaggery for the Karen Army. Then my husband tried to explain that Maung Htun Bwah was not a soldier but the owner of the factory. He pleaded and vouched for Maung Htun Bwah. But the soldiers didn't listen - they said "You two are together. You are just trying to protect him." And later they killed both of them at the same time. They cut Maung Htun Bwah's throat and they stabbed my husband in the chest.

 

After we heard the news, we went and tried to find where they'd buried the bodies, but we didn't find them. How could we find them? We don't even know where they're buried. We were just told how they were killed by a SLORC militiaman from B---.

 

============================================================

 

1)

NAME: Saw Win Nay

SEX: M

AGE: 30

 

2)

NAME: Maung Tin Win

SEX: M

AGE: 18

 

3)

NAME: Kyaw Htay

SEX: M

AGE: 25

 

4)

NAME: Saw Ler Doh

SEX: M

AGE: 16

 

ADDRESS: All are from Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: All are Karen Buddhist, farmers

 

Saw Win Nay: The soldiers who arrested us were from 99 Division, 84 Battalion. The officer who arrested us is Nyo Soe Min. He is company commander. We were arrested by 2 groups of soldiers - the other company commander's name is Thet Naing Oo. They arrested 7 of us while we were cooking jaggery. They arrested all of us together, on February 5 [1994]. They released 5 of us later, on February 23, but they killed the other two. The men they killed were Maung Htun Bwah and Maung Than Chay. After they arrested us they tied us up, then beat our heads and forearms, and they made us bite on M79 grenades and then acted like they were going to make them explode [the M79 grenades he describes are normally shoulder-fired from an M79 grenade launcher about the size of a sawed-off rifle]. Then they beat me on my head with the M79 grenade launcher, and they poked us all over with knives until our clothes were full of holes. They cut through our clothes and drew just a little blood. They poked me in my back, legs, and face. For me they demanded 5 bowls of rice, 2 chickens, and 500 Kyat, then they released me.

 

Saw Ler Doh: For me they asked Thukita cheroots, alcohol, and I don't know what else because my sister had to give it to them.

 

Maung Tin Win: I had to give 1 chicken, 1 packet of jaggery, and 1 viss of pork.

 

Kyaw Htay: If I include all the money they've taken from me until now, about 2,000 Kyat. I also had to give one pig weighing about 10 viss [16 kg.].

 

Saw Win Nay: The soldiers also made every young man in our village shave his head. They didn't tell us why, they just said "There are so many fleas in your hair. If you shave you'll be different from Karen soldiers. If you don't then you're a Karen soldier." They only did this in our village.

 

Then they took us as porters and we had to carry most of their supplies, tinned milk, sardines and cooking pots. They never treated us well - most of the time we just got rice and salt to eat two times a day, and it was never enough. Sometimes they gave 1 spoonful of beans for each person. The soldiers ate well, and when we sometimes caught fish to eat they even took those from us and didn't give them back. They also made us do porter work whenever we were guarding the road for them.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Daw Nyi Nyi Soe

SEX: F

AGE: 50

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

Lately the soldiers have been making us provide road security and porters, but no other slave labour because they were already making us rebuild the pagoda in our village. It was a very old pagoda and they made us rebuild it. We had to go get sand and cement, build shelters, make cement and cover it all. We had to pay some of the cost, and they paid some. We had to send carts to get the sand about 10 miles away at the Salween River, sometimes 2 or 3, sometimes 5 or 6 carts. Now the pagoda is finished.

We have to send 2 people all the time as porters, and 8 for guarding the road. When we guard the road we have to sweep the road, carry away the dust, pick up every bit of leaf litter, etc. At night we have to sleep in groups of 2 and make a fire. While one person guards the other can sleep. If both people sleep and they find out, they charge us 1 viss of chicken and 1 bottle of alcohol. We're never paid for this work, and we have to take everything we need from home. The porters have to go for 5 days to carry ammunition and supplies and take their own food from home. Then every 5 days, others must come to replace them. The troops around us are 84 Battalion of 99 Division, especially No. 1 Company commanded by Nyo Soe Min. 51 Battalion is in charge of the road - their commander is Tay Aung, and their second commander is Aung Myint.

Last time a truck exploded we had to pay 50,000 Kyat compensation. The soldiers also come to the village, and when they come they don't even ask for anything - they just try to catch things themselves and take them. Sometimes they ask for our rice and we have to send it because we're afraid of them. If we don't they say they'll shell our village with mortars. They get rations, but they just sell them for money. None of us dares to face them, especially the young men - they always avoid them because whenever the soldiers want money or anything else they cause trouble for the villagers. Sometimes they tie people up and beat them, and sometimes they demand things and villagers who try to refuse are threatened. On February 6th there was a funeral in the village, and when the villagers were going to bury the corpse the troops came and arrested 8 men, tied them up and tortured them. The villagers had to vouch for them and pay ransom. They had to give at least 1 or 2 bottles of alcohol, 1 or 2 chickens, 1 or 2 packets of Thukita cheroots, 1 or 2 bowls of rice, and 1 or 2 packs of Duya cigarettes for each man. Now all those men have been released, but 5 or 6 days ago the soldiers arrested another man outside the village, and they haven't released him yet. The village head hasn't gone to vouch for him yet, but he'll have to go for sure, and the villagers will have to pay ransom for him. If you don't pay them anything, they'll never release anyone, I'm sure of that. We're afraid of them, because we have no guns so we have to be afraid of them. Before, the Karen Army used to shoot them all the time. Then the SLORC soldiers said "If the Ringworms shoot at us, we'll burn down your village." So if the Karen Army shoots at them now, we'll just have to die. The SLORC called all the village heads to a meeting and said "If one truck is destroyed, each village must pay 50,000 Kyat compensation. If one of my soldiers is killed, 5 of your villagers will be killed". So we pleaded with the Karen soldiers not to shoot at them near our village, so they don't anymore, because they care about the villagers.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw Ler Htoo

