SLORC VICTIMS IN NYAUNGLEBIN DISTRICT

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Published date:
Thursday, September 1, 1994

The following testimonies were given by civilian villagers in Nyaunglebin District (Karen name Kler Lwe Htoo District) arid 2 porters from west of the Pegu Yoma in Pegu Division. On July 11, troops from Kyauk Kyi, Column 1 of Infantry Battalion #60, column commander Major Tin Aye, came to Wah Boh Daun village. They sat down there and watched over the road. They stayed there for 2 days. On July13, Maung Way, Hla Khine, and Myint Oo from Ba Day Gone village were on their way home from Kwee Oo town, so they met this column near Wah Boh Daun. The troops arrested them and searched them. They found 12,000 Kyat in Maung Way's pockets so they took it. The troops said to the men, "You have contact with rebels, and you went to sell cattle and buffalos to them." They took the men away to #350 Light Infantry Battalion camp at Do Ka Hta and arrived there at 4 p.m. They put Hla Khine and Myint Oo in leg stocks [those are like mediaeval European leg stocks, where the victim sits with his legs straight out in front of him and both ankles clamped between two horizontal lengths of wood or in this case bamboo], while they tied Maung Way up with rope, beat him and interrogated him, saying "You're a black market trader. Who else in your village works with you?" Maung Way said "I don't know. I’m not a black market trader." So they beat him again until his head was cut open and he couldn't bear it any longer. He was so afraid that they would beat him again that he said "Bee Li and Soe Myint are also black market traders." Then they put Maung Way in the leg stocks.

An Independent Report by the Karen Human Rights Group

The following testimonies were given by civilian villagers in Nyaunglebin District (Karen name Kler Lwe Htoo District) arid 2 porters from west of the Pegu Yoma in Pegu Division. Their names have been changed and some details deliberately omitted to protect them, but all names and details in their stories are real. This report may freely be used in any way which may help the peoples of Burma.

 

TOPIC SUMMARY

Murder of civilians (p.2,4,5), torture (p.1,2,3,4,5,7,8), torture and unlawful imprisonment of relatives of resistance soldiers, including young children (p.3-4), forced portering and abuse of porters (p.7-8), killing elderly porters (p.7), enslavement for business purposes (p.7,8), looting (p.2,3,5), forced labour at army camps (p.2,4,5,7,8).

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NAME: Chit Hla

SEX: M

AGE: 37

DESCRIPTION: ½ Pa'O and ½ Burman, Christian, farmer

ADDRESS: Shwegyin Township, Nyaunglebin District, Pegu Division

FAMILY: Married with 1 boy and 3 girls

Chit Hla lives in a village in the area which cannot be named. He keeps detailed notes on events in the area, and his knowledge of the events he describes is mostly first hand. To protect him we have had to omit certain details which would show his personal connection with the events. He has now left his village.

On July 11, troops from Kyauk Kyi, Column 1 of Infantry Battalion #60, column commander Major Tin Aye, came to Wah Boh Daun village. They sat down there and watched over the road. They stayed there for 2 days. On July13, Maung Way, Hla Khine, and Myint Oo from Ba Day Gone village were on their way home from Kwee Oo town, so they met this column near Wah Boh Daun. The troops arrested them and searched them. They found 12,000 Kyat in Maung Way's pockets so they took it. The troops said to the men, "You have contact with rebels, and you went to sell cattle and buffalos to them." They took the men away to #350 Light Infantry Battalion camp at Do Ka Hta and arrived there at 4 p.m. They put Hla Khine and Myint Oo in leg stocks [those are like mediaeval European leg stocks, where the victim sits with his legs straight out in front of him and both ankles clamped between two horizontal lengths of wood or in this case bamboo], while they tied Maung Way up with rope, beat him and interrogated him, saying "You're a black market trader. Who else in your village works with you?" Maung Way said "I don't know. I’m not a black market trader." So they beat him again until his head was cut open and he couldn't bear it any longer. He was so afraid that they would beat him again that he said "Bee Li and Soe Myint are also black market traders." Then they put Maung Way in the leg stocks.