SEX: F

AGE: 28

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

Major Kyaw Shwe ordered us to move. He is a commander from 38 Infantry Battalion. He said we had to move because there had been fighting in our village, but I'm sure there was no fighting there, only very far away. They gave us 3 days to move out of the village and said that after that, if they see anyone in the village they'll shoot them on sight. We had to move to B--- [alongside an existing village]. We asked if we could move to a better place instead, but they refused and we had to go to the place they'd ordered. This happened on August 26 [1993]. We could only take some of our things with us. Most of our rice and other things had to be left behind. Later they allowed us to go back to get it, but only during the daytime. It was two hours walk. It was rainy season so it was very hard to travel and we couldn't go back every day. When we got back, a lot of our things had disappeared; most of the planks from our houses and all of our livestock were gone. It was terrible, and it never stopped raining, and I cried and cried. I don't want to stay in the new place, I want to go home. But we can't because the soldiers are patrolling around there all the time, and if they see anyone they grab them, punch them and beat them. They beat my 18-year-old brother S--- one time until his nose was bleeding. Another villager went back and tried to sleep one night in the old village, and the soldiers captured him, tied him up and tortured him all night. Now we face the problem of starvation because we can't work on our farms, we can't do anything. We don't have enough clothes. We don't know how to make a living in the new place, but we can't dare go back to our old place either.

No one can resist them, because everyone is afraid to die. Our lives now are just work in the morning to eat in the evening, surviving hand to mouth. Now I need to buy a new sarong but I can't. We all feel deeply humiliated and small in the new place, because we see the people from the village with new clothes while we don't even have a change of clothes. The village head there feels sorry for us, so whenever the SLORC orders forced labour he gets his villagers to go instead of us.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw Heh

SEX: F

AGE: 30

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The SLORC ordered us to move on December 21, 1993. I don't know why. Major San Lin from 84 Battalion of 99 Division forced us to move to N---, and wouldn't allow us to go anywhere else. After that he and his troops left for 3 months, then the same troops came back with a new Major whose name I don't know.

There were 15 houses in our village. Here at the new place, we don't know how to work or survive. It's very hard to provide for our families. In the daytime we can go work at our old farms, but they won't allow us to sleep there so we have to be back here before dark. Our farms are far from here, so we don't have time to do all the work to grow a crop. Our old village is also the closest place we can get firewood. My house here is just a temporary shelter, and it's already starting to fall down.

Even so, the SLORC still asks us for things all the time. They ask for pork, and if we don't have it we have to pay for it. When their truck exploded they demanded 60,000 Kyat from the big village here, so their village head asked us to help them and we had to pay 4,000. We also have to guard the road.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Saw Htoo Wah

SEX: M

AGE: 13

ADDRESS: Thaton Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

My age is 13. At Na Daw full moon [on December 28, 1993] I was guarding the road. Three of my friends, all girls, came to bring rice for their relatives who were guarding the road and they stopped where I was. They were afraid to go further because of the soldiers. At the same time the SLORC Lance Corporal arrived and asked me who these girls were that he didn't recognize. Then he looked at another boy who was there and said "He must be Kaw Thoo Lei", but I told him that the boy is just a civilian from my village. Then he pointed at me and asked one woman "Is he Kaw Thoo Lei?" She said I'm just a villager, but he didn't believe her so he pointed at me and asked one of the girls "Is this a boy or a girl?" The girl said that I am gay. [Note: he is not gay, but this was probably just an effort by the girl to make the Lance Corporal go away, hoping that he would believe that no one who is gay could be a Karen soldier.] Then the Lance Corporal stopped asking her about me. The girls were very afraid to walk further to see their relatives, and they decided to go home. As they were leaving the Lance Corporal pointed his gun at them. They started running and lost their food. Then the Lance Corporal left.

Later it was time for me to go back home to eat. It was going to get dark. The Lance Corporal stopped me on the way and asked me to go with him to catch birds in the forest. I refused because I was hungry. He said he hadn't eaten either but that he wasn't hungry, and asked me to go just for a while. Then he said I had to go with him, so I started following him. When we got in the forest he stopped and asked me "How many brothers and sisters do you have?", and I said "Just 2". He said "Are any of your brothers Karen soldiers?". I said no, and he said "Don't lie!", so I said "If you don't believe me, go and ask the village headman. He will tell you." Then the Lance Corporal told me to lie down face down. I thought he was going to shoot and kill me and I was going to die. But he started to rape me. He did it, and it hurt very much. After that, he let me go but told me not to say anything to the Major or the headman about what he had done to me. He said "If you tell anyone, I'll shoot you dead right away".

On the way back, I met soldiers who asked me who I was talking to, so I said "the Lance Corporal". Then further on I was stopped by the Major, who asked me the same question. I told him I was talking to his Lance Corporal, but he didn't believe me so I said he should ask the Lance Corporal. The Major called the Lance Corporal and the Lance Corporal said it was true, so he let me go. Then I went home to eat. After that I didn't dare go back to guard the road, so I asked one of my uncles to go in my place and I had to pay him 30 Kyat. Later I met the Lance Corporal again, and he said he won't kill me because I didn't say anything to the Major about what he did to me. The Lance Corporal is from Company #1. I don't know his name, but the Company Commander is Lieutenant Tin Hla Win. They are in #13 Infantry Battalion, #33 Division. The Major's name is Hla Win.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw Eh Ghay

SEX: F

AGE: 25

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

On February 9th 1994 soldiers from 84 Battalion came to ask compensation for their truck. We had to pay 50,000 Kyat. It's very hard for us to solve this problem, and they said "If you can't pay, we'll burn down your village and drive you out". So we collected the money and paid them on February 10th. There are only 30 houses in our village, that's why it's so hard for us to find so much money.

Another group of soldiers came into our village and all the villagers tried to run away because we were afraid of them. They shot their guns all around, and then afterwards they gathered all the villagers and demanded compensation for the bullets they used. We didn't have money to pay them compensation, so they askedfor 2 pigs weighing over 30 viss [48 kg.] each. We could only give them one pig, so they went looking around the village, shot another pig and took it. They were from 51 Infantry Battalion. Their commander is Major Tay Aung, but he didn't shoot at us - that was Company #1, whose commander is Nay Lin.

The soldiers take as much of our livestock as they can get. They take so many of our belongings, including our clothes and cooking pots. They demanded forced labour again and again - we had to work so many times at their [name omitted] army camp. They ordered us to send 6 people from our village, but we could only send five because we have to guard the road for them as well. For slave labour, we mostly had to carry rocks and build a road. They fed us but it was never enough, only rice and salt. At night we could go back and sleep in our village. When we guard the road we have to sweep the road and clear the bushes - they use us as minesweepers. They said to us, "If any landmine explodes and destroys our truck, we will put you in jail and your village will have to pay compensation". To guard the road we have to take all our own food from home. At night, they make two of us guard at each position. We have to make a fire for the whole night, and they always check on us. Their commander said "If any one of my soldiers is killed, I will kill 5 villagers".

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Saw Ko Lay

SEX: M

AGE: 53

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

They shot me on December 27 [1993] while I was at my farm. There was a small boy whose basket was broken, and he was going to the forest to get vines to fix it. As soon as he entered the forest I heard a gunshot. I thought they shot at the boy, but the bullet came and hit me. Then the boy ran away and escaped. I was hit in the back of my knee. At the same time they hit my 2 cows as well, and one of them was killed [the "shot" was probably a burst of several rounds of automatic rifle fire]. I think the soldiers were just looking around, and after that they didn't see anyone so they just left. My farm hut is beside the stream and there are one or two trees, so they couldn't see me and they left. The troops were from 84 Battalion of 99 Division.

 

============================================================

 

1)

NAME: Maung Hla

SEX: M

AGE: 20

 

2)

NAME: Saw Mu Deh

SEX: M

AGE: 20

ADDRESS: Both are from Bilin Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Both are Karen Buddhist, farmers

 

Maung Hla: The soldiers who captured us were from #119 Battalion of 33 Division - their company commanders are Win Tay from Company #1 and Min Than from Company #2. We were captured on March 22 [1994] and released on March 27.

Saw Mu Deh: Before asking any questions, they punched us. Then they asked us "Have you ever been a Karen soldier?" Then they kicked me in the lower back over 10 times and punched me in the face about 10 times. I lost half a tooth, and my nose and mouth were bleeding. Then they kept on accusing me of being a Karen soldier but I told them I wasn't. They said "You must be!", and they carried on punching me and asking questions again and again. Then they tied our hands behind us, tied us up to trees and left us there. It wasn't until the next morning that they untied us. Then they didn't release us, they made us carry things for them. We had to carry most of their supplies and some supplies that Karen soldiers had hidden in a field and they'd found. We had to carry things to their camp for 4 days, then they released us at their camp. While we were carrying, sometimes they fed us twice a day but sometimes only once, and it was never enough.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Kler Eh Mo

SEX: F

AGE: 48

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

They never even ask us for our livestock. They just take it like it was their own. Their Company No. 5 commander, Captain Thein Zar, makes us give jaggery again and again. They demanded 1,000 bundles of jaggery and paid us 18 Kyat for each, then they sold them back to the village for 24 Kyat each. They forced us to buy them.