Later that day at 6 p.m. a section from Infantry Battalion 460 went and surrounded Bee Li's house, but Bee Li wasn't there. They only found his wife Daw Pyone Kyi, so they asked her "Where is your husband?" She answered "He went to Shwegyin to buy things", so they took Daw Pyone Kyi to the place where they were holding the 3 men, and they also took 4 of her buffalos with them. When they got there they put Daw Pyone Kyi in the leg stocks like the others. They kept them all there for 4 days and during that time they also arrested 5 more people: Soe Myint, Nyunt Htay, Pu Tu Lay, Shan Hla Myint, and Ma Mi Ohn [the first 4 are men, and Ma Mi Ohn is a woman]. On July 16 Myint Htay, Pu Tu Lay, Shan Hla Myint and Ma Mi Ohn were interrogated and then freed from the stocks but the soldiers still kept them there under house arrest. Soe Myint wasn't freed from the stocks. On July 17 Ko Bee Li arrived home from Shwegyin. As soon as he got home he found out his wife had been arrested so he went to the camp. When he got there the troops arrested Bee Li and released his wife. At 7 p.m. they took Bee Li from the leg stocks, interrogated and beat him and pushed his head underwater. It was a diabolical thing to do, because his face was already badly injured from their beatings.

On the same day, July 17, Soe Myint and Maung Way were taken to Wa Boh Daun as guides for Column 1 of #350 LIB [Light Infantry Battalion], with nearly 100 troops led by Column Commander Major Hla Myint. On July 18 there was no news of them, but on July 19 at 10 a.m. these troops murdered Soe Myint and Maung Way with a knife. A porter who was with the troops was an eyewitness and later described it to the villagers. He also said that the Column Commander had given a special order to the porters: "We have killed these 2 guides but you must never tell anybody about this."

On July 19 at 2 p.m., LIB #349 troops commanded by Captain Than Zin came from Shwegyin to take Bee Li to a camp south of Ba Day Gone. On July 20 they murdered him with a knife, east of Myin Thay Gone in the Nga Bwa Sho stream valley, only about 1 mile from Ba Day Gone. That day the same troops then went to Baw Tha Zin to wait for the enemy.

On July 21 at Bo Ka Hta camp, there was an argument between officers from LIB #350 and Infantry Battalion #60 over who would get the 4 buffalos they had stolen from Bee Li's house. I don't know the result, but the next day IB #60 Column 1 commander Major Tin Aye left to drive these 4 buffalos to Kyauk Kyi at about 9 a.m. On the way one of the buffalos ran away and went home to Ba Day Gone village. When Bo Ka Hta camp commander Captain Myo Min Than heard about this, he sent an order to Bee Li's son saying "You must come and bring this buffalo back to Bo Ka Hta camp." Bee Li's son Myo Myo was very afraid, and he was crying while he took that buffalo to them. Captain Hla Nyunt from #350 LIB then took it to the battalion at Shwegyin.

Maung Way was 36, his father was U Than Pe and his mother Daw Mweh Yee. He was a Burman Buddhist day labourer. His wife’s name is Daw Kyi Win and they have 2 children. Soe Myint was 37, father's name U Chit Dee, mother's name Daw Thein. He was a Burman Buddhist farmer with 5 boys and 1 girl. His wife’s name is Daw Ohn Myint. Bee Li was 45. His father was U Maung Maung, his mother Daw Pan. He was a Karen Buddhist, and he farmed along the riverbank. His wife is Daw Pyone Kyi, and they have 5 children. He was arrested on July 17 and murdered on July 20. Now his family's in a terrible situation. His sons are always crying and just wandering the village. His wife feels terrible because her husband is dead, but she can't even talk about it openly with the other villagers because of the Column Commander's order. She couldn't even go to retrieve his body.