They make us do 4 kinds of labour: guarding the road, portering, couriers, and other slave labour. They take 4 people at a time as porters, 8 for guarding the road, 8 for slave labour, and 2 for couriers, 22 altogether. Sometimes they demand people to cut wood, at least 12 people at once. Because of this, one time we could only send 4 people to guard the road, and they said "If you can't send the people we ask, we will burn down your village and loot everything you have". When we go to guard the road, during the day we have to collect firewood, carry water, and sweep the road. Then at night we have to make a fire and sleep on the road.

Whenever they enter the village they catch our livestock without permission, and if they suspect any villagers they torture them and take them to the military outpost. They beat and punched Maung Win and his face was bleeding, and they stabbed Kyaw Thaung with a knife. Then they took both of them away as porters. After a few days, the village head vouched for them and the soldiers demanded a ransom of 40 small tins of rice for the two of them. Because of this, all of the men are especially afraid to stay in the village when the SLORC is coming. They all try to run away, and when the SLORC sees them they shoot at them. They've come and shot up our village before, and all the people run. They hit one village man named Saw Ko Lay [not his real name - see his testimony above], and then accused him of being a Karen soldier. When the soldiers came he was in his field, and when he tried to run to the village they shot him. The bullet hit his thigh. This happened on December 27 [1993]. Whenever they torture villagers, they just accuse them of being Karen soldiers, but they are just doing it for absolutely no reason. They arrested and killed two other villagers but nobody saw it, the men just disappeared. One of them was Maung Htun Bwah - they killed him by mistake instead of Maung Htun Oo, who is a Karen soldier. The other was Maung Than Chay. He was just a civilian, and he vouched for Maung Htun Bwah. Then they killed Maung Htun Bwah and took money from him. They thought if they released Maung Than Chay he would cause problems for them by telling people, so they accused him of being on the Karen side and killed him too. Both of them had families.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Pi Thu Meh

SEX: F

AGE: 60

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The soldiers have come to our village so many times I can't even count it. Whenever they enter the village they oppress us and force us to work. There are 3 kinds of labour - porters, road security and slave labour. 4 people at a time from our village have to go guard the road, 2 for slave labour and one as a porter. There are only 7 families in our village, because most families have already run away to find safer places to stay.

To guard the road, we have to sweep the road, carry away all the dust, drag branches, and collect firewood. At night we have to make a fire, because the soldiers say "If you make a fire you can see people coming and crossing the road". We have to guard in pairs - while one sleeps the other has to guard. Sometimes they come to check us, and if they see us both sleeping they charge us one bottle of alcohol and 1 viss [1.6 kg.] of chicken. We have to bring our own food from home, including our cooking utensils. For slave labour, we have to carry dirt, rocks and sand, and build the road. They give us some rice and a little bit of yellow beans. Any other food we have to bring from home. We sleep in the village at night, then we have to start work early in the morning, from 6:30 until 12:00. Then we start again at 1 p.m. and work until 5:30. The porters usually have to carry ammunition and supplies. They have to go for 5 days at a time and take their own food with them.

While we were guarding the road there was a landmine that exploded. They didn't ask us for compensation because our village is so small and poor, but they asked every other village. As far as I know, some villages had to pay 100,000 Kyat, and others 50,000. When the SLORC comes to our village they take some of our livestock, coconuts, and sometimes our rice. Sometimes we don't have any husked rice to give them, and they make us pound our paddy [unhusked rice in storage] and give it to them. We can't refuse, because we're very afraid. Most people don't dare face the soldiers and run away as soon as they get close to the village. One time, my youngest son was tending the goats right in front of my house. He is so young that I don't let him go far away, but even so he has been taken as a porter before so the SLORC soldiers knew him. They grabbed him, tied him up and beat him up. He was crying. Then they took him away to the military outpost and demanded 4 big bowls of rice and 2 chickens to release him. After I gave it to them, they made him carry their supplies for 3 days and then released him. His name is M---.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Pi Mo Loh

SEX: F

AGE: 62

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The army company that asks us for money is commanded by Nyo Soe Min, from 84 Battalion. They also make us pay for their destroyed trucks, go and guard the road, sweep and clean it [for mines] and report to them everything that happens. When we go to guard the road, we have to take our own food. At night time we have to make a fire, and we can't even let the fire go out - they check us all the time. They say "If any landmines explode this will be your responsibility, so you'll have to pay us compensation - and we will charge you more than ever before." Once before, a landmine exploded and destroyed their truck. We and every other village close to the explosion had to pay 50,000 Kyat each. They gathered all the village heads and demanded compensation. When we paid that time, the SLORC soldiers said "Don't tell anybody you paid us this compensation, especially not the Karen soldiers." Now the soldiers tell us that last time a landmine exploded, two of their soldiers were killed. They say if this happens again, they will kill 5 villagers for every soldier killed.

 

Just one or two days after we paid compensation last time, the soldiers went to Po village looking for Htun Win [a villager]. They arrested him, took him to the military outpost and now he's disappeared. When the villagers went looking for him at the military outpost the soldiers said he had escaped, but we're sure that they killed him.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Daw Mi Mi Than

SEX: F

AGE: 40

ADDRESS: Bilin Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

Captain Mahn Zaw ordered us to pay compensation for their truck. He is commander of #2 company of 84 Infantry, 99 Division. He asked for 100,000 Kyat. Our village has over 90 houses. The worst part is that because the landmine exploded close to our village they charged us much more than the other villages. They accused us of collaborating with Karen soldiers. There were so many other villages too, and they all had to pay 50,000 Kyat each.

They order us to do so many things, it is unimaginable. We don't even have time to provide for our own families. There are two types of abuses: one is guarding the road all the time, and the other is having to go for slave labour. They also demand porters - that makes 3 kinds of forced labour. When they order porters we have to send 23 people. For slave labour and guarding the road, it's one person from every house.

When we guard the road, most of the time we have to sweep the road and just walk around on the road. We have to drag branches to erase our footprints. Then the next morning we have to check the whole road and if we see any footprints or anything, we have to report it right away. At night we just have to sleep on the road. If people go back to the village without permission they are fined 10 viss [16 kg.] of pork. Two of us have to guard at each place along the road. At night we can only sleep by turns - if one sleeps, the other has to guard. When the soldiers call you, if you don't answer right away they demand one bottle of alcohol and one chicken, so nobody dares to fall asleep. They never feed us - we have to take our own food.

For slave labour, we have to carry sand and rocks to build the road almost all day long. We have to get there at 6:30 a.m. and we must start work straight away. We can rest between noon and 1 p.m., then we work until 5:30 p.m. and go home. They give us rice and a little bit of yellow beans to eat. They also make us send 3 cattle carts from our village to carry the sand to build the road, and they make us pay taxes for our sugar cane fields: 1,000 Kyat for every big field, and 500 Kyat for every small one. We also have 15 jaggery factories [huts used to boil sugarcane juice down to hard brown jaggery], and they make us pay 1,000 Kyat tax for each of the larger ones and 500 Kyat for each of the smaller ones.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Saw Shwe Hla

SEX: M

AGE: xx

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The SLORC came to my village on February 6, 1994. It was Company No. 1 of 84 Battalion, under 99 Division. Their Battalion Commander is Aung Kyaw Min, and the second in command is Zaw Min Oo. The soldiers gathered all the men of the village, then asked us if any members of Kawthoolei had come to our village, and how many days ago. We told them "They came 2 or 3 days ago." The soldiers didn't like that answer so they tied up each man to a tree. Then the soldiers told us that they were going to kill 5 men from our village. They said they had an order from above to kill 5 men here, and that they have to follow their orders. Then they kicked us and beat us on the head with rifle butts. They hit me twice in my side with a gun and on my chest with a bayonet. Then the village headman came and vouched for us and they untied us. They drove all of us together to one house and then told us what they wanted before they would release us. From me they demanded 4 bottles of alcohol, 32 small tins of rice, and 3 packages of cheroots. To buy one bottle of alcohol costs 40 Kyat, 1 pack of cheroots costs 70 Kyat and 8 small tins of rice costs 35 Kyat. That was only from me - there were 8 of us altogether. They also demanded one chicken from each of us.

Then even though we gave them what they wanted they didn't release us. At first they only released me, but then they demanded 50,000 Kyat because a landmine had exploded and destroyed their truck near their camp. We could only put together 20,000 Kyat, and after we gave this to them they demanded the rest and said they would only release the other 7 men when they got it. They held the 7 men from February 6 until February 18, and used them as porters.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Saw Win Htun

SEX: M

AGE: 38

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

I was captured in the village during a funeral, on February 6, 1994. They arrested 8 of us. They tied all of us to trees except one. The SLORC soldiers asked me "Did you join with Maung Thein?" [Maung Thein is a Karen officer famous in the area] and I told them "No". Then they pointed a knife at my throat, and burned me with a burning cheroot on my leg, belly, nipples and face. I still have scars on my belly, my chest and on both of my sides. I kept denying that I ever joined Maung Thein, and then they demanded 2 chickens from me. Once my wife brought them the 2 chickens, they untied me from the tree. Then they made me go as a porter for 2 weeks. I had to carry baskets weighing 20 viss [32 kg.] to their camp. I escaped from them on February 19, 1994. The soldiers were from 84 Battalion, 99 Division. Their commander was Nyo Soe Min from Company 1.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Maung Win

SEX: M

AGE: 37

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

I was arrested with the others on February 6th. They were from 99 Division, 84 Battalion, commanded by Nyo Soe Min. They arrested us and asked us, "How many of you are Karen soldiers? Three of you are Karen soldiers, isn't that right?" When I said no, they punched me in the face and once in the chest. They asked me for 250 Kyat and 8 bottles of alcohol, and then for 2 weeks I had to carry rice for them to their Army Camp, one and a half big tins full at a time. After 2 weeks, I escaped.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Saw Wah

SEX: M

AGE: 23

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

On February 6, 1994 there was a funeral in our village. The soldiers arrested 8 of us while we were going to the funeral house. Then they asked me some questions, but I don't speak Burmese, so they punched me twice in the face. They burned me on the legs, and I still have the scars. After they untied me from the tree, they made me give them a package of cheroots and a bottle of alcohol. Then I had to carry 1,500 bullets at a time to the army camp for two weeks. Then 3 of us escaped: Saw Shwe Hla, Maung Win, and myself [not their real names - see accounts above]. The troops were from 99 Division, 84 Battalion. The Battalion Commander is Aung Kyaw Min, and second commander is Zaw Min Oo.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw Muh Muh