This is injustice and oppression. These men lived in their village and everyone knew they were just honest people minding their own business. The SLORC said they were black marketeers, but this is wrong, I can guarantee it. These men never did that. But they're not the only men the SLORC has murdered - they're always doing things like that. If they come to the village they kill and eat our chickens, ducks, pigs and cows. They demand porters, and if they don't get porters then they demand money. We can't even count all their abuses. So now if the troops come everybody runs away from the village. Then if the SLORC meets someone who's run from the village hiding in the jungle they say "You're a rebel" and arrest, beat and kill him. They're not rebels, they've just run away from the village because they're afraid of SLORC. The troops at Bo Ka Hta camp have their own style. Every day they make each village send 8 people for "emergency sentry duty". If they need porters or guides they use these people. This has been going on since 1984, right up until now. They also demand money, call people for forced labour, and now they're forcing everyone to build fences to protect their camp.

After SLORC falls, the civilians will have peace and we can stay in our homes and do our jobs. Ba Day Gone village had 200 houses until now. After they killed the three men, the Bo Ka Hta camp commander said "This is an example for you. We're going to have to arrest some other people in your village too." So a lot of people, especially the men, have all fled the village. Nobody knows who they'll arrest next.

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NAME: Naw Ta Blu Htoo

SEX: F

AGE: 28

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist farmer

ADDRESS: Ler Doh Township, Nyaunglebin District, Pegu Division

FAMILY: Married with one son aged 8

Naw Ta Blu Htoo's husband is a Karen soldier. She fled her village and arrived in Karen-controlled territory in June 1994.

Brother, I’ll tell you how the SLORC captured me on January 16 [1994]at 8 o'clock in the evening. The SLORC came and surrounded my house. My husband wasn't at home, just me and my son. There were about 100 soldiers. Tay Aye was there, and Soe Moe Khine, Aung Thu, and Major Nyo Aye the battalion commander [of #60 Infantry Battalion]. The SLORC came into my house and asked me my name. I told them, and then they told me to come down out of the house. Then they tied me up with rope with my hands behind my back. One of them hit me on the head with a gun, while the others beat me, slapped me in the face and punched me in the back with their fists. They asked me if my husband carries a gun and I told them, "No, because he's not a soldier", but they didn't believe me. They started wrapping something around my head, and after they wrapped it around 2 or 3 times I couldn't bear it so I said "Yes, my husband carries a gun", because there was nothing else I could do. They stole everything from my house, even my clothes, spoons, pots and plates, and they stole my pregnant pig to take to their camp. After that they took me to the village head’s house. They tied me up under his house and kept me there for half an hour. Then they took me up into the house and tied me up around the neck and all over my body. They kept me like that all night long and they didn't give me anything to eat until noon the next day., when they untied me and took me to Tat Tu. We had to cross a river and as we crossed they started tying me up again. One of the soldiers put my son on his shoulders to cross the river. Then Major Nyo Aye himself from #60 infantry Battalion took a photo of us. Later we arrived at Taw Lu Ko village, then at Noh Po. While we stopped there they arrested another woman and they got very upset and angry, and then they took our photo again. Then we arrived at Tat Tu at about 4 in the afternoon.