SEX: F

AGE: 40

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

Nyo Soe Min, the company commander from 84 Battalion, and Thet Naing Oo ordered our village to pay 50,000 Kyat on January 9th. Every village had to pay. We collected the money and paid on January 11th. We also have to pay jaggery tax. The officers told us to sell them jaggery and they would pay 1,800 Kyat for every 100 viss [160 kg.]. They ordered us to sell them 1,000 packets [1 packet = 1 viss, so this is 1,600 kg.] They said if we couldn't provide it all then we would have to pay 600 Kyat taxes for every 100 viss we didn't provide. By then we had already sold all our jaggery, so we had none to give them and we had to pay them 6,000 Kyat tax. [Note: other villages got the same order, and after buying their jaggery for 18 Kyat per viss the soldiers turned around and forced them to buy it back for 24 Kyat per viss - see the testimony of Kler Eh Mo above. So whether they can provide the jaggery or not, this is just an extortion scheme for money].

We also have to do forced labour, go as couriers and porters, and guard the road. We have to send 10 people to guard the road, 10 for forced labour, and 5 for porters. When we guard the road we have to sweep and carry away the dust and leaf litter, then in the afternoon we collect firewood and at night we have to stay in pairs near the fire. One can sleep while the other watches the road. They check, and if we both fall asleep they make us pay at least 1 bottle of alcohol and one viss of chicken. We had to take our own food from home, too. At forced labour we have to carry stones and dirt, clear the bushes and build the road. They only give us rice to eat, and we have to bring salt and fishpaste from home. The porters have to go for 5 days at a time, then we have to replace them. They have to take all their own food and carry bullets, shells, and the soldiers' food and supplies.

When the soldiers come to the village they never ask, they just steal: chickens, pigs, goats, coconuts, even eggs. They take everything. Last time they left the village some Karen soldiers shot at them from far away. They didn't see any people, just a buffalo, so they shot it. Then they came back to the village, gathered the 4 headmen and asked if any Karen soldiers are around. The headmen said no. Then the soldiers made the headmen and some other villagers sleep in the same house with them. I myself had to take my children and stay there for 2 nights with the soldiers [the soldiers were probably using the villagers as a human shield against attack]. Then they left. At that time, their officer asked us "Did my soldiers steal anything from you?", and we said no because we were very afraid of him. He even asked about jaggery tax and truck compensation, but we had to keep saying "No" because we were afraid, and then they made us sign a paper saying this.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Tha Ghay Mo

SEX: F

AGE: 50

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

It was a Militia unit that tortured me. Their leader is Pa Lu Kyaw and second leader is Pa Noe. It was Pa Mo Roe, the third leader, who hit me. They are Karen [the SLORC often conscripts villagers and townspeople to be "militia" units, gives them some training and captured weapons, then orders them to go kill Karen soldiers. They operate in small groups of 8 to 10. Many immediately surrender their weapons to the Karen Army and flee into hiding, but this particular group, whose 3 leaders are Karen, obviously relish their newfound power]. On April 3 [1994] they asked me if any Kaw Thoo Lei had entered the village. I said no. And then they just started beating me with a bamboo pole as thick as your wrist. They beat me 3 or 4 times on my ribs. I don't know, but I was told 2 of them are broken. It hurt a lot. I couldn't even breathe. After that I couldn't stand up, and I couldn't lay down either. Even now, people have to help me stand up or lay down. There is no hospital here, so I put special water and saffron on it. These men just accuse us, so we have to deny it and then they beat us. In our area usually only the militia patrols around. I hear that they're paid a salary but I don't know who pays it. Sometimes they are together with the army from 24 Infantry Battalion, whose commander is Major Kyi Myint [also known as Kyaw Kyaw Htay]. Every time 24 Battalion wants to come to the village they call the village head first, and the village head has to lead them here. Major Kyi Myint usually asks the village head "Are there any Karen soldiers around?" If the village head says no, he says "Come along with me. If Karen soldiers shoot at me, I'll have your village burned down and I'll kill you as well."

When they are making a road they make us dig, clear the scrub, build the road, and they also make us do so many other things. The village head has to divide the village into parts, and each part must send its quota of people. They assign a certain length of road to each part of the village and you have to work until it's finished. They give no food, we have to bring it from home. If the work is close by, we can eat in the village. Otherwise we have to pack our food. If part of the road goes near your village then you have to build that part. They started this road at Kler Khay, and so far it's got to Thu Kaw Bo.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Ma Chit

SEX: F

AGE: 30

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

We were ordered to do forced labour building the road on January 26. The village head divided the village into sections. Each section had to send one person from each family. Each family had to build a section of road 7 plah [about 12 feet] long by 4 plah [about 7 feet] wide. A group of militia attached to SLORC made us do this, led by Pa Noe. His commander is Pa Lu Kyaw. This militia makes us pay their salaries - we had to give each of them 1,000 Kyat and 2 big tins of rice. #24 Infantry Battalion also patrols around - their commander is Major Kyaw Kyaw Htay [also known as Kyi Myint]. When they want things they ask the headman and give him some money. They also ask for 2 porters, but instead of going we have to pay them 190 Kyat per family, regularly.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw Thaw Thi Mo

SEX: F

AGE: 50

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

I was beaten by a militia group led by Pa Noe, who is under Pa Lu Kyaw. This happened on January 16. They hit me three times with a stick as thick as my wrist, then they kicked me in the face once. They also beat me on my back with the stick. It hurt a lot, and when they kicked my face I fell down and hurt my arm. I couldn't move my arm for 2 months after that. Now it's getting better. They beat me because there was a Karen boxing tournament at our village and they said some Karen soldiers had come and joined in. I don't know if they did or not. At the time I was taking my turn as village head for 15 days, and when I told them I didn't know about it they beat me. I told the militia "You are Karen, we are Karen, we tell you the truth and you do this. It's unbearable".

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Saw Hla Kyaw

SEX: M

AGE: 40

ADDRESS: Thaton Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The soldiers order us to guard the road and do forced labour - 6 people for forced labour and one from each family to guard the road. The people guarding the road have to carry the dust away, water the road and guard it. We have to guard the whole night, 2 in each group. While one guards the other can sleep, but if we both sleep they fine us 1 viss of chicken and 1 bottle of alcohol. For forced labour, there are 2 roads we have to build. We have to carry dirt and lay the stones, and bring our own food from home.

Ah Ka Kyaw's group from 51 Battalion comes to the village and demands things very often. He himself demanded 1 goat, 1 pig, 6 chickens and countless bottles of alcohol from the village head. They never pay - the village head has to collect money from all the villagers and pay back the owners of the things. Ah Ka Kyaw himself also beat the headman - he punched him, kicked and booted him, and hit him with a rifle butt.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Maung Khin Myint

SEX: M

AGE: 40

ADDRESS: Thaton Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

I was beaten by the 2nd in command of #1 Company from #51 Infantry Battalion. His name is Ah Ka Kyaw, and he is also called Mo Myint Kyaw. He beat me on February 10, 1994. He accused me of collaborating with Kaw Thoo Lei, but I hadn't. I can't even count how many times they hit me. They kept beating me until they'd had enough. They punched me, kicked me and they shot me twice with a slingshot. It was extremely painful. Then they just released me.

They called me again on the 20th of February. I went to them and they ordered me to make a path for carrying water from the stream to their camp. It just took 1 day but I had to work very hard. Then the next day they ordered me to go again and to bring a big stick with me but I didn't go because I was afraid. I ran from them and came here. I came with my whole family because I don't dare face them any more. Now I heard that Ah Ka Kyaw is gone.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Pi Tee Ker

SEX: F

AGE: 50

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The soldiers in our area are 51 Battalion. The Battalion commander is Major Tay Aung, and the 2nd in command is Myint Aung. Myint Aung is in charge of the labour. We have to go as porters, slave labour, to guard the road and to carry things on our cattle carts. They sent a note telling us to send them 30 people, but we didn't send anyone because we couldn't. So they came to the village and beat and hurt us, then they grabbed 24 people and took them away for road labour. We couldn't pay instead of going because they wanted so many people, and everyone has had to pay so much already that we can't pay anymore. Later, all those people just had to escape by themselves. The troops sent an order to the village head to send replacements but nobody could go, so they came and tried to capture people again. They never release people until the work is finished. They also demand 5 people for guarding the road, 5 porters and 2 cattle carts. We have to go and clean, sweep and water the road, drag branches over it and step around on it. At night they gather us and we sleep together in a group: they wanted us to sleep apart in pairs, but we argued with them so they let us stay together. For slave labour we have to carry dirt and stones and load them on their truck. The truck takes it to T---, and we have to follow. Then we have to unload the truck and sleep at T---. They're still building this road. As for the porters, if the soldiers go anywhere then they have to carry all their supplies. If not, they have to carry rocks and build fences. We also have to take our carts and carry stones, wood, earth, and bamboo from M--- village to T---. It's a trip of over 10 miles.

They come to our village and demand food, and we always have to give them whatever they ask. When the Karen Army came and shot at them they lost 2 guns and some of their soldiers, so they demanded 30,000 Kyat from us to pay for the 2 guns. Now Major Kyaw Kyaw Htay from 24 Infantry is asking for porter fees. He asked 6,000 Kyat for 4 months. They used to ask for porter fees every month, but for the last 3 months we've had to work very hard for them so we thought that's why they weren't asking. But then they suddenly asked for fees for the past 4 months together. They ask for porters every month, but they won't even accept people - only money. Usually they ask for 2 porters each month at 1,500 Kyat each.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Saw Ka Paw Mu

SEX: M

AGE: 35

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The soldiers told us we're not allowed to go out at night or sleep at our farms. On January 15, I was on my way home from my farm and it was a little bit dark, so they stopped me and started beating me. It was a militia group whose leader is Pa Lu Kyaw. Their second in command is Pa Noe, and the one who beat me is named Mu Ya Gone. He kicked me 3 or 4 times and then beat me with his gun. I suffered terribly from that. Then they asked for a chicken. I said I had no chickens, so they asked for money. I gave them 100 Kyat. They asked for 150 but I only had 100 so I pleaded with them to accept it. I paid them and then they released me.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Maung Than Htun

SEX: M

AGE: 38

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

I was beaten up by Mu Yah Gone, from the militia group led by Pa Lu Kyaw. They ordered 10 people for slave labour to build the car road. At that time I was village head, but I'm not anymore. I couldn't send 10 people because I couldn't find anyone who would go. All the villagers refused to go because they said "We have to go every day already, we can't go any more", so I couldn't send anyone. So the militia called me to them and started cutting me with a knife. They cut me on the head, and the cut was as deep as the width of your finger. Mu Yah Gone did that. Then they asked me for one goat, and I couldn't refuse.