When we arrived there they made a special place to keep us like a prison, and at about 7 p.m. they took me out and interrogated me. They said "If you ask your husband to come here do you think he'll come?", and I said No. They said "If your husband doesn't come we'll do bad things to you", and I said "You can do whatever you want, because I'm in your hands now and there's nothing I can do." They kept telling me to write a letter to my husband but I told them I couldn't write, so they told one of the other villagers there to write a letter for me and then they ordered another man to go deliver it. The next morning they put me back in the lockup, and they said "We asked your husband to come here but he wouldn't, so you'll be the one to suffer." I said "Go ahead, there's nothing I can do", and they said "We can wait. If he doesn't come here then we'll never let you out." The place they kept us was underground and very dark. They kept us there all day and night, just gave us a little food and only let us out twice during the day and once at night to go to the toilet. When they let us out into the light we couldn't walk properly and it was so bright we couldn't see after being in that dark place. They kept us there for 7 days and nights. Then they marched us to Tah Pu, Thu K'Bee, the Burmese village at Kyo Gone and on to Theh Gone, where we had to get on a truck to Nat Than Gwin, then to Ler Doh army camp. We thought they were going to keep us there but then they took us to Chit Than Gwin and finally to Tham Bo [this is #60 Infantry Battalion headquarters]. Major Nyo Aye went with us all the way. When we got to their camp at Tham Bo they made us sign a paper, then they locked us up. Along the whole way they'd arrested about 30 of us, from many different places. They ordered the Burmese soldiers there who'd lost their legs to guard us, so those men ordered us to do everything for them and we had to do it. They made us plant trees and cut all the grass, not even one blade of grass was to be left. We also had to make fences and tend their ducks and animals, find firewood for them and carry water for them. We had to cook and eat very early in the morning before they came to call us for work, and if we weren't ready we'd be in trouble. Some days we weren't well enough to work but they said "You're just lying". While we worked they just sat and watched us, like a boy tending his goats. They also made my son work cutting the weeds around the barracks and he didn't want to do it so he began crying. They sent a message to the people in my village to come all the way once a week to bring food for us, and when they came my son went back with them. But I had to stay there and work every day, all day and at night too, so I was getting very tired. The soldiers told me "We won't let you out until your husband surrenders to us". They said they'd keep me there forever.

At night I had to sleep in the prison. At midnight they came to wake me up and asked whether my husband was coming to surrender, and when I said no they started beating me on my back. My back got all swollen up until I couldn't even wear a brassiere any more. One day we heard gunfire from outside the camp so the soldiers went to check, then they brought back one man with them. He was a trader, and he had a hand grenade so they put him in together with us. They tied up his whole body and didn't give him any food. Later tears were falling from his eyes, and we felt very sorry for him. At night they wouldn't let him sleep. One of the soldiers came to ask him a lot of questions and beat him, then as soon as he went back another came, and so on. The man wanted to rest but they'd never let him. Then the next morning they took him out of the prison and asked him questions. The soldiers cut off one of his ears, then they cut out his tongue. Then they put him back in the cell with us. His blood was all pouring down. The next day they came and took him away and we never saw him again. I don't know what they did to him.

We were kept at Thambo like that for 3 months, then we were sent to the police lockup at Ler Doh. They kept us there like pigs - we ate in the cell, we had to go to the toilet in the cell. Inside there were a few pots we had to use as toilets for everyone there. Before putting us in there, the police forced each woman to give them 100Kyat. They kept us there for one day and night, then they sent us to the Village LORC camp [Village Law & Order Restoration Council, the local SLORC administration], then to the Township LORC camp. They sent us to Strategic Command headquarters to sign a paper, then back to the police station again. Then we had to sign again to be released, but the police demanded money before they'd let us sign. They demanded 12,400 Kyat from me. I had to give them the money and, then they let me go.

When I arrived back in my village there were SLORC soldiers in all the houses. They told me "You have to go see our officer". The officer asked me "Do you want to stay here or somewhere else?", so I told him I wanted to stay there. He said "I don't want you to stay here because I don't want you to meet your husband. Go stay in another village." I told him I'd go and stay wherever he ordered, but then after the soldiers had left I went back and stayed in my own village. Later my husband came back, and we moved here because I know if I stay there the soldiers will come for me again. I've been sick the whole time since I was released because of the way they beat me. I still have pain inside. The druggist has given me injections but they don't work, so I don't know what kind of medicine I need. My son is also sick and it's very hard for us. We're from the plains but here it is mountains, so we have to cut down the forest and plant on the hills. It's very hard and I don't know how I can do it with my sickness, and my husband also isn't used to it, but I'm afraid to go back to my village so there's nothing I can do.

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NAME: Naw K'Ser Paw

SEX: F

AGE: 33

DESCRIPTION: Karen Buddhist farmer

ADDRESS: Ler Doh Township, Nyaunglebin District, Pegu Division

FAMILY: Married with 6 children aged 2 to 16

Naw K'Ser Paw's husband is a Karen soldier. She fled her village and arrived in Karen-controlled territory in June 1994. She is from a different village than Naw Ta Blu Htoo, but was arrested on the same day.

I was arrested at the start of this year. The SLORC soldiers surrounded the house, called us to come out and said "If you don't come out we'll drag you out!" Then they started to punch me. They tried to punch me in the face but they missed, then they tried to punch me in my back but instead of me they hit my baby son in the head. I thought he was going to die. He wasn't even breathing. There was also a man staying at our house to protect us, and they hit him with a gun about 10 times. There were about 200 soldiers - that's a lot! Their commander was Major Myo Tint. They tied us up and took us to the headman's house in M--- village. At the same time they took all our buffalos and cattle. They kept us there 1 night, then the next day they took us to Tat Tu camp. Along the way they made me and my baby son sit under a hut for about 4 hours. They didn't give us any food. At Noh Po they took our photo twice. First they made me stand under a tamarind tree, put on my bamboo hat and hold my son, and the second time I had to sit crosslegged with one of the bags I'd brought along and my son in my lap. When we arrived at Tat Tu they asked me a lot of questions about my husband and then put us in the camp jail. The next morning they took us to a bigger jail in Tat Tu, where they kept us for 8 days.

We were locked up together with Naw Ta Blu Htoo and her son, just the four of us. They just kept us in the cell. My son had diarrhoea and they wouldn't let us go out to the toilet. I thought "This time, he's going to die. Even if he doesn't die here, he'll die in the next place for sure". But luckily he could eat a little bit, and one of the sentries gave him 2 tablets to stop the diarrhoea and it stopped. The soldiers interrogated me about my husband. They said "Ask your husband to come and surrender to us. We won't kill him, and then you can all go live in Ler Doh." I told them that my husband doesn't do anything for me and that I never even see him. I'm left alone with only my baby son just the 2 of us. They said "You're lying. We arrested you because you're a liar", and they kept telling me to call my husband to come and surrender. While we were there they called out some other people in the jail and killed them. They accused those people of being spies. We saw them digging the ground beside the jail to bury them. Then one evening they called us so we thought they were going to kill us because we were the only two left, each of us with our child. I said to Naw Ta Blu Htoo, "This time I am going to die." I couldn't carry my son with me because they'd beaten me on my back and it was too painful, so Naw Ta Blu Htoo and I went to them alone. They told us "We won't kill you, but we want the truth." Then they asked us questions.

Then Major Nyo Aye took us to Thu K'Bee. On the way they tied 2 of us together and we couldn't even walk along the paddy dikes in the ricefields. When we had to cross rivers sometimes they were up to my waist, and I also had to carry my son. When we got to Thu K'Bee they took us apart and tied us up separately, then we went on to Seik Gyi, then by truck to Nat Than Gwin and eventually to Tham Bo camp.

At Tham Bo we had to work starting at 6 a.m., clearing the bushes and cleaning around the senior officers' houses. We had to make fences around their houses, cut wood and carry water. There were many other people being held prisoner with us, not only Karen but Burmese too. There was one group of 24 people they arrested all together. Then 20 of them were released and only 4 of them were left. Everybody had to work, the whole world! Burmese, Karen, everybody. The soldiers hit me on my back and kicked me in the head. The only food we had was sent to us from our village, it wasn't SLORC's food. Sometimes we only had rice, not even any fishpaste or salt. They sent messages to our children and relatives back home to bring us food but when they came they wouldn't let us see them. If they brought salt, rice and chillies for us then often the soldiers took it all. If they brought money for us to buy medicines the soldiers just took it all and never gave it to us. We couldn't do anything about it because we were in prison. When the people from our village couldn't come, we were only fed once a day until they brought more food.