The militia gets their salary from the villagers. We have to pay them 1,000 Kyat and 2 big tins of rice every month [it appears that the militia demands this "tribute" from every village where they operate, then pools the total and divides it among themselves (only 8 or 10 per group) to form a salary]. #24 Infantry Battalion asks us for porters too. Their commander is Kyaw Kyaw Htay [also known as Kyi Myint]. They order 2 people every month, but they don't even want the people, they only take money. So we have to pay 3,800 Kyat every month instead of the 2 porters. Our village has 20 houses, so that's 190 Kyat per house every month. They're still asking that now. [Note: the burden of this amount can be put into perspective by noting that even in the Burma Army, a private soldier's monthly salary is only 450 Kyat before deductions for equipment, etc.]

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw Paw Kee

SEX: F

AGE: 25

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

I was beaten by the SLORC militia. Their commanders are Pa Lu Kyaw and Pa Noe. The one who beat me is Pa Mo Roe, one of their soldiers. They came on March 16 and said Thara Maung Myint had come to our village [Thara Maung Myint is a Karen Army officer in the area]. I said no, and then he said I'm a liar and he started to beat me. At the time I was a village head, and I had to do everything they asked me to. I was telling the truth that Thara Maung Myint hadn't been there, but they wouldn't believe me. They kept saying I was lying, that Thara Maung Myint is a relative of mine and that his mother-in-law lives next door to me. They said I must know when he comes and I shouldn't lie, and then they beat me some more. They said another villager had told them that Thara Maung Myint had come with his soldiers, but I'm sure they just made up the story. We also have to give them 2 big tins of rice every month, and we have to pay them taxes of 100 Kyat for every woodcutting saw in the village, 100 Kyat for every cattle cart, 500 Kyat for every 2-man saw [Karen villagers use long 2-man saws to saw logs into planks for their use. The log is propped up, one man stands on the log while the other stands on the ground underneath], and 500 shingles of leaf roofing.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Naw Htoo

SEX: F

AGE: 26

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The militia came to the village on April 15. They asked why our pigs weren't tied up and we said "It's dry season, they can't do any harm" [no crops are in]. But they claimed our pigs go and eat their crops, and then Mu Yah Gone shot twice at our pigs but missed. Then he shot and killed my pig. I begged him not to but they just do whatever they want. They refused to pay - they just told me to get the money from the other villagers. But I can't do that because it had nothing to do with the other villagers, and besides they have no money either. We're all facing the same problems.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Pu Klo Wah

SEX: M

AGE: 58

ADDRESS: Pa'an Township, Thaton District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist, farmer

 

The troops came from 36 Infantry Battalion, 33 Division. Their Battalion commander is Thein Zaw, and second in command is Kyaw Htoo. They arrested me on April 21, and ordered me to tell them who in the village are the families of Kaw Thoo Lei. They said they already knew who they were but that if I didn't tell them I would suffer. I said there are no families of Kaw Thoo Lei here. I said the truth.

Then they tied me up so tightly that my blood couldn't flow, and the officer rubbed the back edge of his knife back and forth across my throat. They didn't give me food or water for one whole day. They kept me tied up for 2 days after my arrest, then the third day they released me. They kept asking me where the Karen soldiers stay and where they meet and I told them I don't know anything, and then finally they released me.

 

============================================================

 

NAME: Maung Cho

SEX: M

AGE: 17

ADDRESS: Hlaing Bwe Township, Pa'an District

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist

 

[Note: Maung Cho (not his real name) was in the SLORC militia, and was interviewed shortly after deserting.]

I left the militia to come here on April 3, 1994. I brought these guns from the militia - two AK47 rifles, one normal and one with folding stock. We didn't establish our militia group, it was established by the Army. Our group was based in Pa'an township. I just went to visit my brother-in-law there, and ended up in the militia. SLORC never paid us any salary, but we got some from the villagers. We each got 1,000 Kyat and 2 big tins of rice every month. The people in my brother-in-law's village had to pay that to 10 of us. The militia leaders are Pa Noe and Pa Lu Kyaw - Pa Lu Kyaw is chief. There are 2 or 3 militia groups: Pa Lu Kyaw's, Pa Theh's, Mya Aye's and Pa Noe's groups. There are 8 or 10 in each group. I left because the SLORC made us work for them all the time, and because they accused me of being a Kaw Thoo Lei spy. So I decided it wasn't safe for me there any more, and I ran away.