After 3 months at Tham Bo they took us to the police camp at Ler Doh for 1 night and 1 day without food. Then they took us to the court [she probably means the Township LORC office]. At the court they told us "We arrested you because of your husbands, not because of yourselves. Because your husbands are very bad men. We need to kill them, though in a way I don't want to kill them." Then I had to pay 16,000 Kyat to Ye Soe. He is the superior of Major Myo Tint, who arrested me. I also had to pay 2,400 Kyat when we were at the police station. They told us if we didn't give them the money they asked for they'd put us hack in prison, so we had to give them everything because we couldn't bear to stay there anymore. Then they released us, but even after I was back at home they still came once a week to interrogate me. They asked me questions and said "Your husband didn't surrender to us. You're a liar", and they beat me up. I told them "Since you released me I haven't seen my husband. I know nothing about him. Just ask the village headman." The headman confirmed that my husband hadn’t been around but the SLORC said if anyone saw my husband around there, they'd kill our whole family. They said they'll be watching and come back again. I got so sick I was paralyzed for 2 days. People thought I was going to die, and they gave me 14 or 15 IV drips before I got better. I don't know what it was. Just after that Major Ye Soe came and ordered me to get out of the village. I moved to my aunt's house in M--- village, but I couldn't stay there because she was afraid to get into trouble because of me. The SLORC people there called her in and told her they didn't want me there. They told me to go report to the police and the army regiment office, but I didn't want to do that after what they did to me last time. So I ran away from that place and came here.

The SLORC had done other things to me before too. One time my father asked me to go and buy 30 packets of cheroots for him. I went alone, and when I passed an army post the sergeant stopped me and said "Give me a light. I want to smoke." When I tried to give him a light he grabbed my hand and said "Last night, 15 people slept in your house. Do you know who they are?" I told him I hadn't seen anyone and he said "How can you say that? I stay in my camp and I saw the people in your house." Then he punched me. I kept telling the truth, and he slapped me in the face. Then I stopped talking and started crying. One of my sons and my nephew were with me. My nephew said "Auntie, SLORC is going to beat us until we die." Then the sergeant punched him too and his jaw swelled up. My nephew is an orphan and he is not strong. Then the sergeant hit me with his rifle butt, but then he saw his chief commander coming so he released us. This sergeant's name was Wah Ko. Another time we were just delivering a letter to Thu K'Dee village for my father, but SLORC troops arrived and asked what we were doing there. We told them we were there to buy chickens but they didn't believe us, punched us and then made us hold our ears and squat and stand up 15 times [a children's punishment, very degrading for adults].

Back there we always had to keep running from SLORC. Only 2 of my children went to school, one girl and one boy. They just started school for 2 days, then we had to move. Since we've arrived here we've been sick all the time, so we can't do anything. The mother has to care for her sick children, and the children have to care for their sick mother. We can't get any food so we have to buy it, and now we've run out of money.

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NAME: Win Maung

SEX: M

AGE: 18

DESCRIPTION: Burman Buddhist, trishaw driver

ADDRESS: Kyo Bin Gaut [Gyobingauk] town, south of Prome, Pegu Division

FAMILY: Single, father dead. He is an only child, and lives with his mother.

Win Maung was encountered walking along a path in Nyaunglebin District by a human rights worker. His hometown is over 150km. to the west as the crow flies, across the high hills of the Pegu Yoma.

The police took me to be a porter, and they transferred me to #35 Battalion based in Thayawaddy. At 35 Battalion they said, "You're going to the Pegu Yoma". But they didn't stop there. The night of May 27 they took me on a truck, and we only arrived in Kyauk Kyi [on the other side of the Pegu Yoma] early the next morning. There were 10 of us going as porters. They kept us in the school in Kyauk Kyi, then we took a boat across the Sittaung River and rode on a truck again to Camp 60. We slept one night there, then the next day I had to carry 4 heavy shells, 100 bullets and one ration bag. There were about 400 porters, and the soldiers were #35 Infantry Battalion. One of the officers was Major Soe Win - he's a column commander.

We had to carry to Mu Thay, and we stayed nearly a month there [given the dates of his arrest and escape, his time in each camp may have been shorter than he estimates - but it probably seemed that long]. The soldiers weren't fighting, they were only doing business. At Mu Thay the soldiers were opening a big shop so they were forcing all the porters to carry the goods for them to sell at their shop. They ordered us to cut bamboo, dig trenches and do other kinds of basic labour every day. We only got to eat once every 2 days. If some traders came along and they knew some of the porters from Kyauk Kyi then they gave us some food. After a month we left Mu Thay, and I had to carry a sack of rice as well as some cooked rice. Along the way there was a steep mountain called Hlan Hlan Taung, and I couldn't climb it with my sack of rice so they beat me with a bamboo stick three times on my back, then they hit me on the head twice with a gun. When we arrived at the top of that high mountain they only gave a little rice to each porter. I wasn't satisfied so I went and demanded more, and Major Win Ko from 35 Battalion punched me in the mouth and broke one of my teeth. After that we kept going and slept one night at Nay Kya Gone hill. From there we walked to Wah Ser Ko and stayed there nearly a week. We had to cut bamboo, make roofing, repair the buildings and barracks, and make huts for them. We had to carry big thick bamboo, and when I couldn't carry them they beat me with a gun and the butt of a knife. Not only me - they beat everyone who couldn't carry. Some of the old men who couldn't keep up with us were beaten with guns by the soldiers. Then they used a knife to stab them in the arms and legs and kicked them down the mountainside. I saw them do this to three old men who were over 50.

When we left there we had to carry rations to Yah Ko, and we stayed over a month there. I said to Maung Hla Kyaw. [not his real name - see testimony below] "If we stay with SLORC we'll die, so we should escape". So we escaped on July 25 at 4 a.m. We walked all day and just before nightfall we slept beside a stream. The next morning we walked along the stream. We thought if we didn't run the SLORC would catch us again and we'd die, so we ran even though we didn't have the strength to run. Then we saw 2 buffalos by the stream, so we knew there must be a village nearby and we decided to let the buffalos guide us there. We followed them and finally we found a house. The people there gave us some food and we dried our clothes, then we set out walking again and met you.

The SLORC tortured me and my body is injured all over. I'll never forget this. I stay with my mother and she's very old, so I work to get money and food to give to my mother, if she has died because I've been away then I don't want to go back home. I'll stay here and join the Revolution.

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NAME: Maung Hla Kyaw

SEX: M

AGE: 20

DESCRIPTION: Burman Buddhist, trishaw driver

ADDRESS: Nattalin town, south of Prome, Pegu Division

FAMILY: Single, parents still alive

Maung Hla Kyaw was encountered walking along a path together with Win Maung [see above] in Nyaunglebin District by a human rights worker. His hometown is also over 150 km. to the west as the crow flies, across the high hills of the Pegu Yoma.

On May 24, 1994 the police arrested me at 9 p.m. in the video theatre and sent me to Infantry Battalion #35 in Thayawaddy. They put us on a truck all night long to Kyauk Kyi. When we arrived there we had to sleep l night, then we had to carry a basket and cross the Sittaung River. After we crossed, a truck came and carried us to Camp 60 and we slept there l night. Then they sent us to Mu Thay. On the way I had to carry a big basket that felt like it weighed more than 30 viss [48 kg.]. There were about 300 porters there, because in Mu Thay the soldiers are opening a big shop so we had to carry all the goods for the shop as well as the rations and ammunition for all the soldiers. They only gave us food once a day, sometimes only once every 2 days. It wasn't enough for me.

In Mu Thay we stayed for nearly a month. We had to cut bamboo, make fences, dig trenches and make buildings. Then they sent us to Yah Ko. On the way I couldn't climb Hlan Hlan Taung mountain, so one of the Sergeants came and beat and kicked me. He also beat me on my knees with a bamboo [Maung Hla Kyaw has a scar on his back from this beating]. We arrived at the Strategic Command hill. There were a battalion of soldiers there, and they said "We're going to release you", but then the next day they sent us to Yah Ko. After that they said they were going to send us to Plah Ko, so my friend and I decided that we should escape. The soldiers slept on a platform while Win Maung [not his real name - see testimony above] and I were tied to a stake in the ground. We worked at it and managed to undo the rope, and we escaped in the dark. Then we crossed the mountains and jungle in the rain until finally we arrived here.